A news reporter thinks he has unearthed an early TV interview with the elusive street artist Banksy. Robert Murphy found the footage of a young man claiming to be Banksy in the ITV News archive while conducting research on the artist. The short news item reported on Banksy’s first major exhibition, “Turf Wars,” staged in an East End London warehouse in 2003.
The clip features a man whose face is partially covered by a t-shirt hard at work. In the footage, he is completing a stencil of a black insect and painting a baby playing with alphabet letter blocks that read “KILL MORE”—two known Banksy works. The masked man told ITV News correspondent Haig Gordon that “I’m disguised because you can’t really be a graffiti writer and then go public.”
Gordon, now retired, told the Guardian that he wasn’t certain that the young man was the real Banksy, “but it seemed like an organized event. The press officer seemed like a normal press officer who wouldn’t be playing a trick on the media.” The reporter admitted he had forgotten the interview ever took place, noting that although he saw the artist completely unmasked, “I don’t think I could say a single thing about what he looked like. Isn’t that dreadful?”
As for the young artist himself, Gordon added, “he was relaxed, he was laid-back, he was amiable. I quite took to him. I was dreading a pretentious arty-farty type, but he was very pleasant.” It is possible, of course, that this figure was merely a stand-in for Banksy, who has been known to invite doppelgängers to install his work in lieu or alongside him when he knows onlookers will be present.
Banksy’s representatives did not confirm or deny the story, telling the Guardian: “No comment. We get loads of these.” Another video interview that purportedly featured the artist, this one from 1995, for Channel 4’s show Shadow People, surfaced in December 2016. The footage shows a man creating early Banksy works, such as his famous image Flower Bomber—but the dark, blurry film makes it difficult to see the subject’s face.
The anonymous artist’s identity continues to fascinate the press, which has put forth various theories as to who he might be. The most commonly held belief is that Banksy is one Robin Gunningham.
Regardless of Banksy’s real name, the artist’s politically charged work continues to make headlines, most recently at the Glastonbury Festival, where he dressed headliner Stormzy, a British rapper, in a stab-proof body armor vest painted with the Union Jack.
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