Banksy "The Immature Poet Imitates And The Essay

Length: 4 pages Subject: Art  (general) Type: Essay Paper: #88374276 Related Topics: Ts Eliot, Art Of Protest, Plagiarism, Art Therapy
Excerpt from Essay :


"The immature poet imitates and the mature poet plagiarizes," said T.S. Eliot. If imitation is indeed the finest form of flattery, then does it follow that plagiarism is a worthwhile pursuit? Indeed it can be. Street art, including visual art and music, is both plagiarizer and plagiarized. To imitate without paying full homage to the original creator is to fail in the ultimate pursuit of aesthetic brilliance. The art of Banksy integrates itself fully with popular culture and community. By stealing space and time, Banksy and street artists like him raise poignant political questions about the ownership of public space and the social class hierarchies that determine access to and enjoyment of the public domain. Likewise, Banksy participates in the time-honored tradition of sampling. By mixing and matching, cutting and pasting, Banksy is following in a long and venerable line of artistic genius that revels in the creative potential of judicious stealing. Shakespeare stole from the Bible, transforming the Biblical literature into performance art. Picasso and Braque took liberally from still life tradition and contemporary news cuttings to produce cubist collage. The sonic masters of the 20th and 21st century build their musical canon on sampling techniques. What matters is not whether something was stolen, but how it was rearranged, repurposed, and reproduced.

True stealing is something completely different. In Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy and Guetta explore the difference between artistic stealing for creative flourishing vs. misappropriation for commercial exploitation. The latter is a form of stealing far more insidious than the former, according to both Guetta and Banksy. The title of their documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, refers explicitly to the commercialization of all art and not just the commercialization of street art. All commercially viable art galleries and museums bank on the visitor becoming a consumer, making purchases of trinkets that are often factory made and bear no spiritual affinity to the original art they serve to imitate. Herein lies the difference between imitation and theft that T.S. Eliot refers to in his statement. Imitation mocks the function of art and does a disservice to both art history and the community. Theft, when undertaken in the ways achieved by Banksy and other artists, uphold the fundamental tenets of the creative enterprise.

Placing at within a historical, political, and social context can help liberate it from commercial valuation. There is nothing inherently wrong with the commercialization of art; after all, supporting artists financially helps stimulate artistic productivity and may even increase net quality overall as artists have access to better materials, training, and time. As Morris puts it, "art costs time, trouble, and thought," (p.11). Commercialization of art led to some of


Placing a value on art is a symbolic gesture, implying that art matters as much as food, oil, salt, and any other commodity. However, not all products with value need to be privately owned. Water is valuable but is generally not privately owned. Likewise, art transcends ownership. This is especially true for public and street art, as well as art labeled as marginalized. Hyde describes the "gift community," in which a gift is collectively owned. Art serves precisely this function, which is why many museums do not charge admission, and why street art reclaims public space so that all can enjoy its presence. Art has value in its existence; the commercialization of marginalized art can be construed as a net positive for society if commercialization (a) revisions street art as "legitimate," as what has occurred with Banksy; (b) increases the reach and accessibly of the art form so that those beyond the borders with that subculture, culture, or community can connect to the work.

2. Street art is moving from the margins to the center, from the rear to the forefront of culture. Reasons for this transformation include changing perceptions of urban life, the shifting expectations of public space, and of course, different functions of art. Art forms formerly, and in some situations still, considered marginal such as murals, pavement art, graffiti, and public interventions have gained mainstream acceptance. The aesthetic of street art has permeated popular culture, as can be seen in Revolt's transformation from punk street kid to designer for commercial logos. Going mainstream has not totally diluted street art, either. There is still enough edginess in street art, both in its form and function, for it to remain a powerful form of creative self- and community-expression.

One of the foremost functions of street art is protest. When taggers use public spaces like walls or train cars, they are symbolically reclaiming space that has been claimed by the dominant culture. Reclaiming the space is a form of protest against social inequality, class stratification, wealth disparity, and racial inequities. Marginal art as protest also reclaims art itself. Art is taken from the hands of the elite and placed into the hands of the people. The artists do not need, seek, or even want legitimacy; they create their own rules and laws. Street art protests against the elite mandates on what constitutes fine vs. vulgar art. As street arts move into the mainstream, the art forms may remain viable forms of protest. In fact, the shift of marginalized art to the center broadens the audience for public protest, potentially creating meaningful social change.

Second, street art empowers marginalized individuals and communities. Street art culture forms in opposition to…

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