Last night, one of my volleyball teammates, K., and I were discussing street artist Banksy‘s visit to New Orleans, where he painted/stenciled art all over the city. If you click on the link above, the one with the “Gray Ghost” painting over the sunflower is kinda near my house, on Clio across the street from The Big Top. I took a picture of M. (who was the first person to tell me about Banksy) in front of it. If I can get the image off my phone (and M. gives permission), I’ll post it here, alongside the regular image below. If it’s the same image (and I think it is, from the details at the bottom), then the sunflower’s been painted over since then and the image has been covered in plexiglass to protect it.
At least one business owner didn’t know what they had on their building and painted over their Banksy (apparently, in some places, a Banksy can improve your property value, which I dig). But like most street art, there is that element of the ephemeral, of catching it. And some places and people do what they can to embrace and protect street art, so that’s pretty amazing.
K. and I moved on from Banksy to discuss the street art I found while I was in St. Petersburg, Russia two years ago and later, images I found in New Orleans. It’s something of a hobby of mine to photograph whatever I see. Below, some Banksy images, street art from St. Petersburg, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Talking about St. Petersburg made me miss it pretty violently. I have moments of that, where I’ll remember smells and tastes and sights from St. Petersburg in this visceral, compelling rush and for a moment, I can’t breathe for wanting to go back. I went as part of the Summer Literary Seminars in 2007, during the end of White Nights where there’s almost 24 hours of daylight. So I got hundreds of photographs and rarely had to worry about lighting – though consequently, any photo that required a flash came out strange or crappy. I saw so many parallels between St. Petersburg and New Orleans while I was there and so it’s strange to miss one city while I’m in the other. But of course, they are very different too. Though, my “local” grocery in St. Petersburg was called Dixie. 🙂
Then, less than 24 hours after talking to K. about Banksy, street art and St. Petersburg, I opened up an SLS email about the new literary contest. Something was missing. Russia wasn’t offered as one of the programs. So, I followed the link to find out why. I know it’s a difficult city to organize something like the summer seminars in, even in the best of times. The program is now on hiatus till 2011, unfortunately. SLS still has programs in Kenya, Lithuania and Montreal. But, judging by my (oh too short) experiences in St. Petersburg, Russia’s the best. 🙂 Anyways, while on the Russia program page, I caught a link to 10-minute video about the 10 years of SLS in St. Pete. It’s a cool video and it gives you a pretty good idea of the experiences of the program. I saw some familiar faces and places and that made me…what? homesick? what’s the word for sick for a city that’s never been your home but completely transformed you? Just heartsick, I guess. I want to be in the position to go back to Russia in 2011, to spend more time and to see more, in addition to reacquanting myself with the old “neighborhood.”
I tried to tie it all together to see if there are any known Banksy pieces in Russia. Couldn’t find anything. But, I did find two Russian references to Banky’s Kissing Policeman. First, a photograph of two Russian Policemen kissing in a winter Siberian Forest. Second, what looks like a photograph of Russian officers (a male-female couple) kissing on a Russian sidewalk paired with Banky’s piece. May I be the first to suggest that Banksy take a visit to Russia? He can take the Trans-Siberian and really do it right.
Oh, here’s a video I just found of Banksy (?) in Palestine. Check it out. .
[10.21.09: Here’s the picture of M. with the “Grey Ghost” Banksy I told y’all about. Enjoy.]