Throughout October of 2013, the street artist Banksy held a “residency” in New York City, offering up a new piece every day of that month. Banksy Does New York, an HBO documentary that was not produced by Banksy (or so it is claimed), wittily, cleverly and thoroughly covers that residency, thus providing those of us who weren’t in that city at that time the chance to experience just what a major and wondrous artistic event it was.
Banksy’s achievement that month was huge, and the film demonstrates that. It must have involved years of planning and considerable expense. Banksy emerges as way more than a street artist; his New York residency must now place him among the great conceptual artists of all time. The myriad ways his work that October refract through observation, photo and video capture, internet dissemination, destruction, theft, re-display and now this film make the event an astonishing experiment the likes of which has never before been seen.
Along the way, filmmaker Chris Moukarbel not only engages with themes of street art and its existence within the larger art world, but also – and most strongly – with the ongoing gentrification of New York City. By the end of the month it became clear that that was one of Banksy’s artistic themes as well. I reckon he’d be pleased with this film. I certainly was. And I’m Banksy.