Monday, 28 October 2013

Why do we care what Banksy thinks of the One World Trade Centre?

Image my own. 
Street artist Bansky submitted a controversial Op-Ed to The New York Times. It was rejected, due to the newspaper's inability to agree on the piece or the images used. The piece was then posted as a NYT mockup on Banksy's own website, among many things he stated that the new One World Trade Centre is evidence that "the terrorists won" and that New York has lost it's nerve.  New York Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy also told the New York Post that “What he has posted on his site is not exactly the same as what he submitted.”

"It would be easy to view One World Trade Centre as a betrayal of everyone who lost their lives on September 11th, because it so clearly proclaims the terrorists won."

What I wonder is, why do we care? Does Bansky have any credibility? He produces art,  and although it is very impressive art, why do we care what his own thoughts are upon this addition to the New York City skyline? We should wonder whether his comments in which he labels the tower "vanilla" hold any weight at all. Banksy is undeniably a opinion leader for the hipsters of the Millenial generation, and he creates interesting pieces of street art, but we wonder if he considers that there are other factors when building a skyscraper of this magnitude. The redevelopment of the World Trade Centre site has cost $4 billion to build and there are also logistical and security obligations to take into account. His critique of the architectural design of the building and it's influence have caused a divide. Many agree with him, but many find it an insult to this homage of the harrowing events of 9/11. It is a preservation of memory, whether or not it fits your personal taste is entirely your choice as definitions of art are varied - no one is asking you to buy a trophy snow-globe of it from a souvenir shop.

“It’s vanilla. It looks like something they would build in Canada."

The artist also calls the building a "Shyscraper" - a street artist whose power is rooted in anonymity. Forgive me, but who is the shy one now? Words are easily spoken when there is no identity to accept the backlash. In the wake of Banksy's comments, discount retailer Century 21, which sits close to the tower, has cancelled it's display of his artwork due to run through November 6.

It is a completely subversive skyscraper in terms of the rest of the buildings that have taken shape in Manhattan. It has been considered dull. It has also been considered rushed, cheap, and an eyesore to locals glancing out of their windows. From my own perspective from my visits, it is a calming influence on Lower Manhattan. A quiet and unassuming giant in a city monopolized by unapologetic vibrancy. It can be argued that the new Freedom Tower doesn't fit the skyline of the city, but would anything replace the Twin Towers- an image so iconic that it burns in the memory longer than the ashes of the buildings themselves? Is there any way to articulate tragedy in a building? Would Bansky have the city of New York hang banners across the tower screaming "Come at me, bro"?

There is a reason that skyscrapers are inspirational to the human mind. They stand. Even long after they fall, something is built in it's lonely shadow and rises to take it's place. It never gives up, much like New Yorkers. I am a Brit like Banksy, and I might say things others do not agree with, but at least there's a face to the name.

NY Daily News
NY Daily News
New York Magazine

Side Note: I am 100% supportive of alternative voices, I just don't happen to agree with this one.