When Banksy lands in a city and begins a street art-making spree, there's a routine that usually follows. First, the stenciled paintings are ignored, then, after people realize what they are, they are gawked at and occasionally vandalized. Eventually, they are cordoned off and protected from the public, and finally, they are physically removed, and someone makes a lot of money, or hopes to. An extreme version of this complex lottery played out for one unlucky family in Gaza recently.
Capping his month-long residency in New York City, Banksy donated a work of art titled "The Banality of the Banality of Evil" to Housing Works, a charity that provides housing to the homeless and AIDS patients. The work was to be auctioned off to raise money for the charity, but in classic fashion for the reclusive artist, the auction devolved into finger-pointing and accusations, with the anonymous winning bidder backing out of their bid.
At dusk, Banksy revealed the newest piece in his month-long rampage of New York City's streets: a Grim Reaper in a scythe-powered bumper car, listlessly bobbing to Blue Öyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper." The installation sits at the corner of Houston and Elizabeth Streets and, according to Banksy's site, will remain there through Sunday.
Here is a thoughtful article, in the New York Post, about the "complex prestige game" that informs the New York graffiti community's disdain toward Banksy: "'Street art' is associated with whimsy and even gentrification—things the mainstream considers socially good, or at the least, nondestructive."
On Tuesday, a ferocious vandal urinated on Banksy's flower-bursting Twin Towers stencil, as a cluster of awestruck humans watched. The culprit's name is Freddi, he's an eight-year-old pug, and his caretaker is Elisa Casas, a lifelong New Yorker who was also cast on the Sundance Channel reality show Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys.