Culture News

European Panel Officially Rules that We Are All Banksy Now

Now that Banksy's "Flower Thrower" trademark has been revoked, anyone can profit off his work.

This week anonymous street artist Banksy officially lost the European trademark to his "Flower Thrower" mural.

The guerrilla graffiti artist had engaged in a prolonged legal battle with the small greeting card company Full Colour Black—which was selling products featuring the image of a Palestinian man throwing a bouquet of flowers. But now a panel at the European Union Intellectual Property Office has announced their decision to revoke the artist's trademark on the grounds that he could not definitively prove himself to be the mural's creator.

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You Can't Change My Mind: Banksy Is Lame

His popularity undermines the supposed anti-establishment message of his art.

Update 7/15/2020: Banksy's latest piece promoting mask use and COVID-19 awareness defied the pattern of his recent work to be his best creation in years.

Entitled "If You Don't Mask, You Don't Get", the scene of stenciled rats using masks as parachutes and spraying sneezes around a train car in the London underground was executed by the acclaimed artist and an accomplice dressed as cleaners and disguising their paint as cleaning fluid.

Banksy sprays coronavirus-inspired artwork on to London tube

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Jameela Jamil Comes Out as Banksy

Jameela Jamil has received unnecessary bullying for being open about her struggles on social media, so now she wants everyone to know the truth.

Finally, we know the truth.

The famed artist Banksy, who has remained anonymous for decades, is actually the actress Jameela Jamil.

For anyone who's confused: This is a joke Jamil made because she has been the subject of a great deal of conspiracy theories and online vitriol lately. She was accused of having Munchausen's, which is an illness that causes people to believe they're sick with disorders that they don't have. But Jamil clarified that she actually suffers from Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a disorder that affects connective tissues in the body.

"Being gaslit over your health for entertainment is a very specific pain and trauma that a lot of people with Ehlers Danlos/invisible disability have to face every day from people who don't understand our vastly under-researched condition. And to what end? Who wins?" she wrote. "If I was an oil tycoon destroying the planet, or a serial sex offender I would maybe understand this vitriol and effort to target and harass me. But I'm just a mental health/eating disorder advocate actually taking the time to change public policy and legislation to protect kids."

The Good Place star has become noteworthy on the Internet for her dedication to anti-diet-culture activism. She's also spoken about mental illness and her chronic health issues, but every time she speaks out, Internet users seem to take pleasure in attacking her.

Her boyfriend James Blake came to her defense today, speaking out about how he has personally witnessed his girlfriend's illnesses, which some Twitter users were questioning.


Is the "Mythmaker" Behind Pizza Rat Putting Cowboy Hats on Pigeons in Las Vegas?

The viral artist has made a name for herself with strange animal stunts, but does this latest one fit her MO?


In what world do pigeons wear cowboy hats?

Is it a world more beautiful than ours? A world where despised and filthy pests that inhabit our cities are recognized as–instead of scruffy outlaws—handsome little loners who puff out their chests and play by their own rules? All it took for the world to fall in love with a rat was to see it struggling to drag a slice of pizza down some stairs. So if a pigeon is a rat with wings, what then does a Pizza Rat with wings look like? A Cowboy Pigeon?

If Zardulu is behind the latest viral animal story out of Las Vegas, these are the kinds of questions over-serious art critics may soon be asking. As for Zardulu herself, she is a mysterious figure. She projects a sort of voodoo witch persona, but a more accurate description would place her somewhere between Banksy and one of those guys with a pet snake who charges tourists for pictures.

Pigeons Wearing Tiny Cowboy Hats Spotted in Las Vegas

For a start, no one knows her face or her real name. When she allows herself to be photographed, she is always in an elaborate, wizardly costume, with her face covered by an unsettling mask or a macabre headdress. It remains unclear whether she's actually responsible for all the events she's claimed as her work, and what other work she's done that has gone unnoticed. We don't even know if she is truly a single person, or some kind of artist collective. And is "artist" even the right term?

