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What's wrong with the new Banksy exhibition in Milan

The misunderstanding about Banksy's street art and the sins of MUDEC

What's wrong with the new Banksy exhibition in Milan The misunderstanding about Banksy's street art and the sins of MUDEC

The MUDEC must have a taste for the street art. It's normal for a Museum of cultures be interested in such a primitive art form like graffitis are. This time MUDEC made a more contemporary choice compared to the exhibition dedicated to Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and, from 21th of November to 14 of April, Milano hosts  "The Art of BANKSY. A VISUAL PROTEST", dedicated to the artist who becomes most widely used than Monet for cups and towels.

The exhibition didn't have the artist's consensus and the reason is obvious. He based all his project on the protest against art's establishment and it would be foolish imagine the opposite. The MUDEC maybe have lost the opportunity to make a critic exhibition on ones of the more interesting phenomenon of the contemporary culture, shifting the focus towards an easy profit. An Instagram-friendly mix which perfectly matches with the concept of protest. An Instagram-friendly mix which matches with the concept of protest and it looks better print on a t-shirt than in a London wall, this is why street art is now part of the art market, and its essence is changed.

MUDEC approach is clear by the posters around Milan (ironic, isn't it?).

VISUAL PROTEST, the name is a declaration of intent that exploits Banksy esthetic to make look cool Gaza War or the police repression.

The description of the event on the website is confused and rhetorical, speaks about too many intellectual concepts and obviously Banksy's trademark: the anonymity. Many people argue that the hype of Banksy's anonymity is nowadays the real cause that brings people to know the artist, pushing in the background his artworks. Banksy wasn't the first to use anonymity as a sign of presence -starting to Daft Punk and arriving at Liberato, history is full of faceless artists- but in this case, it seems more a manifestation of his ego, such as Dismaland and the recent self-destruction of a picture in an auction house.

MUDEC asks the visitors what will be the role of Banksy in the History of art, defining him "A myth of our days" and the response is suggested by the trivial story of a faceless hero who shows to the world how horrible is the military and the capitalism. The reality is now quite different and an exhibition about how Banksy is one of the best communicators and how he drove an illegal act as the graffitis are in a mainstream culture maybe that could have been more interesting. The theme of the connection between art and art market is complex and broad, someone claims that putting a graffiti in a museum means watering down its soul, others think that the commercialization of this form of art is the only way to elevate the quality of the artworks. MUDEC could have been deepened this problem, but it preferred to earn the easiest money ever.


I will attend the exhibition and many people will do it. It will be a success for a museum that still is one of the nicer in Milan. In my opinion, MUDEC lost the opportunity to adopt a critic point of view on a clear flaw of the art system. And if the cost is 16 disproportionated euros, we must reflect on the European museum where culture is not a way to become rich but a possibility to educate people.

But don’t worry, there will be a nice bookshop with many tote bags to buy.