Friday, June 14, 2013

Nick Stern: Photographing Banksy

Street artist Banksy has gained immense popularity for his graffiti art work which combines humor and political commentary. His stencils blend in perfectly with their surroundings, sometimes incorporating their surrounding environment. Banky's interesting subjects has inspired many artists to recreate his works in real life, with Nick Stern photographing Banky's recreations almost perfectly in his series, "You Are Not Banksy".

Nick Stern is a professional photojournalist and feature photographer. He has traveled extensively around Europe, Asia and North America, photographing everything from the everyday lives of the British, to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. He is the founder of First News Limited, and devotes a portion of his time to mentoring younger photographers.

Banksy is the most recognized street artist of this generation. Over the last decade, Banksy's graffiti art has captured the attention of popular media due to their humorous yet poignant message. The artist uses stencils to convey political and social messages, often with a twist. The artist's fame shot up quickly about five years ago when his art pieces became popular items in high-end auction houses. His 2010 documentary, "Exit Through The Gift Shop" also help spread his name, all the while maintaining his anonymity.

Stern had always been a big fan of Banksy, and thought of creating a small photo reenactment project of some of Banksy more popular street art. The photographer started out with the Flower Thrower stencil art, and only meant for it as a way to test out some of his new equipment. When he received favorable responses to his work, he decide to continue with other of Banksy's artworks.

The photographer tried to be as detail-oriented as possible, making sure that the subjects, costumes, lighting and poses matched those of Banky's. His photo series was eventually dubbed "You Are Not Banksy", from a graffiti text he spotted in Los Angeles from other street artists emulating Banksy's work. For Stern, this was the perfect embodiment of his photographs as he wouldn't consider his reenactments as surpassing the original.

As with the previous post, these recreations can be seen as a form of appropriation art, as the photographs are clear copies of Banksy's original graffiti works. However, so much work has gone into Stern's own photographs that they've become artworks of their own. In addition, Stern's photographs pay homage to the original street artist rather than simply ripping off his stencil artworks.

It would be interesting to get Banksy's own opinion on Stern's works, but that has proven to be more difficult. The photographer has not received any communication from the artist, whether in the form of praise or otherwise. However, it's probably safe to assume that someone as anti-establishment as Banksy would consider this a tribute rather than an infringement on his works.

This is Nick Stern's photography website, and his project "You Are Not Banksy" can be found here. This is Banksy's own website. For more appropriation art done well, check out this link. To find out the controversy behind appropriation art, read this post.


The Angry Lurker said...

He did well, I do like the Banksy stuff, there's some reproduction art on sale near me.

Styron said...

Yes, he'd probably see this as a tribute ^^ Really good stuff.

Anonymous said...

It's a tour of top grade Banksys, past and present.

Scott Staley said...

I think the plagiarism is in itself complimentary

Tom martin said...


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