Banksy in times of Corona

The first Banksy painting I saw, and that was years ago, immediately fascinated me. The painter Banksy has an incredible creativity and creates a visual language that often comes across as funny and with a very strong message. I really enjoy looking at his paintings. His actions/performances are world class. For example, the way he poked fun at the entire art world when his painting “the girl with the balloon” was auctioned at the world-famous Sotheby’s is contemptuous and grotesque at the same time. He earned just over CHF 800,000 on Sothebys with this picture.

Here is a short video about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZ9PAoKvqX8

Or when he sprayed the underground in London with rats and masks last year and still remained unrecognised.  Adorable!!

Here is a short video about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cs620HFvIuQ

And since we were all on lockdown but could open the museums, it was pretty clear that I wouldn’t miss the Banksy exhibition at Messe Basel.

Now it’s evening, I’m back from Basel and unfortunately I have to say it was a very sober experience. To be Corona compliant, you have to buy tickets in advance. That seemed well thought out and convincing to me. So I bought my tickets in advance and at 4.10pm I was standing in front of the entrance with my youngest. There was already a long queue, which was not really Corona compliant. I was surprised, because at the ski lifts in December I was once badly beaten up by a supervisor because my mask slipped. But here, about half the people were in the queue without masks. Yes, they were outside and the temperature was freezing, but already the gaps were less than 1.5 metres.

In Zurich, sit-ins of five were broken up and in Basel, assemblies of more than 50 people did not seem to be an issue. It became even more sobering when it was finally our turn – at about 4.25pm. The ticket inspector told us that our tickets were only valid from 4.30pm and he was looking for those who had tickets for admission from 4pm. He waved to the people behind us.  But they also had tickets for admission from 4.30pm. Then he waved to the next people to come closer.  In this way, he managed to form a hustle and bustle within a very short time, densely packed people in a heap, some still without masks and without any distance. I became unwell when man beside me started coughing. I didn’t drive over an hour to Basel to catch some virus. I suggested to the young man that instead of people moving towards him, he should walk along the queue and look for people who have a ticket with admission from 16:00. A well thought-out concept looks different.

Finally we were inside and the disappointment was huge. The exhibition would have been fine in times before Corona. But in times of Corona, when people try to avoid contact. I was missing well thought-out and implemented concept. People crowded around the pictures, which hung much too close to each other, the lettering offset with much too small letters, so that you really had to step closer to be able to read them at all. And the whole exhibition was shrouded in a kind of artificial darkness that I unfortunately couldn’t do anything with. The whole thing for a whopping 25 francs!!!

But to be honest – the pictures did not disappoint. The pictures were great and I discovered things I didn’t know yet. But the atmosphere and the enjoyment didn’t come up. Unfortunately, that was hardly possible in these exhibition spaces. In the end, I didn’t even escape Corona in the art world. The virus was very present and perhaps more present than the artist’s works. To immerse myself in a painting with someone standing just a few centimetres behind me was impossible.

I still remain loyal to Banksy. But whether I’ll go to another exhibition in times of Corona is something I’ll have to think about very carefully.

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