A new audio series has unearthed an old interview with someone claiming to be Banksy, giving a voice to a person whose identity otherwise remains a mystery.
The three-minute interview was re-shared by the Banksy Story, a new 10-part podcast on the artist that launched today on the BBC. It originally aired on NPR’s All Things Considered radio show in March of 2005, shortly after the artist surreptitiously installed his work in four of New York’s biggest museums, namely the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of Natural History.
“Is this Banksy’s actual voice?” wondered the podcast’s host, James Peak, as he set the stage before the archival recording begins. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s a mate of his. Maybe it’s a deliberate misdirection. Maybe it is him.”
“If it is him, it’s the first time we’ve heard him.”
NPR host Michele Norris began with a similar question in her 2005 interview. “We assume you are who you say you are, but how can we be sure?” she said.
“Oh, you have no guarantee of that at all,” the interviewee responded nonchalantly in a thick British accent.
From secretive street artist to international icon – how did Banksy become the most famous, and infamous, artist in the world?
— BBC Sounds (@BBCSounds) July 17, 2023
Most of the artist’s subsequent answers in the interview are similarly wry and pithy. When Norris asked if he sees himself as “an artist, a bandit, [or] a prankster,” he just said: “Painter and decorator.” When asked how he hung his work in the four museums without anyone noticing, he cited another master of deception, Harry Houdini: “He’s got some good tips for artists coming up, I would say.”
Norris followed up with the same question, at which point the supposed Banksy offered a glimpse into how he pulled off the stunt.
“I think it’s kind of a testament to the frame of mind most people are in when they’re in a museum,” he said. “Most people let the world go past them. They don’t pay a lot of attention to most things, not even, apparently, to people with big beards wielding around pieces of art and gluing them up.”
“I thought some of them were quite good. That’s why I thought, you know, put them in a gallery. Otherwise, they would just sit at home and no one would see them, right?” the artist continued, before offering up what sounded like a genuine piece of advice: “If you wait for people to latch onto what you’re doing, you’ll be waiting forever. You might as well cut out the middle man and go stick it in yourself.”
“But what you’re doing is illegal,” Norris countered.
“That’s what makes it good fun,” the man said.
In his audio series, Peak, who identifies not as a journalist but as a “Banksy superfan,” traces the artist’s career from its origins to today. At the heart of the podcast is a series of interviews with a gallerist named Steph Warren, who claims to have worked closely with Banksy in the early 2000s.
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