Banksy May Have Planted an Art-Piece in the Contemporary Arts Center

Hold your breath: No self-shredding artworks were involved

click to enlarge The alleged Banksy painting (center) at the Contemporary Arts Center, hanging among works from "Mamma Andersson: Memory Banks." - Photo: Provided by Frizk
Photo: Provided by Frizk
The alleged Banksy painting (center) at the Contemporary Arts Center, hanging among works from "Mamma Andersson: Memory Banks."

Worldwide-known art maverick Banksy may have left a mark at the Contemporary Arts Center last month in the form of a half-peeled banana. 

A local artist — who also operates pseudonymously — says that Banksy reached out to them via an Instagram DM to hang the painting, which was crafted in a similar style to the CAC's current Mamma Andersson: Memory Banks exhibit. 

"Honestly, I'd rather have the art museum just hang it up then have them give it back to me," the DM from Banksy read. "If they hung it up in their museum, it would prove my point about perspective correct." 

That "perspective" — as related in an email exchange with local artist Frizk — is that art should be something that can be universally enjoyed. 

"But because of the way the modern art industry is run right now, only a very small percent of people get to choose what art is good and all other art gets rejected, even if it is just as good," Frizk says. "The banana had no meaning at all, but when people came up and brought meaning to the piece, it proved that the modern art industry is a scam."

In a statement, CAC's communication director Joshua Mattie says that the piece was taken down shortly after it was placed in the gallery. 

"The painting was in place for a matter of minutes before it was discovered," Mattie says. "Visitors who claimed to be ‘vlogging’ about their visit to the museum asked the guard on duty for a tour of the exhibition and it was discovered as they returned to the opposite end of the gallery." 

How many visitors actually witnessed the painting is a mystery in itself. Don't visit the CAC expecting to see a Banksy original — the art piece was removed shortly after and is currently hanging out in the lost and found. 

"The CAC has a long history of supporting and exhibiting the work of artists aligned with street art from the auspicious Beautiful Losers exhibition in 2004 to major exhibitions by JR, Swoon and Shepard Fairey. It wouldn’t be surprising if Banksy wanted to participate in this legacy," Mattie says in response to the Banksy claim. "However, since the identity of Banksy has never been officially acknowledged, it would be difficult to confirm if he was actually involved or visited the museum. Since the alleged artist has not yet come to claim their painting, we can’t speak to their identity. The painting contains the initials 'JK'."

Frizk confirms that two University of Cincinnati students helped him by distracting the CAC security guard as he placed the painting on the wall. Why did Banksy use a pawn instead of slinging it up himself? Frizk says they couldn't risk the internationally known provocateur's face getting caught on camera. Banksy's current whereabouts? Unknown. 

Banksy reached out to Frizk on Dec. 2; the painting was placed at the CAC Dec. 5. 

"I don’t really admire that many people but when Banksy DM’d me, I wasn’t expecting it and was surprised and happy at the same time," Frizk says. "Of course I said yes because I think he’s one of the realest artists out there and I wanted to be a part of it." 

See the full DM correspondence below, as provided by Frizk: 

Now, in a symbolic gesture, this article will delete itself in 5...4...3...2...we're kidding. Long live Banksy.