Banksy Has Opened an Online Art and Homewares Store
Customers can apply to purchase one authentic Banksy item each — after answering the question "does art matter?".
When Banksy opened a hotel back in 2017, the famously elusive British artist did so with a purpose, satirising the industry while drawing attention to the political situation on the West Bank border between Palestine and Israel. Before that, when Banksy unveiled depressing theme park Dismaland in 2015, the artist also made a statement — as you'd expect in a place that featured dodgem cars run by the Grim Reaper, and a model boat pond filled with dead bodies and overcrowded asylum-seeker vessels.
This time around, the well-known graffiti figure has launched an online art and homewares store, where customers can buy legitimate Banksy items straight from the source. It wouldn't be a Banksy venture without not only pressing a whole heap of topical points, but adding a few twists, of course. And yes, Gross Domestic Product delivers in both areas.
Firstly, while there are currently 22 different items on the store's virtual shelves, you can't just click on everything you want, add them to your cart, type in your card details and wait for a delivery. As the site's opening statement explains, there's a registration system and a limit. Each customer (and each household) can only select one item in total — and before your purchase will even be considered, you'll need to answer a question: "
Why does art matter?"
Fans have until 11.59pm UK time on Monday, October 28 (9.59am AEDT / 8.59 AEST on Tuesday, October 28) to make their selection and come up with their response. Then, entrants will be selected at random and offered the opportunity to buy their chosen object. Your answer can't be more than 50 words, and it "must not be discriminatory or hateful" according to the terms and conditions. And, there'll be a judge — someone who is "impartial and independent, and a professional stand up comedian".
Yes, you're basically entering a competition to win the chance to buy Banksy pieces, which are "produced by a handful of people using recycled material wherever possible in a workplace culture of daytime drinking," the site explains. If you're still keen, each item has a fixed-price rate that Banksy deems to be well below market value — and wealthy art collectors are strongly encouraged not to apply.
Everything comes with a certificate of authenticity and, as for what you can purchase, items range from the stab- and bullet-proof vest that Stormzy wore at Glastonbury, a Girl with Balloon t-shirt that comes pre-shredded, an ordinary wall clock from an office supplies store featuring a Banksy rat, and a home entertainment lighting system made from an old police riot helmet and around 650 small mirrors. With prices ranging from £10–750, perhaps you'd prefer a painted mug, a clutch bag made out of a brick, a TV with a painted Banksy piece over the screen (which "does substantially impair viewing quality", the sale description notes), soft toys caught in real beach debris and thenwall-mounted, a goldfish or a tombstone.
As well as discouraging rich art folks from snapping up these goods — and noting that Gross Domestic Product reserves the right to cancel purchases if items are put up for re-sale on other sites — the store also links through to a venture called BBay. It's not up and running yet, but it describes itself as "the approved use Banksy dealership" and "your first choice destination to trade in secondhand art by a third-rate artist", so it might just be a new go-to to buy authentic Banksy pieces. Or, given how much the artist loves to rally against the unhealthy intersection of commerce and art (see last year's remote shredding prank, for example), the store and the site could just be Banksy's latest stunt. GDP does come with a disclaimer, after all: "You are advised that GDP may prove to be a disappointing retail experience — especially if you're successful in making a purchase."
Image: The Art of Banksy, Olga Rozenbajgier.
Published on October 20, 2019 by Sarah Ward