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to be banksy'd

It will have escaped nobody’s attention; during an auction at Sotheby’s last weekend, the British artist Banksy had his artwork ‘Girl with a balloon’ shredded. The moment the hammer went down and the work was sold for a record amount well over a million pounds, more than three times the pre-estimated revenue, a built-in mechanism in the frame of the twelve-year-old piece was activated. The stunt underlines Banksy’s anti-capitalism and creatively undermines the sometimes perverse market mechanisms in art. 

Currently, similar mechanisms strongly push housing prices to great heights. With the demand for housing, a minimum savings rate and a strongly fluctuating stock market, real estate is a safe investment. For example, more than 20% of all houses are currently bought by investors. The effects are substantial in every section of the market, but are nowhere as poignant as for first time buyers and renters. Small, cheap houses take an extreme run and become unaffordable. New buildings developed for students end up in the private rental sector after all. This weekend, newspaper Het Parool brought a painful example of tiny starter homes of which the relatively low rent was forced up by various ‘services’ such as monthly costs for the key card and fees for guests or people who take care of your house during your holiday. 

The proliferation calls for a ‘game changer’ able to break open the mechanisms behind it: a shredder, if you want. But there are no simple solutions; the market is persistent and renders even starter houses developed with good intentions excessively expensive in no time. Irony wants that every counteraction inevitably becomes part of the system. 

For example, his anti-capitalist work has turned Banksy into one of the richest visual artist in the world. Also, the shredded ‘Girl with a balloon’ now holds a more important place in the history of art than the neatly framed work did before, thus rendering it’s worth approximately doubled. 

Ronald Schleurholts, architect-director cepezed 

Cobouw, 11th of October 2018  

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