The Awl recently featured an interview with the rising star of satirical street art, Hanksy. While perhaps not as explicitly politically minded as the more well-known street artist - Hanksy claims to simply have fun with his love of Tom Hanks - the parodical Banksy imitator does make an intriguing statement on the commercialized state of street art. 

[The Awl]: If one was trying to explain what Banksy does to someone who knows nothing about street art, one might say something about how he can take an image and put it out of context to make a point—a girl floating freely… on the wall in the West Bank. A masked prostester hurling…. a bouquet of flowers. Are you out-Banksying Banksy?

Hanksy: Like gently taking the piss out of his work?

[The Awl]: A bit, yeah.

Hanksy: I guess I am subverting the subversive. It’s a bit of everything really. Celebrating his work while also softly pointing out how mainstream and accepted street art has become to the general public. But not everything in life is meant to be taken so seriously.

As Banksy has become a celebrity (albeit faceless) unto himself, Hanksy playfully turns this commercialization on its head. And while the satirist is certainly a fan of Banksy, he plans to steer clear of the loaded commentary the street artist has become synonymous for.

Still, is this ever entirely possible? Art ultimately takes on whatever meaning each member of its audience personally holds it to, and graffiti art - public by its very nature - seems incapable of meaninglessness, calling out from the urban walls of one’s every day experience. It exists upon the structures of what came before it; it becomes as accessible (and entertaining) as the very pop culture it often satirizes, a novelty of the medium which may, occasionally, take away from the very message it seeks to convey. 

Ultimately, Hanksy’s pop Banksy spin-offs provide an interesting commentary on Banksy’s inevitable celebrity. It reminds me of the aftermath of Banksy’s (brilliant) Simpsons intro, as NPR’s Linda Holmes lamented, “Has this bit led to more discussion of outsourcing and sweatshops, or more discussion of ‘The Simpsons and Banksy?”

- Maggie