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on October 12, 2012
[Published in MIT's The Tech] - You know the dull wall of Building E38 (pink, cream, whatever) that runs between MIT Press and Cosi? The other day somebody had the audacity (dare I say, the good heart) to spray-paint two machine guns with barrels curved together in the shape of a heart. When I saw this act of vandalism, I smiled and nodded. For I have learned to appreciate this kind of art. Street art. And it's thanks to Banksy.

Maybe you don't know who Banksy is. Most people don't. This is a shame, for he is one of the most memorable visual artists of his generation. I call him an artist, but he prefers to be called a vandal. He's also a provocateur, a thinker, a poet, and Zen master of sorts.

In a new book on the elusive artist, Banksy: You Are an Acceptable Level of Threat, Patrick Potter describes Banksy as "an anonymous street artist from Bristol who rose to international fame in the late 1990s and the present day chiefly by illegally spray painting stencil designs across the major cities of the U.K. and North America." It's not street art if it isn't illegal, we are reminded, along with a quote from Banksy: "Crime against property is no real crime."

At this point, Banksy is anonymous by choice. Not only his choice, mind you, but the stubborn denial of his followers and fans: "Our myths are far more important to us than some **** with a real life." Banksy will live forever anonymously, writes Potter, "and that is as it should be. Even if he came tomorrow and revealed herself. We still wouldn't have it." Plus, anonymity is kind of handy; if you're going to play Zorro, you better damn well wear the mask.

As an artist, Banksy has tackled some of the most controversial topics of the day. In 2008 Banksy went to New Orleans, to "draw attention to the slow recovery of the city and criticise the perceived lack of political will to put money into the clean up." And his "summer project" on Israel's Wall has been called "one of the most pertinent artistic and political commentaries in recent memory" by a supporter of the Palestinian cause. Given these risky moves, anonymity is not the only layer of protection Banksy uses. Another one is replication. As Potter points out, "In his early days it seems likely that Banksy was one guy, these days there are reasons enough to suspect that there might be more than one artist working under the cypher."

If you are not familiar with Banksy -- not the man, but the style, the school of thought, the revolutionary brand -- I recommend you take a look. A fast and fun way to become acquainted is to watch his Oscar-nominated documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which Potter accurately describes as "a disorienting hall of mirrors, fun to watch but ultimately leaving you with the feeling you'd been conned but you still weren't sure exactly how."

Another way is to grab a copy of Banksy: You Are an Acceptable Level of Threat, and look back at the mesmerizing images of the protester throwing a bouquet of flowers, the girl whose heart-shaped balloon is blown away by the wind, and the ubiquitous Banksy rats. For if you contemplate them, as if a Zen koan, you will understand who Banksy is. As said by Banksy himself, "there's nothing more dangerous than someone who wants to make the world a better place."
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on January 28, 2013
I enjoyed this book but honestly I was a bit dissapointed.

I had purchased this and "Wall and Piece" and greatly prefer "Wall and piece" to this book. Its an enjoyable book and the photographs of Banksy's work is clear and amazing. However it seems that not all of the art work is by Banksy. I believe they included other work by street artists that were "inspired" by Banksy. So at times it difficult to tell what is Banksy and whats not.

This book also had much more writting in it then I thought which was nice. However it was written by a third party group and not Banksy (like he does in "wall and piece").

All in all I did like this book. It will be good to add to my collection. But if your looking for one single amazing book about Banksy and he's work. Your better off getting "Wall and Piece" by banksy himself.
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on October 16, 2012
I bought this book and Banksy's "Wall and Peace" at the same time, and prefer the other because of Banksy's witticisms and writing, although this book provides a great deal of visual information about the current world of street art. As a visual arts teacher I use both books as demonstrations of communication with line and message.
'
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on September 8, 2014
If you are the Banksy fan I am, you will love this book. Pictures of his work dominate this book and that is exactly what you want to see. The rebel inside the mysterious street artist or whatever you want to call him is evident on every page.
What really adds to the rebel spirit is the text provided by Gary Shove and Patrick Potter. The minimal text is biting, cynical, dark-edged with great wit – just like the art it accompanies. In addition to Shove and Potter writing, there are a few quotes from the man himself – “There are four basic human needs; Food, Sleep, Sex, and Revenge.” There are some photos of the King Robbo vs. Banksy feud via wall battles. Overall, I loved the photos and the text of the most controversial artist of our day.
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on September 20, 2013
Some of the graffiti has been seen over and over again but if you're a fan, this is a "must have" book. The quality of the book is great and many of the full size pictures give breath to Banksy's work, giving the viewer a broader perspective. The writing is good and adds to the mystique surrounding the artist as well as providing information in general. All in all...highly recommended
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on January 20, 2014
I love me some Banksy, ever since I realized his PARK piece was a block from my friends house in downtown Los Angeles. The mystery of his identity makes his work even more interesting. Only after I opened my first Banksy book did I read some of the information and suddenly realize that sticker on the shrink wrap might indicate the content could really mean its just made up?

Seriously because I didnt know Banksy had a team who consults with big advertisers teams to put up HUGE murals that takes months of planning. I love Banksy rat art, but when I saw the RAT advertising FOX and the story about FOX teams and Banksys team it suddenly felt like for enough money you can hire Banksy to create a Pizza ad for you. I mean I hope its not all true, I was so much more in love with him before I saw the Banksy book. Great pictures but the story they added made me wish I didnt know so much. I just bought this book yesterday and today I ordered 4 more books, and I hope they are strictly picture books.
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on August 7, 2014
pictures & layout better than wall & piece but word play not as strong as wall & piece. highly recommend DVD exit through giftshop & FIGHT CLUB for more banksy style humor. Essentially banksy riffing of chuck palanuk[?]

PS love the BUSH picture[not in wall & piece] which resembles a HAIRY woman's bush. tried to find it for background screen shot but have not been successful. that picture is hysterical.
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on January 23, 2013
We own both this and the other Banksy book. This one is better stock; it is a fuller catalogue, and the paper is of higher quality. If you are choosing between the two, buy this one. If you really like Banksy, buy both. They are both good, and they cover different periods of his work.
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on December 2, 2013
I bought this last year as a Christmas gift for my boyfriend. The book came in great condition, shipping was a nightmare. It didn't show up until Christmas Eve and I didn't even have time to wrap it. I can't vouch for the content of the book myself but my boyfriend likes his work and couldn't wait to read it.
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on August 18, 2013
This is a great book, I really love it!
All Banksy books are awesome.
I you are a Banksy fan this is a must have!
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