November 29, 2022
Fans of street art can soon check out an interactive installation dedicated to the work of one of the scene most mysterious and well-known figures. .
"Banksy Was Here: The Exhibition" officially opens at Fashion District Philadelphia on Saturday, Dec. 3, running through Tuesday, Jan. 31. The exhibit, which has already toured through 15 cities and is making its Philly debut, features over 80 genuine and certified Banksy works.
Visitors will tour a curated selection of sculptures, multimedia immersive installations, videos and photos provided by private collectors. At the end of the exhibit, guests can partake in a virtual reality experience that takes them on a journey through the artist’s career, created especially for this event.
There is also a gift shop and a free audio guide that can be accessed via visitors' phones. "Banksy Was Here" is presented through exhibition producer Exhibition Hub and live entertainment platform Fever in partnership with Secret Philadelphia.
"Banksy's work allows us to see our everyday world in a different way, and this approach will appeal to everyone who comes to 'Banksy Was Here,' whether they are seeing the artist's work for the first time or the hundredth," John Zaller, Exhibition Hub Executive Producer, said in a release. "In a similar way, the exhibit design provides a different perspective to all who enter: it transports you to a whole other place that is totally unexpected and entirely engaging — similar to Banksy's work."
Banksy is an anonymous street artist and political activist who is thought to have been born in the 1970s in Bristol, England. He came to prominence as a freehand graffiti artist in 1993 and is renowned for his anti-authoritarian art, which merges graffiti with installations and performance work.
The artist is well known for the iconic 2006 "Girl with Balloon" mural, or the incident at an auction in 2018 when a canvas version of the mural seemingly shred itself after selling for $1.4 million. Other attention-grabbing Banksy moments include hanging his own artwork on the walls of major museums in New York City and London in 2005, and his creation of the 2015 apocalyptic theme park Dismaland. He has also painted live pigs and a live elephant during shows. Recently, Banksy unveiled artwork in Ukraine.
While Banksy is known for his installations, "Banksy Was Here" is not one of them. Despite bearing the artist's name and showing his artwork, it is not authorized by him.
"Banksy Was Here" is not the first unauthorized exhibit of its kind, however. In September, another unofficial Banksy exhibit, "Banksyland," travelled through Philadelphia. In fact, a string of unauthorized Banksy-inspired shows have popped up worldwide, prompting Banksy's own team to speak out.
The artist's website warns: "Members of the public should be aware there has been a recent spate of Banksy exhibitions none of which are consensual. They've been organized entirely without the artist's knowledge or involvement. Please treat them accordingly."
If that warning was a bit subtle, Banksy's FAQ page lays things out more bluntly: "Banksy has NOTHING to do with any of the current or recent exhibitions and they are nothing like a genuine Banksy show. They might be crap so please don't come to us for a refund."
The "Banksy Was Here" website itself acknowledges this fact ("Banksy does not authorize any exhibition of his works"), but assures potential visitors that it is showing "original, authenticated and certified works."
Tickets for "Banksy Was Here" start at $22.90 for ages 4 through 12, and $37.90 for ages 13 and older. The visit lasts approximately 60 to 80 minutes. It will be open Monday, Thursday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.