But even the haters can’t hate the shredding. The liberal elite might be elite but they can still take a joke. Can’t they/we? One might protest that the painting-shredding-itself is just an ironic posture, a capital M message smacking you round the face. And one could imagine Banksy chuckling to himself while he lies making angels in a gigantic bed of cash. But in saying so, you’d be no different than the bespectacled art-world professional at the auction, wiping his brow in apparent panic. And no-one wants to be that guy. ‘But that’s- that’s a million. That’s ONE MILLION POUNDS BEING… GULP…. SHREDDED.’ Yes, but it’s also just a canvas with some paint on it. As much as one can harbour opinions about how Banksy is cheapening Real Art by pedalling his anti-establishment Greeting Cards to a mass audience of ever-increasing passivity, you don’t want to be caught with manicured hand on forehead, as if to check your brain hasn’t just exploded. To denounce the shredding stunt is to align yourself with a clique that reeks of untold riches and takes itself too seriously. In short, everyone needs to chill out. Banksy’s prank has momentarily punctured the bubble, allowing us to see how absurd this all is, I mean really.
What’s absurd is people selling chunks of walls at auction. Girl with a Balloon began its life as stencil graffiti on the South Bank, among other locations. There was one tagged on a print shop in Shoreditch, before The Sincura Group interfered. To remove the work required the following: a professional art restorer, previously charged with resurrecting Constables and Picassos; microfilm and a sheet of Perspex; scaffolding and hoarding; a chainsaw with a special diamond blade imported from the United States; acrows to support the building; machines to catch the dust from the cutting; twenty-four hour surveillance; masked builders; seven men to lift the chunks of wall; a lorry to take the wall to a secret, temperature-controlled location in the countryside, to be worked on by six restorers. This process took over a month and cost just short of £70,000. I mean, normally, graffiti just gets painted over. Graffiti is, by its very nature, for everyone and short-lived. The Sincura Group could be accused of stealing. In fact, they accused themselves, titling the collection of seven Banksy works going up for auction, ‘Stealing Banksy?’ I bet they thought that was clever.