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  1. Life & Culture

Exhibit claiming to show Banksy artworks is coming to Tampa

The touring exhibition “Banksyland” is not authorized by the mysterious artist.
A screenshot from the website for the exhibit "Banksyland," which claims to show Banksy works. It's coming to Tampa in November.
A screenshot from the website for the exhibit "Banksyland," which claims to show Banksy works. It's coming to Tampa in November. [ banksyland.com ]
Published Sep. 23|Updated Sep. 26

What’s the deal with the “Banksyland” exhibition coming to Tampa that’s being advertised on social media?

We know it’s not authorized by pseudonymous street artist Banksy — the exhibition’s website sports the tagline “Banksy: Unauthorised. Uncensored. Unmasked.”

And exhibitions specifically like this are addressed on Banksy’s website:

I see a new exhibition of Banksy work has just opened, is it authorised?

Nope. Banksy has NOTHING to do with any of the current or recent exhibitions and they are nothing like a genuine Banksy show. They might be crap so please don’t come to us for a refund.

Based in England, Banksy’s anti-authority street art has become a global phenomenon. Banksy started out as a graffiti artist and is also an activist and filmmaker. That the artist has managed to keep his identity unknown is astounding.

Despite criticisms of the art establishment, Banksy has been embraced by it. In 2018, his painting “Girl with Balloon” partially self-shredded moments after it was sold for $1.4 million at an auction at Sotheby’s. Ironically, that work now titled “Love is in the Bin” was resold by the auction house for a whopping $25.4 million last year.

Yet Banksy keeps a tight rein over the sale and authentication of his works, as there are many fakes. Works that he’s left in the streets are often taken.

The “Banksyland” website only provides a brief description of the show, which is set to come to Tampa Nov. 18-20: “‘Banksyland’ is an international touring exhibition that immerses audiences in the works of the world’s most infamous and elusive artist: BANKSY. The first ever Tampa exhibit features more than 80 pieces and installations; including original and studio works, salvaged street artworks, and never-before-seen immersive installations in a secret downtown Tampa location (ticket holders will receive event location 1-2 weeks before event opening).”

Why the location is a secret is one burning question. For $29 (or $59 for a VIP experience, which includes all-day access, an audio tour and a limited-edition hand-screened exhibition poster), people will want to know where they’re going.

The exhibition’s tour debuted in Portland, Oregon, in May. Elle Miller, curator of “Banksyland,” told the online publication Oregon ArtsWatch at that time that she hadn’t secured venues in the rest of the cities, which may shed light on why the locations are kept “secret.”

A review of the stop in Austin, Texas, in Sightlines, an independent online arts and culture magazine, bears the headline: “‘Banksyland’ capitalizes on Banksy’s anti-capitalist message.” The author writes that it “positively groans with irony.”

The “Banksyland” website says the exhibition is produced by One Thousand Ways, an “international experiential arts company specializing in innovative immersive events.”

The Seattle Times reported in May on two unauthorized Banksy exhibitions that are making the rounds, including “Banksyland.” It also said that Miller is the creator of One Thousand Ways, which was established to start the “Banksyland” show.

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Miller told The Seattle Times that she’d originally conceived of One Thousand Ways as a nonprofit organization, with the idea of donating a portion of the proceeds to arts organizations. It ended up being an LLC.

Around that time, on the “Banksyland” website, visitors could support the organization Americans for the Arts — whose logo was featured there — by adding $5 to their ticket purchases.

But a spokesperson from Americans for the Arts told The Seattle Times that the organization didn’t have a relationship with “Banksyland.” Miller acknowledged that but said she still intended to donate the money to the group and to local arts organizations.

Now, the Americans for the Arts logo does not appear on the “Banksyland” website, nor does any suggestion of donating to other organizations.

An interview request emailed to the “Banksyland” website went unanswered.

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