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'Guerrilla' artist challenges capitalism
Banksy, the British graffiti artist and prankster, opened his first Los Angeles show in an obscure warehouse, bringing his subversive humour and anti-capitalist message to a city better known for wealth and self-obsession.
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2006 06:17 GMT
Banksy caused controversy by painting the West Bank barrier
Banksy, the British graffiti artist and prankster, opened his first Los Angeles show in an obscure warehouse, bringing his subversive humour and anti-capitalist message to a city better known for wealth and self-obsession.

"Barely Legal," a free three-day event billed as a "vandalised warehouse extravaganza," opened with the excitement and puzzlement that has come to be the hallmark of the elusive "guerrilla artist."

Banksy keeps his identity secret but has built up a cult following in Europe over the last four years, placing his work in top museums, zoos or on the streets.

Manny Skiles, 30, a Los Angeles graphic designer who has spent two years following Banksy's work mostly through the Internet, said: "It is really amazing. I think he is hilarious."

Skiles and dozens of others spent more than an hour lining up to buy $500 limited print editions of Banksy's work. The originals sell for up to 25,000 pounds sterling.

Pink elephant

On one wall, a stencil art picture shows bush hunters in loincloths raising their spears at empty supermarket shopping carts.

On another, a masked street anarchist with a thrown back arm prepares to hurl - a bunch of flowers.

But the placid pink elephant takes pride of place. Tai, 38, looms large in a room decked out with a sofa, a television, rugs on the floor and a man and woman sitting reading obliviously on the couch. It is titled "Home Sweet Home."

Kari Johnson, Tai's caretaker, said: "We are sitting on the couch not seeing her. From what I understand, the elephant is a symbol of all the world's problems being ignored.”

"There is nothing in the world I would ever do to harm an elephant. The paint is nontoxic and washable and does not hurt a bit," Johnson told Reuters.

Guantanamo prank

Banksy, as is his custom, was not around to discuss his show, which followed a prank at Disneyland this month in which he placed a blow-up figure dressed in orange Guantanamo Bay prison overalls beside a roller-coaster ride.

Last month, Banksy placed remixed copies of Paris Hilton's debut CD in stores across England. He gave them titles such as "Why Am I Famous?" and "What Am I For?"

In the "Barely Legal" show, the fake Hilton CDs are displayed in a plexiglass case alongside photo-shopped pictures of the hotel heiress and live cockroaches.

Source:
Reuters
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