There are cock and bull stories and there are shaggy dog stories and there are complete piss-takes. The Banksy Job is kind of a mix of all three. At its center is a Bansky obsessive who goes by the artsy sobriquet AK47. His real name is Andy Link, and he’s an aggressively grating caricature of a guy who outwardly expresses artistic aspirations but inwardly just craves notoriety. At a party, he’s someone you watch from a distance but might dread actually having to talk to.
The entire existence of The Banksy Job requires some familiarity with Banky/his street art and the 2010 Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. AK47 is the man who orchestrated the theft of Banksy’s sculpture The Drinker (a piss-take on Rodin’s The Thinker), and The Banksy Job seems like a bit of aggrandizement about the act and himself.
[This film is playing as part of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, running from April 13-24 in New York City. For tickets and more information, click here.]
The Banksy Job
Directors: Ian Roderick Gray and Dylan Harvey
Release Date: TBD
AK47 is the head of the art collective Art Kieda, a self-described “arto-politico humorist movement” (because who else would describe it that way?). He becomes obsessed with Banksy after the artist refused to sign a print purchased at a party. AK47 could have purchased a signed print from the same party, but he wanted to save money. Out of spite, he steals The Drinker.
Is a Heist a Work of Art?
Maybe. The heist itself plays out like a sloppy, slackery bit of municipal roadwork, but there’s a kind of brazen moxie about it all. If it’s not a work of performance art, it may be a great bit of silliness. You get a sense watching AK47 that he views everything as a kind of lark, from his previous careers as a rave organizer and amateur porn star/pornographer to his current attempts at art making. And yet saying it’s a work of art might be off–is any act a work of art simply because someone says so, even if they’re taking the piss? The way AK47 giggles and preens during and in retrospect, it almost seems as if he’s also having a wank.
Is AK47 an artist?
AK47 calls himself an art-terrorist, and to the extent that this entire act of thievery caused a kind of interruption of routine he’s accurately described himself. And yet in stealing the art and later trying to sell it (after a series of unexpected complications), he offers a weird exercise in the philosophy of art. AK47 delves into the origins of The Drinker‘s creation and presents the audience with the kitsch equivalent of the Theseus’ Ship Paradox. Maybe AK47 is an artist who relies on the work of others–Banksy, Al Qaeda, Plutarch, Exit Through the Gift Shop–to arrive at salient aesthetic ideas. It’s sort of like being drunk and finding the $20 that someone else left in the ATM at the bar.
Is The Banksy Job Just Taking the Piss?
Like Exit Through the Gift Shop, much of The Banksy Job leaves the viewer wondering how much is real, how much is invented, and how much is just a series of weird half-truths. There’s a bit of everything in there, including a recitation of the Art Kieda code, yet something tells me the collective isn’t quite the army AK47 suggests. Banksy appears in the film as an interviewee, or at least it’s some guy with his face blacked out and his voice digitally altered to protect his identity. It fits the AK47/Art Kieda aesthetic, though–whether real or not, it’s all pretty much about taking the piss.
Okay, But Is It Art?
Good question. Hell if I know. The safe answer is “Maybe?”