Flat White

Banksy, Michael Spence and the shredding of 3000 years

11 October 2018

7:39 AM

11 October 2018

7:39 AM

“It appears we just got Banksy-ed.” So said Alex Branczik, the head of contemporary European art at the auction house Sotheby’s recently when the painting, Girl With Balloon—which had just sold for $1,936,000—started to self-shred. The mysterious artist posted the following video of the incident on Instagram with a quote from Picasso, “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”

According to MyArtBroker the print is “now part of art history” and due to the circumstance surrounding its sale is now believed to be worth $3,719,35, or maybe even more. Needless to say, the Australian National Museum might well have a new way of potentially salvaging more than a few of its more questionable investments.

The brilliance of what “Banksy”—no one really knows who he is—has done in planning to shred his own artwork is that it is the perfect symbol of what Western Civilisation is, at present, doing to itself.

For example, what you see below is part of a $400,000 art installation at Sydney University, that prestigious centre of tertiary education which prides itself on Unlearning everything—from medicine, love, truth, and it seems like even of common sense itself.

No, those black splotches are not mould. And nor is the horizontal yellow line a urine stain. According to Sydney University, this is a $200,000 piece of art. When I was told me how much it cost, I couldn’t believe it. So, I personally contacted the Media Department at Sydney University (part of its bloated bureaucracy, not like the Department of Science). Initially, they had no idea what I was referring too. But by the end of the week, I received the following reply, delivered with a straight face:

We are in the process of completing significant pieces of public art associated with the development of the new Life, Earth and Environmental Science Building (LEES1) and the F23 Administration Building, both on Eastern Avenue, Camperdown Campus. Public art is a requirement under each building’s terms of development with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, and also aligns with the requirements of the City of Sydney Council.

While the agreement with the artist is confidential, as a guide the typical budget for a project such as this is $150,000 to $200,000 per development site or building, depending on the size and scale of the project and the reputation of the artist. As the installation is a requirement for both LEES1 and F23, the total cost is approximately $400,000.

Sadly, this is part of a much larger march of the cultural-left through societies key institutions. As Kevin Donnelly has incisively argued in Quadrant last year:

Since the cultural revolution of the late Sixties and Seventies the more conservative liberal view of education has been attacked and undermined by a rainbow alliance of cultural-left movements including: Marxism, Neo-Marxism, deconstructionism, postmodernism, feminism and post-colonial and LGBTQI theories.

Donnelly is absolutely right. Sydney University is emblematic of a much larger “decline and disgrace” that is occurring in our nation intellectually. And our tertiary institutions, in particular, have been taken captive by those who would seek to deconstruct, and in particular ‘shred’, the very foundations of Western civilisation itself. Picasso was right, “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”

Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.

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