A guy who moved to New York to work in digital marketing ended up doing parodies of Bansky, and the Times is on it.
Hansky and his pop culture punnery, which now includes Little Waynedeer, Stairway to Kevin (Kevin, as in Macaulay Culkin’s character in Home Alone) and this Boy Meets World–inspired valentine in which Cory Matthews says “I’d like Tobangya!” have been around for over two years, but the still-anonymous artist made news last month for acquiring the keys to an abandoned warehouse in the East Village, inviting a whole bunch of street artists to spray paint all the apartments in it, and then opening it up for an exclusive two-hour tour.
But perhaps the most ingenious Hanksy-related work is this New York Times profile, which we still can’t figure out whether or not is supposed to be a joke.
Exhibit A, the first sentence:
“This is a story about art in the age of social media—about anonymity and self-promotion, about feral cats and viral cat videos.”
This story is going to have so many cats, you guys.
When discussing the impetus for Hansky’s existence, we get this curt explanation as if it is quite common sense:
“He admired the street artist Banksy; he grew up on the movies of Tom Hanks. Why not mash up the two?”
Why not, indeed?
Later, we get the tidbit that Hansky also happens to be a part-owner of a restaurant on the Lower East Side, without any further discussion:
“’And then it just went viral,’ Hanksy said the other day, speaking in a Lower East Side coffee shop near the restaurant in which he is a partner.”
Instead of, you know, following up on how this anonymous street artist became a restaurant investor, attention is directed towards his modest Midwestern charm:
“…he wore a baseball cap over his longish blonde hair and spoke in a self-deprecating voice full of Delavan, Wis.”
Oh, those self-deprecating Delavansans. Nothing like those jerks up in Pensawanee.
But then we get to the part about Hansky’s anonymity, and that Midwestern modesty starts turning into an ickyness that recalls the aspiring marketing professional as opposed to cutesy street artist:
“Through it all he hoped to maintain his anonymity, in part for the romance entailed. In a scene that documents its every move, secrets are still compelling. ‘There’s a little more allure or excitement when that veil of anonymity is in the air,’ he said. ‘Let’s just stay anonymous and have fun with it. Like, people know who Banksy is, or people know who Daft Punk is, but they don’t want to because it ruins the fun. They’d rather not know or not believe they know.'”
Yeah, nothing like an artist explaining what the public wants from their artists, and then using that as their motivation to create art. But then again, it all makes sense when you describe it like this:
“The collaboration, which he called Surplus Candy, was illegal and somewhat secret—exactly the combination that would produce page views. ‘You throw in a couple of keywords—East Village, illegal, street art—people will run with that,’ he said.”
Oof. Note to self: don’t click on a New York Times profile unless you’re prepared to fully despise the subject after reading it.
But it is this kicker of a last sentence that fully redeems the Times for all else:
“And he walked out into the Lower East Side slush, another anonymous, vulnerable soul in the big city.”
If you’re in the mood for more Hansky, be sure to check out this delightful interview conducted by Tom Hanks’ daughter, in which the artist clearly has no idea who he’s speaking with.
Or, find him on OKCupid.