(with 2018, October 11th & 18 updates) Fascinating $1.4m transformative act (self-destructing stunt?) by anonymous UK-based street artist Banksy. The work is not really “destroyed” because it is in a funny Schrödinger’s cat half-alive & half dead state. A total and more messy destruction would be one that cut the canvas into tiny squares and cut the whole canvas completely and let the pieces fall onto the ground. A total and more beautiful “destruction” is what Tibetan monks do when they blow away their own sand arts (sand mandala is a ritual of creation and destruction, that “symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life“).
Finally, the money/worth question is probably the easiest one to answer. It will be rather stupid for the buyer to use legal means to get out of the deal. The work, after this stunt, will easily worth a lot more. Way more! But what is more interesting to me about art is always about the questions we ask ourselves or the thinking we do about them. We (National Gallery of Canada) paid a controversial $1.8m for Voice of Fire (a painting consists of “three equally sized vertical stripes, with the outer two painted blue and the centre painted red“) in 1989. It was estimated to worth $40m in 2014 and probably more today. And of course, art can’t just be about money. [HT Seastar]
P.S. This “making of” video was posted on Banksy’s official IG page a few hours ago.
Oct 11, 2018 update: Not to the surprise of anyone, this author included, the anonymous collector that had the winning bid is keeping the piece of art history.
“Sotheby’s said the painting has now been re-titled Love is in the Bin and authenticated by Banksy’s Pest Control agency.
Alex Branczik, head of contemporary art for Europe at Sotheby’s, says it is “the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.”
The buyer’s identity was not revealed but Sotheby’s quoted her as saying: “When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history.””
Oct 18, 2018 update: Here is a new video “Shredding the Girl and Balloon – The Director’s Cut” [HT Mashable]
Here is my comment, notes and questions.
“The Director’s *Unfinished* Cut” is probably a more fitting title! :) Nice performance art regardless. If indeed “In rehearsals it worked every time …”, dare I ask what the heck failed? This “art” is forever incomplete because its “mission critical” function of the cutting action failed! Are there engineers or handy women/men out there who have tried to figure out what failed? Was it simply the world’s most expensive show of a paper jam (or canvas jam)?! Here are some time codes and I would love to learn your take of WTF failed? I also wonder how Banksy feels about this canvas jam?!
0:07 The Cutter.
0:10 The drive belt
0:11 The Cutter with Black test canvas
0:13 A test copy of “Girl With Balloon”?
0:14 The battery and wiring.
0:16 The motor (middle of screen) and the cutter (top right)
0:17 Split second right before the back cover was put on. Another motor (bottom middle of screen). Strange placement of it? Why not place the motor symmetrically on the other side of the other motor?
0:20 Nailing shut the back cover.
0:22 The supposed actual copy of “Girl With Balloon” ready for auction.
0:38 “Girl With Balloon” on the wall of the auction house.
2:04 The remote control? (We are led to think they shot this at the auction. But who knows? Location unknown.) What interests me: There are TWO buttons? The button the person pressed. The GREEN button (not pressed). And then the red light. What does the GREEN button do? Is the button meant to stop the cutting?