Entertainment, On A High Note

“Saving Banksy” shines light on wonders of street art

This Friday, the Franklin Art Scene—the monthly first-Friday art crawl in downtown Franklin, which now features 30 venues—will have an added feature.

Following the crawl (6:00p.m.-9:00p.m.), the documentary film, “Saving Banksy” will screen free of charge at Franklin Theatre. S&E Nashville interviewed Éva Boros, the film’s writer and co-executive producer, who gave us more insight into her role in the film and the considerations it presents.

In addition to being a writer and co-executive producer of "Saving Banksy," Boros is also involved with the Nashville Walls Project. PHOTO COURTESY EVA BOROS

In addition to being a writer and co-executive producer of “Saving Banksy,” Boros is also involved with the Nashville Walls Project. PHOTO COURTESY EVA BOROS

Talk a little about the abundance of street art in your native country, Hungary—how it was part of the landscape/culture during the democratic transition and what purposed it served.

My childhood in Hungary was delineated by major cultural and political change. Hungary had its first Democratic election in 1990, opening its doors to westernization. During the transition from communism, Hungarian counterculture surfaced along with its coinciding graffiti. I watched graffiti transform into an articulation of freedom while growing up, although in recent years I have noticed a renewed undercurrent of graffiti protesting politics in Hungary.

How did your earlier life experience inform your work on “Saving Banksy”?

“Saving Banksy” is a documentary film, so I tried to keep my input as objective as possible. However I will say that, although I am not a graffiti artist, it is my favorite form of expression. I was 11 years old when I emigrated from Hungary. The only similarity I saw between the United States and Eastern Europe was graffiti. Its familiarity gave me a way to distract myself from culture shock. I became immersed in the history of graffiti, and became familiar with the artists who pioneered the movement. To this day, whenever I visit a new city, the first thing I look for is the graffiti.

Brian Greif, who offers Banksy's "Haight Street Rat" (in background) for viewing free of charge, produced the documentary, "Saving Banksy." PHOTO BY JEFF FRAZIER/JEFFFRAZIER.COM

Brian Greif, who offers Banksy’s “Haight Street Rat” (in background) for viewing free of charge, produced the documentary, “Saving Banksy.” PHOTO BY JEFF FRAZIER/JEFFFRAZIER.COM

In terms of the distinction between “street art” from “graffiti,” can you clarify what street art does and does not do?

The biggest misconception people have is that graffiti and street art are the same thing. They are two completely different forms of art. Graffiti is done for sport illegally, whereas street art is commissioned. Graffiti is done for other graffiti writers and street art is meant for the general public.

What would you want the audience to take away from viewing “Saving Banksy”?

I would like to hear people to talk about what they think is wrong or right in terms of taking graffiti from its original location with intentions for profit. Debate if street art should be preserved or not. Recognize the hilarity of it all.

How did you initially become involved in the making of “Saving Banksy” and the Nashville Walls Project?

I met Brian Greif (producer and curator of the Nashville Walls Project) in 2010, right around the time he had removed Banksy’s “Haight Street Rat” from the side of Red Victorian, a building located in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. His intention was to preserve and relocate the rat to a museum for the public. After his efforts to donate the rat proved unsuccessful (because no museum would accept graffiti as art) he asked me to write a documentary about it. It took a few years for the story to develop; however, by 2014, post-production on the movie was in full swing. We decided to do Nashville Walls Project in conjunction with the premiere of “Saving Banksy” at the Nashville Film Festival.

Who are the street artists who appear in the film? What did some of them have to say about their art?

There are a lot of great graffiti/street artists in “Saving Banksy.”

Ben Eine, from England: “Right now, today, I wouldn’t want one of my paintings preserved. In a hundred years time, when I’m dead, and none of them exist, I would love to have one of my paintings preserved. It’s a double-edge sword.”

RISK, from Los Angeles: “You can love my stuff, you can hate my stuff, you can steal my stuff . . . but give me the right to decide what I wanna sell or not sell.”

The artist Above works on his mural for downtown Nashville, as part of the Nashville Walls Project. He is expected to attend the screening of "Saving Banksy" in Franklin this Friday. PHOTO BY EVA BOROS

The artist Above works on his mural for downtown Nashville, as part of the Nashville Walls Project. He is expected to attend the screening of “Saving Banksy” in Franklin this Friday. PHOTO BY EVA BOROS

Doze Green, from New York: “It’s selfish to take something down that was put there for the public to love . . . or hate, but it was meant for the public.”

The other artists in the film are Niels Shoe Meulman, from Amsterdam; Revok, originally from Nashville; Blek le Rat, from France; Hera, from Germany; and Anthony Lister, from Australia.

Producer Brian Greif: “The film is not about Banksy. His work is an important part of the film, but the movie is important because it is intended to showcase not only the beauty, but also the importance of street art as a major movement in art history.”

Doors at the Franklin Theatre open at 9:00 p.m. for the 9:30 p.m. screening of “Saving Banksy.” Although admission is free, tickets are required. Prior to the showing, Franklin Theatre will host Chris Ousley, Roy Laws and Laura Neal, who will be painting live on location. The artist Above, who is expected to finish his mural for the Nashville Walls Project this week, is scheduled to be at the screening, along with Boros.

1 Comment

  1. Jason Gower

    Great read. Looking Forward To Checking This Out !!!

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