Controversial Exhibit Banksyland Secret Location Revealed, it Debuts in Cincinnati for One Weekend Only

Despite Banksyland’s problematic reputation of touring the world without permission from the artist, it’s racking up sold out dates across the U.S.

click to enlarge A photo of Banksy's 'Girl with Balloon.' - Photo: Maxim Kotov via Unsplash
Photo: Maxim Kotov via Unsplash
A photo of Banksy's 'Girl with Balloon.'

A controversial exhibit showcasing one of the world’s most recognizable street artist's work is coming to Cincinnati this weekend – but it’s not authorized by the artist.

Banksyland promotes an immersive and exclusive experience exhibiting works by Banksy, who is famously elusive and independent. The show’s previously secret location was revealed as Sample Space on The Banks and runs from May 5-7.

Despite Banksyland’s problematic reputation of touring the world without permission from the artist, it’s racking up sold out dates across the U.S. The Cincinnati debut of the exhibit gives Banksy fans and viewers more questions to grapple with aside from the already contentious and politically-charged themes the work stands for.

If the artist doesn’t endorse or profit from it, is it ethical to visit the gallery?

Banksy’s website loudly condemns the use of the artist's work by anyone who isn’t Banksy or its only official affiliated organization called Pest Control. “Banksy is not on Facebook, Twitter or represented by any other gallery or institution,” Banksy’s website reads.

A Q&A list on Pest Control’s website says, “Only Pest Control Office have permission to use or license my artwork. If someone else has granted you permission, you don’t have permission.”

According to Banksyland’s website, Banksy’s representatives declined to accept fees or royalties from the exhibit, but Banksy was initially compensated for some of the work shown, as it was originally purchased directly from the artists’ representative.

One Thousand Ways Inc., the organization responsible for Banksyland, is not shy about the “unauthorized” status of the exhibit. The website's tagline reads, “Unauthorized, uncensored, unmasked.”

It’s easy to imagine the uncensored aspect, as some of Banksy’s most identifiable creations are graffitied or painted images that denounce topics of war, capitalism and consumer culture. But the claim to unmasking anything is questionable, as Banksy’s identity has remained anonymous since gaining significant fame in the early 2000s.

A press release by Banksyland curators states, “This multimedia art experience will contain multiple authenticated works and replica installations examining the mystique and cultural impact of Banksy.”

The press release says the exhibit will feature signed and authenticated editions from Banksy’s studio; original paintings from Banksy’s Dismaland, Gross Domestic Product and Walled Off Hotel exhibitions; salvaged street works and pieces from private collections.

The salvaged street works are presented on steel and concrete and include the iconic “Rat” graffitis. Also included in Banksyland are prominent Banksy creations like “Love is in the Air,” “Smiling Copper,” “Happy Choppers” and the notable, "Girl with Balloon.”

While Banksy is not involved or associated with Banksyland, it continues to offer a substantial collection of the artist’s work that provides a contemplative viewing experience not readily available anywhere else.

Banksyland runs for one weekend: May 5-7 at Sample Space on The Banks, 140 Marian Spencer Way. Exhibition hours are 12-8 p.m. For more information visit

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