Better Out Than In

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For the month of October, the pseudonymous graffiti-artist, political activist, film director and painter, Banksy, has assumed an artists residency on the streets of NYC. Each night he sets out to create or install a new piece of street art, while the city that never sleeps waits with uncertainty for him to post a picture of it on his blog, Better Out Than In. And so it begins, a hurried race of the masses to locate and critique Banksy’s latest piece.

And the irony of it all? Well take October 12, for example, when Banksy set up a stall in Central Park selling 100% authentic original signed canvases for $60USD each, and a total of three sold. When an opportunist set up an outwardly “Fake Banksy” stall shortly after the public learnt of Banksy’s stall, the canvases sold out in just three hours. Among other things, it is the commercialisation of his street art that Banksy despises the most. His art is deeply imbued with satirical messages about politics, religion, anti-capitalism, anti-fascism, anti-imperialism, anti-authoritarianism, anarchism and society in general.

When Banksy’s art is removed from the street and sold for millions of dollars, it is deprived of the context in which it was created and it is therefore deprived of its meaning. Banksy despises the way in which street art is privatised; allowing one person to benefit from it, both visually and financially, to the exclusion of the rest of the world. Commercialisation of his art is the very thing Banksy deplores, and the very thing that has made him famous. And therein lies the conflict in his work, but according to Banksy, it’s still Better Out Than In.

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“Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet.”
– Banksy

Book club: Essays in Love

If you want to grow more attentive to the complexities of human relationships, particularly those of a non-platonic nature, I suggest you read Alain de Botton’s novel, Essays in Love. Through two fictional characters, De Botton ingeniously describes the inevitable course that many relationships take, from first meeting each other and falling in love, to growing tired of each other and drifting apart.

 De Botton accurately depicts the transcience of love and its many illusions upon which civilisations are built; “was my sense of being in love not just the result of living in a particular cultural epoch? Was it not society, rather than authentic urge, that was motivating me to pride myself on romantic love?”

 With his philosophical and abstract gloss, De botton scrutinises over every aspect of love, concluding that “we are all more intelligent than we are capable, and awareness of the insanity of love has never saved anyone from the disease.”

 This is a clever, thought provoking book and ultimately less cynical than any description would lead you to believe. Read it at the airport or on a plane, when your curiosity about all of the strangers around you is already piqued.

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