Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Outside the Banksy versus Bristol Museum

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on October 7, 2009

Banksy v Museum/ 3hr 30min wait/ LAST ENTRY 4.30pm

Printed A4 notices are written different approximately waiting time at different locations alongside the long queue for Banksy versus Bristol Museum.  Neither these notices nor museum staffs who keep telling people about how possibly they will not be able to enter the museum can stop them from queuing. This is the last week of this over two months exhibition, and is also the peak of the general waiting hour of the queue.

While waiting, people talk and make jokes about Banksy’s secrecy and the phenomenon of this exhibition. They speak about seeing those famous graffiti in the street of Bristol, and, at the same time, also busy take pictures of some fresh paints outside of the museum.

Free Admission is probably one reason for having such a huge visitor number of this show (over 300,000 marks, which is the annual number of the museum). Whether the free enter policy is decided by Banksy or the museum, this strategy indeed keeps Banksy’s idea of his street art. However, I wonder how he thinks about that visitors have to wait over three hours to see the exhibition due to the limited space in the museum. Would that be somehow contradicted to his concept of art?

Looking at people in the queue and reading the news about the number of the visitors, also about the amount of the income of the museum shop and how this exhibition ‘boost to Bristol’s economy,’ I realise that the strategy of this exhibition has succeeded even before entering the real show. This exhibition takes place at Bristol Museum. From one aspect, this can be seen as Banksy responding to his background; from the other aspect, this is like sending his regards to this city, which has abundant graffiti. However, visitors come and queue to see what and how Banksy’s art ‘in’ a museum, just like other ‘big’ museum feature exhibitions. They want to know what and how he ‘deals with’ this ‘City museum and Art Gallery.’ Isn’t it exactly Banksy’s ironic way of art practice? People come and almost crazily spend time waiting to see his works in a museum but are not really that attracted by the profuse street art in city streets. The City Museum and Art Gallery has never had such great visiting numbers apart from this collaboration with a street artist. This time, because of the massive queue, barriers are not only walls of the institution, but are also built outside the wall, between people and people. Banksy probably just stays in the ice cream van, which is amongst the queue, watching and mocking at this passionate queuing show.

No matter falling into Banksy’s trap or not, the reality is, once stepping in the queue, you wouldn’t give up. After all, if this is really the one reason visiting Bristol, you will not want to miss the opportunity to participate or accomplish Banksy’s act, will you?

Time: June 13th – August 31st 2009

Venue: Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Queen’s Road, Bristol, BS8 1RL



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: