Banksy for the Wimp
In autumn 2013 Banksy, the elusive British street art artist, celebrated his self-declared art residency in New York. Show is everything, right? In November then after a very short and somewhat moody mental pregnancy, I gave birth to the unloved bastard out of a much regretted one night stand between my insecurities and my frustration. I called that brainchild ‘Banksy for the Wimp’. I declared art residency in my parents’ kitchen. It’s much warmer than the streets, has good food, offers a much lower chance of running into other people, and it comes equipped with a small blackboard, which can be cleaned of the ‘graffiti’ quite easily to create something new. And I did create something new every day for a while on this backboard, commenting on all kind of things. Yep, I am a wimp and that’s Banksy for the Wimp.
Banksy for the Wimp: Shakespeare Edition
One year has gone by, it’s November –again – and I decided to return to the kitchen and the blackboard. Where else to spend the darkest days of the year than in a cozy room with stories to share?
The days between Samhain/Halloween and Jul were once called the dark times (Dunkelzeit, Morketid etc.). Each day is shorter than the one before and often clouds and rain hang so low and thick in the skies that they serve as an additional blanket dimming the light. At some places the sun doesn’t even manages to climb over the horizon anymore. The ancient people, heavily depended on the sun, retreated inside. There they fashioned wreaths from evergreen twigs with candles. Each day less candles burned thus the people let the darkness sip into their homes. They understood that darkness and death is an integral part of our lives. They pitted stories filled with knowledge and wisdom against it. The wreath represented their steadfast belief in the ever turning wheel of time and with it in their conviction that the light would return and with it life. Over time our rituals changed, but the connection between light, knowledge, and stories remained.
So, I have stories. Shakespeare’s plays. And I tell them to you in just a few words. The catch is, I use a code I devised based on emojis. Everyone uses them so the code shouldn’t be too hard to break, right? Right? Then again, have you ever tried to decipher hieroglyphs? Welcome back to your early days in school when letters only barely clung together to form words and sentences.
As always there is the question of WHY to address. And let me start to answer this by stating what is generally true for all my projects: because I can. But in this context this ‘because I can’ takes on a whole new meaning. I can because I once learnt to talk and read a rather useful code that gave and gives me access to several universes worth of information and stories that helped me to shape who I am today and continue to help me in my quest to understand my surrounding and form independent opinions and lines of thought.
What is true for me is true for everyone else as well. Language is the tool that shapes our mind, and stories are the path that lead us ahead to understanding, strength, consolidation, help and sometimes just to this short moment of relaxation necessary to go on. Being able to read means freedom and books are the most useful weapon anyone can wish for. It is not without reason that manipulation and exploitation always start with limited access or use of reading skills and/or stories and information. Once we are able to read the only limits set to our minds are self-imposed, e.g. by choosing to limit our code by the use of little pictures or by limiting the diversity of topics we confront ourselves with.
So, while hundredth and thousands of people sit down in November to write the stories inside them, I chose to celebrate that we can read and what we read with a dose of fun and art, and the trickle of excitement that accompanies a contest. And, it’s a kitchen – I have cookies.