Banksy’s works on show in Madrid without his approval

The buyer of a work by street artist Banksy that was partially destroyed moments after it sold has gone through with the purchase at Sotheby's auction house. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2018

Banksy’s works on show in Madrid without his approval

  • The show’s curator Alexander Nachkebiya describes Banksy as “a phenomenon and one of the most brilliant and important artist of our epoch.”

Madrid: Banksy has been Banksied.
The guerilla artist who puts up his work in public spaces without asking authorization is the subject of a new show in Madrid featuring his works — without his authorization.
“Genius or Vandal?” opened Thursday at the Ifema center in the Spanish capital and will run until March 10.
It has already pulled in half a million visitors at its previous venues Moscow and Saint Petersburg, according to a statement from the organizers.
The show’s curator Alexander Nachkebiya, who assembled the works from private collectors, describes Banksy as “a phenomenon and one of the most brilliant and important artist of our epoch.”
The street artist himself remains something of an enigma. All he has revealed about himself is that he is British and that his home town is Bristol in southeast England.
But the dark wit of his art and a certain talent for self-promotion has helped him build up an international reputation, to the point that his works have fetched more than a million pounds.
In August, Banksy used his Instagram account — 5.1 million followers — to make his position clear on the original Moscow show.
He posted an exchange of messages between him and a follower who tipped him off to the unauthorized exhibition.
Told they were charging a £20 ($25, €22) entrance free, Bansky replied: “I wish I could find it funny. What’s the opposite of LOL?“
But at the suggestion that he put out a statement denouncing the fact that it was made to look like an official show, he replied: .”..not sure I’m the best person to complain about people putting up pictures without getting permission.”
Nevertheless, his website does carry a message warning visitors about this and other shows. “They’ve been organized entirely without the artist’s knowledge or involvement. Please treat them accordingly.”
In the meantime, his subversive style continues to attract admirers.
His most recent stunt was at the October auction of one of his works, “Girl with Balloon,” at Sotheby’s in London.
Moments after it sold for £1,042,000 — a joint record for the maverick artist — it unexpectedly passed through a shredder hidden in the frame.
Only partially destroyed, the buyer went through with the purchase and some art experts said it was probably now worth more than it had been before the stunt.


You’ve got mail: Writer of mystery letters in Jeddah revealed

Updated 02 April 2020

You’ve got mail: Writer of mystery letters in Jeddah revealed

  • She leaves notes all over Jeddah to be picked up by strangers

JEDDAH: Ever wondered what it is like to find an uplifting letter from a stranger? If you are in Jeddah, then you are in luck as you might pass by and pick up a letter in a public area titled: “If you find me, I’m yours.”

These random acts of kindness were devised by an initiative called Garba’at Rasayl, Hejazi slang for “a mess of letters.” The group was created by 23-year-old Saudi freelance graphic designer Hadeel Felemban.

The simple white envelopes are covered in stickers and magazine cutouts. Felemban said letter-writing helps her express her thoughts and feelings while sharing it with the world, one letter at a time.

“Mess happens every time I write paper letters, a mess of words and feelings, a mess of scraps and colors used to decorate the envelope,” she told Arab News.

The act of writing letters is special to her as it brings a sense of connection to her father — who worked at the Saudi Post Office more than 20 years ago — and revives the exchange of letters in a world filled with technology. The initiative holds monthly meetings in different cities, where attendees gather to write letters to strangers.

“My father passed away when I was two, and the only way I knew him was through the stories my mother and his brothers share about him. I would write to him on my phone’s notepad sometimes, but I wanted something other than our names to connect us.”

The discovery of her late father’s stamp collection from different periods in her home two years ago prompted her to start the initiative.

“It was like finding a treasure. And ever since then, I’ve been looking for ways to reuse them and revive paper mail. I realized that in a period different than his, I became a mail carrier just like him.”

Felemban shared her interest in sending traditional mail on Instagram. She was able to send letters to some who responded, but she did not receive any in return.

“The waiting was suffocating, I felt devastated and I blame that we are not used to the mailing system and its hardship,” she said.

One night, she decided to write a letter and leave the envelopes in public places.

“Writing a letter to a stranger is probably the best solution to killing the unknown wait from the other party.”

She decorated the envelope of the message, and left it in a cafe in Jeddah without any contact information. “Then I found myself monitoring the cafe’s account on social media, and was disappointed yet again. I didn’t know what had happened to the letter, was it thrown away, picked up or neglected?”

In a family gathering in early October, Felemban placed her stationery supplies and envelopes on the dining table, ready to write a new letter. Her cousins and mother were curious and joined her.

“I was so happy to include them. I complained to them about the waiting and not knowing if the letter was abandoned.”

Her family members suggested creating a special tag for the letters so that strangers who received the letters could reach out to her.

“I created the Arabic hashtag for ‘mess of letters’ and created a post for my friends in Riyadh — where I was at the time — and asked them if they wanted to gather to write letters together. I received a lot of positive responses and then prepared for the event in one of the cafes in the city.”

She hosted the first gathering on Oct. 25 and was happy to see how the simple gesture of uplifting messages had an impact on her community.

“During exam week back when I was studying, it was such a mentally exhausting time, and I used to write encouraging words and quotes for myself and the visitors of the cafe I usually go to. I noticed they had a great impact on emotional well-being. I held on to that idea by writing letters to strangers in public places.”

This simple act of kindness from one stranger to another can go a long way toward making a difference in someone’s life.