Banksy & The Pinacoteca: English in the Gallery

We talked about this mural last week in the English class I teach at the Pinacoteca, or Art Gallery.

Photo from Artribune

In the mural, Banksy depicts an immigrant child on a palazzo in Venice holding a flare … the pink smoke forms the outline of the USA and the child’s pose is reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty. This was pointed out by an astute and observant student; something that was missed by the journalists who reported on the event.

Photo collage by Roberto Cultreri

The mural was painted overnight on the occasion of the 2019 opening of the Venice Biennale. The building, a rundown palace in the Dorsoduro district, increased astronomically in value, much to the owner’s joy.

Boats zip up and down the canal now, with tourists snapping shots. 

Meanwhile, in another area of Venice, a mysterious man set up a stall with a mosaic of framed paintings depicting the “Overtourism” phenomenon– huge cruise ships risk destroying the gorgeous buildings in St. Mark’s Square or the Rialto Bridge or Santa Maria della Salute…the list is long and filled with priceless treasures.

Photo from Artribune

Are the paintings by Banksy? Is the man behind the newspaper the artist himself?

Apparently the paintings are by the artist, as he himself confirmed on Instagram, but the mysterious man, later identified as one Ivo Papadia, was hired to add mystery to the endeavor.

Banksy, who has never been invited to exhibit at the official Biennale, demonstrates he doesn’t need an invitation in order to show up, surprise people and make waves.

Soon after the stall was set up, a video was taken and posted on Youtube. A woman can be heard remarking in Italian how these are the best works she’s seen at the Biennale so far. In the same video, later, two vigili urbani (traffic cops), come by and close down the installation; a permit to sell art hadn’t been purchased. Did they feel somewhat ridiculous later, when they discovered whose stall they had shuttered? Unfortunately the video is no longer available on Youtube.

Instead, this video below, by Mashable, eliminates the Italian and provides English subtitles.

I wished I had been there and could have offered to buy up the lot. How much would they have cost? It would be fantastic to have them hanging in my living room now.

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