OK. Here’s what we know, as it was presented to us: An “interactive exhibition” of works by the England-based street artist Banksy is coming to Las Vegas in the near future. (An exact opening date hasn’t been set; we’ll add it as soon as we know.) Banksy: Genius or Vandal?, an unofficial exhibition featuring some 70 pieces by the enigmatic artist—including “Rose Trap,” “Holocaust Lipstick” and “Stop Esso”—will take over 12,000 square feet of Immersion Vegas, a new art space at the Fashion Show Mall, and will run through Sunday, April 5, 2020.
More probable facts: Genius or Vandal? will include 3D objects, limited editions, photographs, video installations and “a specially-created multimedia presentation,” all on loan from private collectors. The show reportedly drew more than a million visitors over the course of extended engagements in Russia and Spain, and it’ll probably draw a boatload of visitors here, too. Tickets for the exhibition cost $29 for adults and $15 for children 11 and under, plus applicable fees.
“[Banksy’s] work is a challenge to the system, it is a protest, it is an extremely well-built brand, it is a mystery, it is a violation of the law,” curator Alexander Nachkebiya said in an email statement. “According to our idea, every visitor of the exhibition will be able to decide for themselves: who is Banksy – a genius or a vandal, an artist or a businessman, a provocateur and rebel or a conformist? Our exhibition shows the scope of Banksy’s talent – he is always multidimensional and makes visitors think and decide for themselves.”
That’s all we know about Banksy’s upcoming exhibition. What we still don’t know—and this list is in no way comprehensive—is this: Who is Banksy? (I’m one of those who holds that it’s really a collective of artists run by a woman.) Is this “unofficial” exhibition really an official one, with the “unofficial” status guarding Banksy’s privacy? Did Banksy make up the cheerfully adversarial Mr. Brainwash for the 2010 documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop? Did Sotheby’s London know beforehand that the artist rigged his “Girl With Balloon” to shred itself seconds after it was auctioned for $1.4 million? Will the artist come here for the show? Would we know if he/she/they did? And if so, will there be a turf war with Recycled Propaganda, who’s kinda cornered the local market on street-level agitprop?
In the end, none of that matters. It’s easy to say that “Banksy’s work speaks for itself,” but the fact is that it mostly questions what it has to say about itself, which is one of the things that makes the work so damned fascinating. In any case, it’ll be exciting to get personal with so much of Banksy’s work at once. Aside from a piece hanging at Greene St. Kitchen and an interactive piece that appeared at Life Is Beautiful a few years back, very little of Banksy’s art has made its way to Vegas before now. As far as we know, anyway.
BANKSY: GENIUS OR VANDAL? Through April 5. Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; $30 ($15 for children 11 and under). Immersion Vegas, banksy.vegas.