As a long-time fan of Banksy, since the day I actually understood the power behind his work, I was stoked to see that little old New Zealand was hosting a hugely anticipated exhibit to show almost 90 pieces of his work. This excitement was slightly dampened with the $35 ticket price but I proceeded to get hyped to see The Art of Banksy with the promise of original works from the infamous New York street artist, curated by his ex-manager, Steve Lazarides.
I eagerly planned on spending hours mulling over the works and generally being starstruck by Banksy’s pieces including the most recognizable work; Balloon Girl. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. After a short, hopeful line, we were ushered in to an overcrowded room to read the comprehensive timeline of Banksy’s life that was less personal than a Wikipedia page and was littered with grammatical errors that became a consistent characteristic of the show. We followed through the maze of a mixed up exhibition to be dumped by the exit door, which kindly told us that there is no re-entry. After a desperate fight back through crowds to look over the works a second time, we gave up.
Although I was happy to have seen some originals, including his art on a excavated factory wall, there was plenty of reprints that served only to fill the walls to complete the exhibit. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself for paying far too much for a ticket to see an artist who advocates for free art for all, which was about as ironic as exiting through the gift shop; the cherry on top for nailing the polar-opposite of Banksy’s philosophy.
If you missed it, you didn’t miss much. The exhibition that seemed to be a 30 minute joke of Banksy, and definitely did not fulfil its worth of $35. But at least now I can tick seeing an OG Banksy piece off the list.