Banksy’s piece of vandalism gets… vandalised
For as long as anyone can remember, a patch of wasteland by the Pacific Coast Highway between Santa Monica and Malibu has been home to a peculiar eyesore: a derelict oil tank, painted beige, with a small pipe protruding from its left hand side. Local residents of this expensive part of West Los Angeles have for years campaigned to force the landowner to have it removed. But to no avail.
Then Banksy came to town. During a short, sharp working visit to Southern California, the world’s most famous street artist found time to use one of his stencil kits a daub a humourous message to the side of the derelict oil tank, which is passed by thousands of commuters each day. It popped up one night in mid February, was illustrated on his personal website, and read: “this looks a bit like an elephant.”
No-one would accuse this work (pictured) of being Banksy’s finest. But it was funny enough to inspire a quick smirk, and for a short time turned the oil tank into a minor tourist attraction. Each day, dozens of people in skinny jeans would photograph themselves in front of the jaunty slogan. It became, if you like, a hipster’s alternative to the Hollywood sign.
But in the transient world of street art, nothing lasts forever. On Friday, I drove past the “elephant” to see a crew of workmen using a crane to lift it onto a tow truck. When I stopped to ask what was going on, one told me that the owner of the land, a gentleman too miserly to have removed the oil tank when it represented a piece of derelict trash, now intended to flog it, to the highest bidder. It’s now no longer there.
Over the years, Banksy has reluctantly grown to accept that his pieces will get cut out of concrete walls, or taken down from billboards. It’s what happens when an overheated art market that values them at hundreds of thousands of pounds. But this episode marks a new first: here, his small act of vandalism has resulted in a large suburban eyesore being tidied up. Which is an irony that I hope he appreciates.Tagged in: LA life
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