Banksy invites himself to Venice Biennale to show off his latest masterpiece ‘Venice in Oil’, 2019

There were widespread speculations last week that Banksy, the enigmatic graffiti artist, appeared in Venice for the Venice Biennale 2019. A mural with a Banksyesque style and a stencilled rat was spotted on the streets of Venice, adding fuel to the rumours. However, a short video was posted today on Banksy’s Instagram account, showing him setting up a stall at the Venice Biennale. In the video, Banksy refers to the event as “the largest and most prestigious art event in the world” while questioning why he has never been invited.
“Setting out my stall at the Venice Biennale. Despite being the largest and most prestigious art event in the world, for some reason I’ve never been invited.” Banksy
The initial shots in the video showcase the picturesque city of Venice, featuring traditional gondolas and the bustling St. Mark’s Square – an iconic landmark. As the video progresses, we witness the Banksy stall for the Venice Biennale taking shape, and the art display quickly grabs the attention of the passersby. The art composition features a large cruise ship sailing through the city’s Grand Canal, surrounded by iconic landmarks such as the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Campanile. The painting depicts a striking visual of the cruise ship dominating the view of the romantic city as the authentic traditional gondola rides halt while the ship passes by. The artwork is set in the past and creates a sharp contrast with the modern cruise ship, highlighting the impact of tourism on the city’s cultural heritage. The video shows the Banksy stall at the Venice Biennale, with the artwork divided into nine oil paintings, each framed in ornate gold frames of varying sizes. The rich and intricate frames add to the visual grandeur of the artwork, providing a stark contrast to the modern and provocative message conveyed by the artwork. In addition, an umbrella provides shade to the artwork, with the words “FIFA 2014 World Cup Brazil” inscribed on it. This reference to oil, FIFA, and sponsorships adds another meaning to the piece, highlighting the interplay between art, politics, and commerce. As the video progresses, we see the Banksy stall taking shape amidst the hustle and bustle of the Venice Biennale. The art display quickly captures the attention of passersby, who stop to admire the creative brilliance of the piece. If one looks closely in the direction where the friendly cat is staring, one will notice a small plaque on a cross that reads ‘Venice in Oil.’ This cleverly references the oil paintings and the massive cruise ships that dock in the city’s canals. Through this display, Banksy aims to shine a light on the plight of the city’s inhabitants against the overwhelming presence of these polluting vessels. However, the joy of the moment is short-lived as the local police arrive and ask for authorisation. But in true Banksy style, the stall is not authorised, and its removal is imminent. In the video, we witness an unidentified man forcefully pushing Banksy’s ‘Venice in Oil’ art pieces away from the Venice Biennale exhibition. The man’s actions are accompanied by the loud and distinctive sound of a massive cruise ship horn echoing in the distance. The juxtaposition of the man’s efforts and the looming presence of the cruise ship highlights the locals’ struggle against the environmental and cultural impact of tourism in Venice. In the video, the background music is the timeless classic, “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” by Doris Day. The song’s soothing melody and lyrics contrast the chaotic and thought-provoking visuals of the video. The song, originally written for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 film, “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” has become a cultural mainstay, evoking a sense of nostalgia and hope for the future. Adding the song to the video adds an emotional depth to the already impactful visuals.
Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be The future’s not ours, to see Que Sera, Sera What will be, will be…
You can access the complete video by following Banksy’s Instagram account below.
The exhibit showcased by Banksy was a clear commentary on the environmental crisis in Venice, a city that has been grappling with surging sea levels and an overwhelming influx of tourists. According to a report by UNESCO, the city’s iconic old buildings and landscapes are at risk due to climate change-induced sea level rise, extreme weather, over-tourism, and construction. The artwork highlighted the struggles of the city’s residents against the massive cruise ships that dock in its canals. Despite the briefness of its existence, Banksy’s exhibit managed to make a powerful statement about the environmental issues facing Venice and the rest of the world while also highlighting the challenges that street artists face in gaining recognition in the traditional art world. Images captured via Banksy Instagram



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