Some have called her a performance artist, but what is her performance? In one sense you could point to training a rat to drag a slice of pizza down a staircase as a sort of performance, but that is only one aspect of her art. As an act on its own, that would hardly rank as a reject on America's Got Talent. Is she, as her Twitter bio claims, a "Sorcerer. Soothsayer. Painter. Sculptor. Writer. Disinformation Artist." Or is the better title for Zardulu the one she's chosen as her epithet: the Mythmaker. Because her real art was in making that rat go viral—making us pawns in spreading her work, and making us believe in 2015's Pizza Rat.

pizza rat Youtube

It had to be presented as a natural phenomenon observed and captured by happenstance. She couldn't take credit for it until after culture had already reacted. As a result, most people who've heard of Pizza Rat have no idea there was a person responsible at all—likewise for her lesser-known viral works, Selfie Rat and Raccoon Riding an Alligator. Perhaps that's why the newest strange animal story to go viral maintains a necessary air of mystery while erasing any doubt that there's a person responsible. Is Zardulu the one putting tiny cowboy hats on pigeons in Las Vegas?

Selfie rat snaps a photo

If so, it's certainly an effectively viral moment. The pigeons look legitimately adorable in those hats, in a way that Pizza Rat could never hope to. On the other hand, if Zardulu is responsible, this might join the ranks of her unclaimed works, because there are both legal and ethical concerns. Does this qualify as animal cruelty? It's not clear how many pigeons have been cowboyed or what means were used to secure the hats to their heads. If glue was used, it could damage their skin or feathers, and regardless of how they're attached, as long as the pigeons are wearing tiny cowboy hats, their flight is likely impeded, and they may draw extra attention from predators.

Animal rescue workers from a pro-pigeon organization called Lofty Hopes are struggling to catch these pigeons in order to relieve the pigeons of their headwear. But if this is the work of Zardulu—and she decides to claim it—I suspect we'll find out that these are domesticated pigeons and that the hats will be safely and easily removed.

zardulu Sky News

Zardulu, we await your next proclamation.


Banksy's Shredded Painting: Publicity Stunt or Subversive Act?

After selling for $1.4 million, Girl with a Red Balloon self destructed.

Even Banksy is sick of Banksy.

Everyone's favorite laptop decal designer has been up to more mischief, this time destroying his own painting at a London auction on Friday. In a seemingly coordinated stunt with Sotheby's, one of Banksy's trademark paintings self-destructed after being auctioned off for $1.4 million. The anonymous artist posted a video of the painting passing through a shredder built into the frame. Sotheby's denied having any prior knowledge of the incident.

One thing's for sure, in a world where the definition of art is becoming looser and looser, that torn Pulp Fiction poster you never bothered to take off your wall? A commentary. That pizza sauce stain you can't get off your white sofa? Expressionism.

"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge," Banksy captioned a second Instagram post about the incident, quoting Picasso.

The New York Times reports that it seems unlikely that no one found the shredder, supposedly built into the frame twelve years ago, before the auction. Indeed, "Detailed condition reports are routinely requested by the would-be buyers of high-value artworks. Unusually, this relatively small Banksy had been hung on a wall, rather than placed by porters on a podium for the moment of sale. And the artwork was also the last lot in the auction."

So if Sotheby's was in on the stunt, is it still the moment of anti-establishment rebellion we all want it to be?

Sotheby's senior director Alex Branczik said in a statement that is difficult not to picture him practicing in the mirror the night before, "It appears we just got Banksy-ed."

This is not the first "subversive" act of Banksy's to make headlines. In 2005, the artist hung one of his "modified canvases," showing a woman wearing a gas mask, for two hours in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Similar to the Sotheby's incident, the 2005 stunt—and subsequent similar stunts at other museums—seemed unlikely to have reached fruition without collaboration by the very establishment Banksy claimed to be condemning. In 2005, Banksy told NPR that he'd read biographies of Harry Houdini to learn how to sneak into the museums with his artworks, some of which were large and heavy.


The Independent reported Saturday that the work has "doubled in value" since its partial destruction. Whatever Banksy was trying to prove with the stunt, consumers ate it up.

But still, there's something about it all that seems a little, well, Disney. If Banksy's intention were to criticize the commodification of his art — originally intended to be street art belonging to no one — doesn't the uptick in the piece's value only cement Banksy as a consumable, commercial artist?

Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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wanksy pothole penis artist

Move over Banksy, there’s a hot new graffiti artist out there—and he’s using his skills to help make roads safer.

Meet Wanksy, a masked crusader who’s highlighting the state of Britain’s roads by painting giant penises around the potholes that plague the nation’s motorists and cyclists.

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Ramsbottom penises wanksy pothole penis artist

The professional artist—who also works in construction—first surfaced last year, leaving his mark on the potholes of Bury and Ramsbottom—near his hometown of Manchester

Wanksy uses a chalk based marker, which fades away within a two week period—but it’s often removed quicker, as horrified officials rush to cover-up the giant penises.

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48-hour fill-in wanksy pothole penis artist

Wanksy’s M.O. has proven pretty effective, with many of the potholes being filled within 48 hours of the penises springing up.

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The road artist explains the motivation behind his unusual choice of canvas and subject matter, on his website:

Potholes are dangerous. Not only do they wreck vehicles, cause accidents they also injure cyclists and are a danger to pedestrians.

I highlight dangerous potholes by turning them into temporary works of art, making them more visible and prompting the council to repair them.

The council are not too happy, but all my work is created using non-permanent, chalk based line marker, the same type the council use when doing repairs.

The problem is that despite each and every vehicle owner in the land paying road tax, fuel tax and council tax, that money does not seem to be being spent on our roads, or at least not effectively.

I understand the council are stretched and may not have time to highlight big potholes with yellow paint, 
but luckily, I do :-)

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Positive reaction wanksy pothole penis artist

He goes on to explain how his work generally provokes a positive reaction from the public, and explains how his road art is helping people.

Do I think my art is offensive? No. I am a qualified artist, the naked body and its anatomy are commonplace in art.

The drawings themselves are cartoons, not photographs. Art should provoke a reaction and these pieces do that, generally a positive one.

Potholes are very hard to see you tend to forget about them until it’s too late.

But draw a big yellow willy round it, you can’t help but notice them and hopefully avoid it too, saving the vehicle from damage or the rider from injury.

Usually the council will either notice it, or it actually gets reported and then gets repaired. 
Happy days.

If there were no potholes I wouldn’t draw on anything...
The road is my canvas.

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Wanksy explained his motivation further, in an interview with the Manchester Evening News—vowing to take his artistic crusade further afield as needs must.

The roads of Manchester are in an appalling state, especially around Bury. I have cyclist friends who have been hospitalized.

They damage vehicles. Sometimes it’s hard to know which pothole caused the damage because there are so many.

When I’ve finished in Ramsbottom, I’ll move on to the rest of Manchester.

I wanted to attract attention to the pothole and make it memorable. Nothing seemed to do this better than a giant comedy phallus.

It’s also speedy, I don’t want to be in the road for a long time. It seems to have become my signature.

I just want to make people smile and draw attention to the problem. It seems to be working, judging from the Facebook fan page.

Not surprisingly however, when it comes to local council members, the smiles are few and far between.

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A spokesperson for Bury council bitched to the Daily Telegraph about the “stupid” and “incredibly insulting”  road artist, during an interview last April.

The actions of this individual are not only stupid but incredibly insulting to local residents.

Has this person, for just one second, considered how families with young children must feel when they are confronted with these obscene symbols as they walk to school?

Not only is this vandalism, but it’s also counter-productive.

Every penny that we have to spend cleaning off this graffiti is a penny less that we have to spend on actually repairing the potholes.

We urge the perpetrator to stop defacing the roads immediately, and ask anyone who sees this sort of criminal damage being carried out to report it to the police and the council.

Yeah, whatever Councillor Buzzkill—how about you guys just do your job in the first fucking place, and repair the roads BEFORE they have to be adorned with giant penises?

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Meanwhile, after taking a brief penis painting sojourn, Wanksy is back in action once again—in pretty spectacular fashion.

Helping rid the road of pothole dangers one glorious graffiti cock at a time.

Check out Wanksy’s Facebook page here and go to his website to learn more about the artist's mission and to see his work

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