Opinion: Hollywood: Banksy redefines the Oscar campaign


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Graffiti attributed to secretive British artist Banksy depicting a child wielding a machine gun, in black and white surrounded by colored flowers, is spotted in Westwood. Credit: Gabriel Bouys / AFP /Getty Images / Feb. 17, 2011

The elusive graffiti artist Banksy, whose film ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ is nominated for an Academy Award (pictured at right, c/o Paranoid Pictures), made his mark in the underground art scene by developing an anti-establishment persona -- one that’s shrouded from the public eye. So it’s not surprising that, while the rest of the Oscar nominees prepare for Sunday’s Academy Awards with interviews and appearances and talk of dazzling gowns, Banksy has gone counterculture. Forget full-page ads in Variety. He’s building buzz with new graffiti art popping up all over L.A. (See photos after the jump.)


But in a town that devotes an entire season to the Oscars, and treats the event as a sacred holiday, has Banksy gone too far? Not at all, says our editorial board:

Oscar campaigns are all about visibility — a carefully calibrated amount, of course — and self-promotion. But Banksy is managing to mock the rituals and the self-seriousness of the Academy Awards even as he promotes himself. As best we can tell, he doesn’t crave true invisibility, nor is he issuing any Garbo-esque demands to be left alone. He’s playing a coy ‘Where’s Banksy?’ game, and so far, it’s been fun to watch. If Academy officials are worried that Banksy might do something bizarre on Oscar night, our advice is not only to get over that but to invite him back next year as a presenter.

Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman couldn’t agree more [via Yahoo]. ‘[A] little dose of Banksy is exactly what Hollywood, and the Academy Awards, need. It’s just what the doctor ordered to wake up a notoriously too-staid ceremony.’

Find more photos after the jump.

--Alexandra Le Tellier

It seems the subversive Brit may be waging an unorthodox award campaign on L.A. walls and billboards. Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters / Feb. 16, 2011

A worker takes down a billboard poster allegedly tagged by the graffiti artist Banksy on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Credit: Chris Pizzello / AP Photo / Feb. 16, 2011


A man walks in front of a mural celebrating Banksy’s Academy Award achievement signed by Mr. Brainwash. Credit: Gabriel Bouys / AFP / Getty Images / Feb. 17, 2011

Graffiti attributed to secretive British artist Banksy depicting Charlie Brown figure starting a fire on the side of a burned-out building on Sunset Boulevard. Credit: Gabriel Bouys / AFP /Getty Images / Feb. 17, 2011

More graffiti attributed to secretive British artist Banksy shows a dog urinating on a wall in Beverly Hills. Credit: Gabriel Bouys / AFP /Getty Images / Feb. 17, 2011

A pedestrian walks past a design on Main Street by street artist Banksy during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Credit: Chris Pizzello / AP Photo / Jan. 25, 2011

A graffiti of a boy with pink angel wings, possibly the work of graffiti artist Banksy, is found on the outside of a parking garage in downtown Park City, Utah, during the Sundance Film Festival. Credit: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times / Jan. 26, 2010

A Banksy artwork in an abandoned London tunnel. Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP / May 02, 2008


In Los Angeles in 2006, Banksy notoriously decorated a warehouse as a living room and engaged an elephant, painted to match the room’s walls, to stand in the middle of it. The artist himself was never seen. Credit: Béatrice de Géa / Los Angeles Times / 2006


Banksy was here -- we think

Rebel in a company town