Banksy revealed a new artwork in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on Sunday. But it's the attached criticism that is attracting more attention. (Image Source: Banksy)
Banksy has been rolling in his on-the-streets "residency" in New York City, targeting and tagging his way through Manhattan and Brooklyn, his tags varying from the silly to the profound. However, the tagger's most recent effort is not a work on a wall, but an opinion piece attacking the design of One World Trade Center that he intended to publish in the New York Times. When his piece was declined, he posted the opinion piece on his residency website, which served as both a criticism of the new tower, and a veiled attack on the New York Times itself.
In Banksy's opinion piece, which he titled "Shyscraper," he discusses the design of One World Trade Center, the replacement to the Twin Towers that were destroyed on September 11, 2001, in the form of an art critique. Referring to it as "a shy skyscraper" and "104 floors of compromise," Banksy thinks of One World Trade Center as "something they would build in Canada." He considers One World Trade Center to be a betrayal to the spirit of New York City, "a city that made its name giving space to the mercurial and the brave," and sees the graffiti taggers that roam the rooftops and alleys of the five boroughs as more representative of the city than its soon-to-be tallest building, and goes on to say that the terrorists won. "Those 10 men have condemned us to live in a world more mediocre than the one they attacked, rather than be the catalyst for a dazzling new one."
When the New York Times declined to publish Banksy's critique — an oddity, considering they published Bono's em-dash laden joke of a piece some time ago — Banksy extended his aim to the Gray Lady by publishing the critique on his site in a blog post called "This site contains blocked messages." The article is shown in an image as resembling an actual article from the New York Times. Banksy's image "Replace With Better Artwork" may be a jab at both the WTC's design and the New York Times' opinion section's inability to post any meaningful imagery.
Is Banksy right on attacking the One WTC design? Yeah, sure. The One World Trade Center seems more a monolithic memorial to the Twin Towers than an act of defiance that allows a country to progress, to move forward. Look at the Burj Khalifa, the skyscrapers in Shanghai, or even the Taipei 101. Those towers exude are certain confidence, a certain belief in where they stand. They represent the future. One World Trade Center lacks that in the design, especially given the vague resemblance to the somewhat bland Twin Towers. Banksy's attack on the New York Times seems a little childish, admittedly, but he may be onto something about the "shyscraper."