Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place.
Saving Banksy is a brilliant art documentary illustrating the eternal struggle between the aesthetic of creativity and the commercialism of greed and profiteering. This unique movie illustrates the freedom of the graffiti and street artists as they dodge rules and authority to paint their art upon the plain or dilapidated walls of community buildings. Some artists consider the location of the painting an integral part of their message. These artists risk life and limb in their effort to beautify cities, leave messages, and expand creativity. For decades, their work was dismissed as simply vandalism, but now this global art movement has become quite popular, with the art pieces and their artists becoming famous and their works valuable. Although intentionally exhibited openly for public display, this art has become the target of an international multi-million dollar art grab being confiscated from public spaces without the artists' permission and sold in high-end galleries, auction houses, and fairs for millions of dollars without any compensation to the artist or even acquiring the artists' permission. Here is the problem: the artists are not paid for their street works. If they acknowledge the work as their own, they are then subject to arrest for vandalism. Most of these artists have been arrested many times, some beaten and much more.
The illusive and controversial international artist Banksy is one of the most famous of these street artists. He has remained anonymous and paints undetected on walls of his choosing (some with permission). In April 2010, he visited San Francisco and painted several large graphics in Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, the Mission and Soma Districts and North Beach. His works present philosophical messages and social comments and are created by large stenciled paintings on buildings. His subjects can be his monkeys with warnings that eventually they will take over, or his iconic rat that he explains: "If you are dirt, insignificant, and unloved, then rats are the ultimate role model." – Banksy.
Saving Banksy is the journey of art lover Brian Greif's effort to save one of Banksy's paintings in the Haight-Ashbury sector. After Banksy came to San Francisco, he painted several large pieces on buildings. With the city's graffiti vandalism violation, notices were sent to the respective shop owners to either have the paintings removed themselves or the city would do it, imposing a monetary fine. Banksy had painted his iconic six foot rat above a clothing store that was allegedly selling t-shirts and hats with street art on them. The store was not licensed, so the artists were not being compensated. Banksy's message: "This is where I draw the line." Greif negotiated with the shop owner and was given permission to remove the painting – for a price! However, before he began this effort, the painting had become tagged by other artists and was in danger of destruction, so he decided - for expediency – to remove only the rat that was painted on the 100 year-old redwood siding.
The documentary follows Greif's struggles as he tries to give the piece to MOMA, and as art dealer Stephan Keszler exhibits it in Miami without the artist's permission. Banksy, of course, condemns the showing and vandalism is threatened of the four Banksy showcased works. Keszler has secured the art and declared that the Banksy's will not be sold at this exhibit. Keszler insists that he is giving Banksy free promotion and he should be thankful, but Banksy's response is "There's no such thing as good publicity." Keszler's ultimate desire is to own the Rat and he offers Greif $700,000; but Brian is determined to find a home for this piece to be admired by the public free of charge just as the artist intended.
Saving Banksy, a Colin M. Day film and Regime Seventy-Two, acknowledges the following contributing artists: Videographers Colin M. Day and Bryan 'Birdman' Mier. Features include Bonus Footage and Behind-the-Scenes Interviews with top international artists: Anthony Lister, Risk, Doze Green, Niels 'Shoe' Meulman, Blek le Rat, Glen E. Friedman, Revok and Hera and many others. Street Artist Ben Eine (typography) gives an in-depth interview on how he met Banksy and their work together in Palestine and other parts of the world. You'll get to see some some of Banksy's most famous works (Peace and Love, Little Girl with Soldier, Kissing Copper, Bird in Tree, Slave Labor, The Indian, Painter Boy, Wet Dog and others) -- and especially some of Banksy's notable quotes. Eine also gives comments on other notable street artists and their styles. The only thing I would add to this video is subtitles because some of the accents are strong, and I personally didn't want to miss even a word. I think Saving Banksy is an amazing work and consider it an excellent addition anyone's your video library and to the art world.
Brian Greif, in conclusion, requests the audience to make comments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or their website SavingBanksy.com. It took their small crew of five people over five and a half years to complete this presentation. I think it is excellent and an amazing insight into the world of street art. So what do you think? Should the penalty of vandalism outweigh the immorality of stealing art?
People who run our cities don't understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit.