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‘Banksyland’ Curator: Bringing Banksy to the People

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‘Balloon Girl’ and ‘Kissing Coppers’ exhibit | Image by BANKSYLAND

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A team of curators has created BANKSYLAND, an immersive experience that includes more than 80 different Banksy works and others inspired by the English artist. The event will make its way to the Dallas Art District from June 24 to July 4. 

You do not have to be immersed in the world of art to have heard of Banksy. The elusive artist has created some of the most controversial works in the past three decades and makes headlines with every new creation.

The Dallas Express spoke with Elle Miller, one of BANKSYLAND‘s curators, about the art, influence, and impact of Banksy. 

“Banksy is an intriguing figure,” said Miller when asked what makes the artist unique. “Anytime he shows up in the news, people want to know about it because his work, his stories, and his anonymity are fascinating.” 

Miller mentions one of Banksy’s most famous works, Love Is In The Air, which shows a rioter throwing a bouquet in place of a Molotov cocktail.

“He uses icons that are readily accessible in the sense that, when you see them, you can understand their message immediately,” explains Miller. “The message isn’t simplistic, which I think is really beautiful.”

Miller looks at some of Banksy’s art through the lens of comedy, as some of Banksy’s works feature humor. Even some of Banky’s actions have led to comical, unforgettable moments — like his most famous prank: installing an automatic shredder inside the frame of his iconic Balloon Girl painting, causing the piece to self-destruct upon its sale at auction.

Banksy even managed to be controversial when it came to BANKSYLAND.

Questions of whether the artist had authorized various exhibitions prompted his representatives to release a statement that read, “Nope. Banksy has NOTHING to do with any current or recent exhibitions, and they are nothing like a genuine Banksy show. They might be crap, so please don’t come to us for a refund.” 

While several shows are listed as “fake” on Pestcontroloffice.com, the official website of everything Banksy, BANKSYLAND is not one of them. 

One might wonder if the traveling exhibit is another of Banksy’s elaborate pranks, but Miller swears that pranks are not a part of the exhibit.

BANKSYLAND is an unauthorized exhibit, but for Miller, it was important to put the collection together to give people a chance to view the art in the way Banksy intended — “in the world.”

“The unfortunate edge of his popularity is that when he creates graffiti pieces, they’re almost immediately taken down and sold off into private collections,” says Miller. “If you are a person who is curious about Banksy, there are very limited places you can actually find it.” 

Miller remarked one must travel to Los Angeles or London to see Banksy’s art in its original setting. Much like going to a live concert, Miller explained, seeing Banksy’s art in person and up close is a unique experience. 

“My goal is to give people access to art that they wouldn’t have that tangible access to because people are interested in him,” she said. “I think he has an incredible social message, and his art is profound and worth sharing, even though he’s unable to do that in the way that he originally wanted to, by putting up street art in the hopes that it would stay there for people to see in the world.”

BANKSYLAND features signed, authenticated pieces from the artist’s studio, salvaged street art, and other Banksy-inspired additions.

Another treat for Banksy fans is the interpretations of past works that now have new meaning in the wake of the pandemic. 

“When you look at some of the work in the context of the show, in the context of COVID, and the things that have happened in the last couple of years, you can see that connection, and you can kind of pull new meaning from them, which is really fascinating,” commented Miller. 

As for what Miller hopes people will take away from BANKSYLAND, understanding is most important. 

“I hope people walk away with a strong understanding of the social message that he’s putting into his art; I hope they feel motivated to do great things in the world; I hope they think twice about being critical of the government or about social policy, and they act for the benefit of all humanity,” she shared. 

As a curator for BANKSYLAND, Miller worked to give Banksy’s art an immersive treatment while drawing in new art lovers. Despite his popularity, Banksy’s elusiveness has let him remain distant from the art world yet accessible to the people, she said.

Miller hopes the art show will give people a deeper connection to art. 

“Experiential art shows are really valuable [because they allow] people to have a better connection to art in general in their lives,” Miller added. “I think it’s enriching for everyone, especially when you have an artist like Banksy, who has a beautiful social message you can share.”

As BANKSYLAND makes its way to Dallas, there will be plenty of security surrounding the uber-secretive location somewhere in the city’s arts district. Banksy’s works have sold for up to $1.4 million, so to ensure there are no issues, Miller said security will be a top priority during the event. Ticketholders will receive the event location approximately two weeks before the event opens.

Tickets are available for purchase for the opening on June 24. BANKSYLAND runs through July 4.      

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