Celebrity spray paint criminal Banksy was never going to let the London 2012 Olympics go by without a little anti-establishment propaganda.
It’s not quite a cheap shot, but it’s an easy target, and there isn’t much subtlety in the delivery. In fact, the primary message is so simple – oppression, war, bad – that people very quickly ignored it and leapt straight to wondering about the 1468 on the athlete’s chest.
“What’s the significance?” wondered 9 out of 10 online forums. And boy did it bring out the conspiracy theorists. Here’s a sample:
1468 could = ONE FOR 68 = Black power salute.
1468 was the athlete number worn by Osleidys Menendez in the 2008 Olympics…
She competed in javelin and represented Cuba. Cuba -> missile crisis.
As for the artwork’s whereabouts, I’ve read it is / was anywhere from Shoreditch to Palestine. I’ve also read that Banksy fans are hiding the exact location as if it belongs in a Dan Brown novel. Believe what makes you happy.
My conspiracy theory
I believe that Banksy has traded in his stencils for a MacBook Pro and now does all his graffiti in Photoshop like the rest of you. And then he blames the fact that hardly anyone ever actually sees his art in person on the government’s crackdown on street art.
All it takes is a couple of claimed sightings and somebody to accuse Big Brother of washing off the art before the people can appreciate it, and just like that he never has to breathe paint fumes again while raising a finger to the man.
This is the other “comment” that Banksy made using the Olympic backdrop. I’m not sure of this one’s “message”, but I suspect I could throw something together along the lines of poverty, legacy and bank vaults.
I’ve called myself a Banksy fan in the past, of his art more than his politics, I hasten to add. I have his Wall and Piece book somewhere. But I felt these Olympic efforts were a bit hollow, and it’s hard to look past the Photoshop thing.