It has occurred to me that I admire street-artist Banksy’s choice to be unidentified. I too, wish this upon myself some days. The silence, solitude, and calm it would feel to be unknown. We all wish we had that choice, don’t we? To just slip out of society and remain unknown. The fresh feeling of having no worries, no nagging bosses, no school work to attend to. To just vanish from society for a while under a cloak of invisibility. Wouldn’t that be nice?
However, the longer I think about it, the more I feel bad for Banksy. He must not envy the secretive life as much as I would like it from time to time. For instance, he is in New York right now where the police force have made it clear that he is a wanted man for graffiti and defacing property charges. That is the moment when secret identity becomes your only choice. I’m sure he would love to say, “HEY, it’s me! I am the face behind this wonderful street art,” but he can’t. If he does, he must face the consequences of living that alternative lifestyle. The longer that he remains unknown, the more and more felonies the police chalk up waiting for him to turn in his identity. The idea of a unknown identity becomes his only way to produce artwork that is meaningful to him. It is for the art, not the man behind it. I admire that message.
People often debate about art and how it has turned into this capitalist role of production and what-not. Artists arguably make art to sell it now, not simply to make it. Artists like Banksy are interesting because he still does sell some of his artwork. However, most of his pieces that make serious statements cannot be bought or sold. They’re considered graffiti, and chances are they will be removed or painted over, or eventually destroyed in some way.
So the next time you think about why you would possibly want to slip under societies radar because you’re stressed or overloaded with responsibiltiy, think of people like Banksy who don’t have a choice. In order to do the thing he loves, he must remain underground and off the map. Talk about a stressful life.