Fifteen minutes

In 1968 Andy Warhol launched the idea that: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Later in 1979 Warhol restated his idea with the words: “…my prediction from the sixties finally came true: In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”

Yesterday my colleague Dr Dick posted this amazing quote on Facebook:

In the future, everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes.

With a little googling I found the origins of the quote come from the great street artist Banksy – here is a picture from one of his exhibitions.

This was a brilliant twist on the classic Warhol idea. Today everyone is striving for fame in a way that has never been done before. If we then add the death of privacy both the voluntary and the semi-voluntary. We voluntarily give away our privacy through blogs, twitter and facebook (and tons of other web2.0 applications). Then we semi-voluntarily give away too much information through our dependence upon technology.

Through all this loss of privacy the question is no longer one of fame or recognition. The question is if we in the future can have any privacy at all. So in the same way as Warhol in the sixties surprised (or even shocked?) people by claiming people would have fame the question today is more relevant whether we will have privacy.

Fifteen minutes of privacy is an important question to be thought about considering the way in which or society is moving.

Stuffed birds in the Cathedral?

About five years ago the artist Banksy performed hang and run art. What he would do was to take art with him into a museum and hang it up among the other artwork. This is a fun idea since most museum security is concerned with keeping the visitors from destroying or removing art – not adding to it.

See more about Banksy’s hang and run here.

While in Uppsala this week I came across an interesting variation on the theme. While attending a workshop on mashups we were taken on a guided tour of Uppsala Cathedral. It’s an amazing building filled with loads of dead kings, queens, nobility and a random selection of famous people. In short its a nice place to tour.

At the end of the Cathedral is the Vasa Chapel were the Gustav Vasa is buried with his wife (nr 9 on map). The chapel has a gate and sitting on the gate someone has stuck small stuffed birds…

photo: stuffed birds by wrote (cc by-nc)

The birds may look realistic but I can assure they they are very dead. When I asked our guide he was surprised to see them and my guess is that this is a variation of Banksy’s guerilla art project. Lots of fun. I wonder how long they have been there and how long they will remain there.

Banksy unmasked

It was only a matter of time before his growing fame led to his unmasking. The Mail on Sunday reveals the evidence they present to his identity. But… Banksy’s publicist would neither confirm nor deny whether the artist was Robin Gunningham.

The future of street art

A Banksy murial on Portobello road was sold on ebay for £208,100 (approx. $400,000) the price did not include removal costs. The wall belonged to Luti Fagbenle who felt that he could not “really justify owning a piece of art worth as much as it is.”

The Banksy mural on Portobello road

(Photo by Cactusbones) (CC by-nc-sa)

Street art has been growing for a long time and Banksy must be seen as one of the most widely known artists in the genre. But he is not alone. As Art Threat reports the world’s first Urban Art auction at Bonhams Fine Art Auctioneers will be held on February 5th.

What does this mean for the future of Street Art? Art Threat has written an interesting comment on street arts ephemeral nature as an important feature and Banksy has added a comment on the his webpage:

“Aren’t street art auctions a bit lame?
I don’t agree with auction houses selling street art – its undemocratic, it glorifies greed and I never see any of the money.”

So the artists don’t get paid and the artwork is ripped, literally sometimes, out of their context – how will this effect the art? Previously the most exploitative use of graffiti has been street art photo books. These products raise exciting questions about copyright and graffiti (blogged about this issue earlier here and here) but selling the works raises other exciting questions.

The person buying the work will most probably remove it to display it elsewhere. This de-contextualizes of the art but it also adds a disincentive to the artist. Now it is not enough to know that your work will be painted over but it may also be removed and sold to enrich someone else. Your work may become a commodity to be regularly bought and sold without the artists control or permission. Should the artists be concerned?

(Story on BBC & Observer)