Graffiti artist Banksy’s exhibit at Bristol Museum has caused a fair bit of controversy. After all, how can someone who claims to be anti-establishment have an exhibition at a museum, which are, let’s be honest, incredibly “establishment”?
The establishment may have some concerns about their own role in this – it is known Westminster Council would quite happily arrest the man, given half the chance. However, the problem is dealt with by signs dotted around the exhibition, which explain “the museum itself does not support or condone any form of illegal activity, regardless of it’s artistic merit”. (And just to make clear, the “it’s” of the previous sentence is the museum’s mistake, not mine. Establishment it may be, grammatically correct it certainly is not.)
But, regardless of the Establishment debate, there is an exhibition, and it is a pretty good one at that.
I won’t pretend to be an art critic because, quite frankly, I know about as much about art as a monkey knows about the periodic table, but I do know it made me laugh, avert my eyes (pseudo-classical statues in sadomasochistic leather… well), and question the great British public’s general knowledge.
I say the last bit because this revelation sticks in my mind more than the mouse painting over Hirst’s dots, more than the two fat tourists being pulled by a small child, and more than the fishfinger swimming in a fishbowl.
The great British public’s general ignorance was laid bare in front of a piece, depicting apes in the House of Commons. It is, I would say, perfectly clear it is the House of Commons. But it appears I am wrong. So wrong.
Because, according to one woman explaining to her very small children, it is a courtroom, “like in Harry Potter”, with a judge (known to others as the Speaker of the House, but let’s not split hairs), which would mean the other monkeys in the picture were other members of the Wizamagot (I don’t only know my British politics, ladies and gentlemen, I know my Harry Potter).
The question is, if this, a seemingly clear reference to MPs being a bunch of useless apes, is flying over the heads of the public (on a Hogwarts-esque broomstick, apparently) then are any of the more subtle digs being understood at all?
And if they’re not, it is certainly not Banksy versus Bristol Museum, but rather Banksy versus an incredibly uninformed public…