Image via Banksy
Banksy’s 2013 NYC residency was 10 months ago and people are still talking about it. For 31 days this past October, the elusive, controversial and extremely polarizing British street artist Banksy took up shop in NYC for his latest art show/project/thing-to-piss-people-off titled Better Out Than In. Ten months removed from the madness and excitement (and constant debates) he caused in our fair city, renowned street art/graffiti photographer and independent publisher Ray Mock is publishing the book Banksy in New York, which releases August 15th at noon EST. The 120-page photography book and critique positions itself as “the ultimate companion to the British’s artist month-long project on the streets of New York in October, 2013.”
Ray Mock or CarnageNYC has been photographing and documenting graffiti and street art for almost a decade. He has a weekly column for Juxtapoz magazine and self publishes zines which are extremely popular in the graffiti/street art world. Mock’s goal with the Carnage line of zines and collectibles is to keep graffiti/street art from being completely digital. He is a proponent of owning something you can feel and look through, not just admiring art by double tapping it twice on a screen.
Mock’s photography has been featured in numerous websites and books, including another one about Banksy. Titled Banksy. You Are An Acceptable Level of Threat, the book compares the British street artist and documentary filmmaker to the Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara. These comparisons are not uncommon as fans of Banksy like to showcase him as a revolutionary the likes of Che and Karl Marx. On the other hand, those who hate Banksy label him a poser, an overrated and un-talented hack who has not done anything truly revolutionary or original in years.
For Banksy in New York, Mock spent each day last October searching for Banksy’s work in the streets of NYC, documenting the impact his work made by speaking to locals, business and building owners and yes, to fans. This book however, is not a blind praising at the altar of all things Banksy. Though in the camp of Banksy fans, Mock speaks from an extensive knowledge of graffiti and street art, and remains critical of the work by the world’s most popular and hated street artist. Not only is he critical of the artist, but he is also critical of Banksy’s lovers and detractors. The book is a personal account of someone who saw first hand the defacement, the love, the hate and the confusion that filled the NYC art world for 31 days last October.
What Mock is offering here (along with 120 pages of photography and illustration) is an insightful and detailed look into the impact Banksy made when he took up residency in NYC. What separates Mock’s book from those that have come before is his willingness to offer critique, not to offend or seem radical, but to get a conversation started that is more than just “Banksy is revolution” or “Banksy is not a real artist.” This discourse has plagued art street art discussion for too long. Let’s hope Mock’s book can turn the conversation.
He may know who Banksy is, or he may not, you’ll never know if you do not contact the author @TatteredFedora