Is Banksy, the world’s most famous street artist actually a woman?
There’s no definite answer to the question above, but if I were to guess I would say “no”… only because I think that “Banksy” is a team of women. Some reasons why I think the well know street artist is actually a team of women:
1. Subject Matter
Women are underrepresented in the vast majority of street art (and media in general). Unlike her peers, Banksy often features women in roles of power in her art. Even when the piece is not specifically about women, Banksy often chooses to make the shadows and silhouettes in his work women instead of men. I think this is significant because we tend to draw what we know. For example, think back to when you were very young and you were asked to draw a person- most children naturally draw people as the same ethnicity as themselves. The same thinking can be applied to gender. Yes, Banksy could be a single, male feminist, but I think its more likely that a team of women is actively trying to portray women in a new and interesting way to help combat under-representation and female stereotypes.
Banksy has been working as an artist for about 20 years. In those 20 years, no one has been able to reveal her identity–and its not like people haven’t been trying. I think the number one reason no one has caught Banksy in the act is because they’re looking for the wrong thing. When Banksy appeared in his film Exit Through the Gift Shop, he appeared to be hyper-masculine.
His silhouette was broad and fit and he looked to be well over 6 feet tall. Yes, Banksy could be the stereotypical “ideal” male, but what if he isn’t? Police, fans, and spectators alike have been on the hunt for Banksy for years, but they’ve never definitively identified him. I believe its because they aren’t looking for the right thing. They’re looking for someone who matches the person who has appeared in films, but its pretty easy to hire an actor or get a male friend to be Banksy for performances.
Banksy has a vested interest in keeping her identity a secret which makes her an unreliable narrator. Why would an artist that has built a career off of illegal artwork reveal so much of her identity? My answer- she wouldn’t. I think Banksy is smarter than that and is using gender as a misdirection tool to help her further conceal her identity.
3. Graffiti History
Modern graffiti originates from the idea of “tagging”–which is essentially marking your territory. The need to dominate a space is a distinctly male trait that still translates with known male street artists today. Most male artists sign their work or actively promote their name and their identity. On the other hand, Banksy doesn’t really play into this paradigm. Very little of his work is signed or even signifies that it is a true Banksy.
4. Scope of Projects
Banksy’s work ranges from stenciled spray painted images, to full blow exhibitions. The planning and foresight it takes to pull off some of Bansky’s pieces are what makes me think that there is not a single woman working alone, rather a team of women working together.
What do you think? Do you think Banksy is a man or a woman? An individual or a team?