Manhattan. Why stencil over Banksy, and why a giant ugly bug? Artist, Eric Küns stenciled over You Complete Me, Banksy’s most famous piece from his October, month-long-residency in NY. Many were surprised at the audacity of someone painting over a world-famous artist at the peak of his recognition, but Küns argues it’s no big deal because Banksy can recreate it in ten minutes.
Küns beef isn’t with Banksy, who he says is OK, but with the art establishment that makes art into fetishes, and creates the false impression that the most expensive art is the best or most important, thus undermining the intrinsic worth of art.
“In the eyes of the art world, some asshole painted a worthless piece of shit, ugly bug over a masterpiece by an art star valued in the hundreds of thousands,” says Küns, “but in reality, a guy painted a cool-ass, giant fly over a mediocre stencil.” The bug looks like a big X, a vengeful and grinning American Indian with two feathers, and an exhibitionist opening his coat. “It’s a bug, and what do you do with a big ugly bug, you squash it. But this one is saying NO!”
Küns’ Existentialist Fly is aptly named, because it reminds us of the existence of the teeming multitude of identities doomed to be squashed by the corporate state, save for a few artists the elite pick out of the rabble to reward as their pets.
Küns got the idea to paint over Banksy while strolling through Central Park. He saw a stall selling “Spray Art” stencils for $60, which he assumed were fake Banksy’s. Later he found out it was a stunt, those were original Banksy’s worth tens of thousands a pop, and only 8 were sold. “This proved to me that to most people who don’t know who Banksy is, the art is junk,” said Küns, “and anyone who knew him assumed they were fakes.”
I walked over to 24th street & 6th avenue to see how real people reacted to the giant fly on top of Banksy’s dog and hydrant. Those who came to see Banksy’s piece were outraged, but those who were just walking by were fascinated by the Existentialist Fly.
~ Vance Salmago