To see interesting art you don’t have to go to a gallery, you just have to walk the streets. One of the most reproduced images of the past couple of weeks is a mural, commissioned in Brixton, of David Bowie, by the Australian street artist Jimmy C (James Cochran) which now acts as an unofficial shrine. There are critics who exist simply to say that if something is popular it is by implication bad. Those people like their art defined, refined and confined. All else is vulgar.
Along with Cochran, Banksy has also raised the street art bar with his new interactive piece opposite the French embassy. It shows the poster girl from Les Misérables with tears in her eyes. Next to her is a CS gas canister. There is a stencilled QR code (which can be read by smartphones) that takes the viewer to a video of teargas being used in a raid on the Calais refugee camps earlier this month.
The use of QR codes in street art is not new – in Berlin an artist called Sweza uses QR codes to take viewers to audio or sometimes images of what has now been “cleaned away”. What Banksy is doing is overtly political, as was his mural of Steve Jobs (the son of a Syrian immigrant), which has since been vandalised in Calais, as was his Raft of Medusa next to the town’s immigration office, as was his shipping of the leftover structures of Dismaland to help build emergency housing for the migrants there.
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