Selasa, 29 April 2014

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Banksy disses unauthorised London auction of his graffiti art

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 05:35 AM PDT

The reclusive British street artist Banksy disassociated himself from an exhibition of his urban art murals that have been removed from walls and put up for auction in London without his consent.

Among the seven works included in the exhibition called Stealing Banksy? and sale organised by the Sincura Group are Berlin Door, No Ball Games, Liverpool Rat and Girl With Balloon.

In a statement posted on, the artist, who has kept his identity a closely guarded secret and often paints his wall murals in the dead of night, said he had no connection with the sale. The statement can be seen below.

The statement has since been replaced with an unaccompanied image entitled Meat Truck, seen below.

The exhibition and sale have been organised by the Sincura Group, which is charging admission to see the works and says an auction using online and sealed bids will conclude on April 27.

Tony Baxter, the director of Sincura Group, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, a selection of works by elusive British graffiti artist Banksy, including the Mariachi Player and his Rat stencils, are going on sale in June, a Beverly Hills auction house said.

It said it expects the piece to fetch between US$150,000 (RM490,000) and US$200,000, the highest valuation of the five works up for auction.

The news of the auction comes a day after Banksy put a statement on his official website slamming a London sale of his works.

A spokeswoman for Julien's Auctions said all the five Banksy pieces were put up for sale by international collectors of the artist's work. Their identities are being kept private, and the spokeswoman said she was not sure if Banksy himself is aware of the sale.

The Mariachi Player, a mural of a mariachi musician playing a guitar and bearing the artist's signature, was stencilled with black aerosol paint on a wall in Mexico by the artist in 2001, Julien's Auctions said.

Banksy's Rat stencils will also hit the auction block in June, including the Anarchy Rat mural that was spray-painted onto the walls of a military graveyard in Berlin around 2003 and 2004. The auction house estimates it would sell for between US$50,000 and US$70,000.

Rapper Rat, stencilled on a piece of plywood that boarded a wall in Bristol, is expected to sell for between US$30,000 and US$50,000, and Gangsta Rat (seen below), spray-painted onto a triangular yellow car wheel clamp, between US$20,000 and US$40,000.

The final Banksy piece up for auction is the Bomb-Hugger (seen above, with Julien's Auction's warehouse manager, Ricky Limon), a stencil of a little girl hugging a missile with the word 'NO' painted on a piece of cardboard, valued between US$3,000 and US$5,000. The piece is one of many that were handed out by the artist during an anti-war protest in London in February 2003.

Many auctions and sales of his works have been mired in controversy because they were removed from their original site without Banksy's knowledge or approval. But the practice continues as Banksy's works have been commanding higher prices as he has become better known to collectors in the US and continental Europe. 

At a recent event in London held by an art exchange that allows investors to buys shares in works of art, one of the most sought-after pieces was a stencilled painting on canvas by Banksy called Heavy Artillery that features an elephant weighed down by a missile strapped to its back. Its 1,000 shares were listed at £120 (RM660) each.

A mural entitled Kissing Coppers sold for US$575,000 at a Miami auction earlier this year, while Flower Girl, which was painted on the side of a Los Angeles gas station, sold for US$209,000 in December. – Reuters

'Privacy' shows theatre audience it hasn't got much in digital age

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 03:25 AM PDT

Privacy may well be the first play to ask audience members to leave their mobile phones turned on – and its treatment of the subject matter strongly suggests that it doesn't exist anymore.

Those smart phones are among the stars of the new play by British playwright James Graham, which opened this week at London's intimate Donmar Warehouse. And like a late-generation phone, Privacy is crammed with an awful lot of features.

They include a vast number of characters, ranging from British foreign minister William Hague to British civil liberties advocate Shami Chakrabarti to the Guardian newspaper's defence and intelligence correspondent, Ewen MacAskill, who was part of the team that broke the Edward Snowden NSA leaks story.

Those and at least a dozen more are played for the two hour and 30-minute running time by a half dozen actors and actresses.

None has a more important line than the one who repeats Hague's famous rationale for the government's wholesale collection of data on private citizens, exposed by the Snowden leaks: If you are a law-abiding citizen "you have nothing to fear" from intelligence services listening in.

The rest of the evening is devoted to showing how wrong Hague was. People who haven't done anything wrong might still worry about strangers being able to track their movements down to the addresses they have visited recently and how long they spent there, or about advertisers using nuggets of information about their tastes and preferences littered across the Internet to promote a product until they finally cave in and buy it.

One of the play's darkly comic revelations shows that shoppers using Amazon in the United States to buy a baseball bat get offers to add a baseball glove. British purchasers get a suggestion to add a balaclava – a useful disguise for somebody using a bat as a weapon.

Mining mobiles

All the while, a young man seated onstage at a desk with an Apple notebook computer has been using the theatre's WiFi to mine the audience's mobile phones. He finds out their professions and where they live and, a bit later, provides a quick slide-show montage projected onstage of their houses, as taken from the images available on Google Earth.

All this is a bit like an old-time magic show, with the smart phone replacing the rabbit in the hat. It is all loosely strung on a narrative about a character called 'The Writer', played by Joshua McGuire, who is a Luddite resisting all things digital and social networky. He is being goaded by 'The Director', played with almost sadistic gusto by Michelle Terry, to deliver a play about, what else – privacy.

The play touches on many facets of the privacy issue in the digital age, from government snooping to commercial use of data. "When you use a service that is free, you are the product being sold," one of the characters says.

Where it falls short is in building a case, on one side or the other. Is trading off free services and greater security worth the commercial exploitation of personal data and wholesale government collection of personal communications?

"For all its urgent topicality, I felt the play short-circuited the crucial debate about how we guarantee a measure of privacy in the digital age," reviewer Michael Billington wrote in The Guardian. "What I longed for was a real intellectual tussle between those who see our essential privacy as under threat and those –
there are some – who argue that is the price we pay for security from external threat." – Reuters


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