Shred the love, after you frame it

Banksy’s audiences and auctioneers are now part of his self-destructing art

Banksy’s audiences and auctioneers are now part of his self-destructing art
Arguably, only an anonymous cult artist could have pulled off what Banksy did: making an artwork self-destruct moments after it is sold at an auction for $1.4 million. Any other artist wilfully destroying a valuable piece of art, even if he or she is its creator, could lead to litigation by the buyer.

But outrageousness is almost expected of this Scarlet Pimpernel of the art world, so his attempted destruction of Girl With a Balloon — it was meant to shred entirely but got stuck halfway — on the premises of Sotheby’s in London will probably be interpreted as participative art, with the astounded audience and lacerated canvas becoming part of a grand, oncein-a-moment artistic installation.

That it has already been renamed Love is in the Bin shows that the spin doctors are at work, though a resale will obviously be difficult. Banksy’s act of hiding a shredder in the frame of his artwork will no doubt forever alter the galleries’ and auction houses’ attitude on this humble but important adjunct to artworks.

More importantly, the broader philosophical point that destruction can also become — or lead to — creation has been proven in a very dramatic way. For proper effect, the new owner should get a copy of Banksy’s video explaining how the shredder was concealed and how the partial shredding was a convenient malfunction.
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