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On Banksy and Street Art

I've spoken a bit before on this blog about my philosophy considering art in terms of how a Christian should consume it, but I don't know that I've spoken about what specific kinds of art I like.

I like art that challenges, that provokes, that pokes a little humor at things we take seriously, and that presents a perspective different from one's own. Modern art is some of my favorite stuff - Andy Warhol is fascinating, Gustav Klimt is great, and Annie Lebovitz is a great photographer. One of my favorite days was when Chase and I were in New York before leaving for India, and we went to the Museum of Modern Art. It was fantastic seeing what products older artists felt were important to their time - Warhol expressed his distaste for commercials by creating pop art. Annie Lebovitz sought to portray the world as she saw it through her camera lens. Klimt used color and romantic images to redefine humanity.

Each new piece of art gives us a different way of looking at life, and a lot of the time, the vision put forth by the artists is frequently one of hope, of looking beyond the pale into that green country under a swift sunrise that our world could become (that's a Lord of the Rings reference, for those of you who didn't catch it).

In this vein, I've recently become a fan of what you might call street art or anarchic art. It's art that is produced in unconventional venue and by unconventional means. Rather than oil paints, paintbrushes and a canvas, the artist uses a blank wall and spray paint cans. British artist, Banksy, is remarkable in this manner.

The above is Banksy's "One Nation" work. I'm not sure on the history, but the term CCTV is British, and refers to Closed Circuit Television Cameras - security cameras. They are all over the place in England - one of my favorite movies has a line that Britain is "the most watched nation on Earth." Banksy's work is a comment on that fact, pulling in the idea of Orwell's Big Brother, and of course, "One Nation Under ___" is a comment most are familiar with because of the repeated phrase from the American Pledge of Allegiance. It's an interesting commentary on the tension between security and privacy in both England and America.

In this vein, tonight I discovered what is supposed to be a humor site called Hacked IRL (In Real Life), which catalogs graffiti done in various spots. I was surprised that many of the posts actually contained what could be considered art, if not on the same level as Banksy, at least clearly influenced by him.

This art exhibits a different way of looking at the world, a way to make a statement and a way to give me some hope that there are some creative people still left in the world.

Basically, I'm bringing this up because I'd like to challenge you to look at the world in different ways this week. What new ways can you find hope? What new ways can you challenge people? Do you choose to speak in a way that brings people into conversation?

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