SHINING THE SPOTLIGHT ON WOMEN STREET ARTISTS
Banksy is one of the world’s most widely known street artists. Banksy’s work can be viewed on walls and, increasingly, in art galleries and museums around the world. Managing to remain anonymous even while scaling the summits of celebrity, Banksy’s identity remains a mystery. Yet one thing is certain: he is not a she.
Why are we not surprised? Because street art (like just about any other form of visual art) has an unmistakably macho pedigree. Think back to New York City in the 1980s, when “graffiti” became “graffiti art”, vandalism became a viable career option, and Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat rocketed out of the subways and into the art world stratosphere. Seemed like all you needed was a can of spray paint and an attitude and everyone wanted a piece of you. If you were male.
So now there’s Banksy. He’s good at stirring controversy and perhaps even better at drawing attention (in clever ways) to his anonymous self. But this past summer Banksy bumbled into some controversy that, at the very least, makes us question whether he deserves to be called “clever”. Banksy (or his representatives) used his Instagram account to draw attention to a wall emblazoned with the slogan, “Feminism is a weapon, weapons are for war, make love not war!” Were these words Banksy’s own or someone else’s? For blogger Mohadesa Najumi, that question is beside the point. “Whether or not Banksy was being ‘ironic’ … he must have known that a statement like this one will be taken literally by many people and thus continue the already existent demonization of the feminist movement,” she writes.
Leaving aside Banksy’s particular views on feminism and war, perhaps it’s time to leave aside Banksy altogether and get better acquainted with some womenwho, as it happens, are making some of the most powerful street art today. For starters there’s Bambi, who The Guardian actually labeled “the female Banksy”. There’s a recent HuffPost roundup of 10 Women Street Artists Who Are Better than Banksy.
And (drum roll, please) there’s the Women’s Forum Street Art Project. Women street artists around the world are participating in a full week of happenings (6-14 October 2014) on the theme “She’s A Leader”. It’s more than a first step into a post-Banksy universe. The Women’s Forum Street Art Project shows how much we’re missing if we believe street art to be the exclusive province of men.
A trip around the world and the work of artists taking part in the Women's Forum Street Art Project - Stay tuned!
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