A Banksy Imitator Emerges on the Streets of India

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First there was Bansky. Then there was Bambi, the so-called “female Banksy.” And now there’s another imitator to add to the list: Guesswho, the . . . “Banksy of India.”

BBC reports that the walls and buildings that make up Kochi, a city on India’s southwest coast, have quickly become covered in clever stencils that typically function as mash-ups between Indian and Western cultural iconography.

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With Kochi in the midst of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the works are receiving massive attention both online and in real life. Some people are choosing to view them as a pointed reaction against the organized festival.

Like Banksy, Guesswho will not reveal his identity, but he did chat with the BBC via email. The artist revealed that he is not trying to send a political message but is trying to depart from the “hierarchies and definitions imposed by the traditional art institutions,” and to jump-start a street art culture in India.

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“I don’t believe it is art’s purpose to send any message. [Street art is] mainly an alternative way to use a visual language that people are unfamiliar with here,” he continued.

Also like Banksy (and many other street artists), Guesswho has dealt with people trying to figure out his identity, whitewashing his walls, and treating his practice like criminal activity. But when asked about the reaction the stencils have provoked, he responded: “Totally unexpected to be honest. Never thought people who don’t otherwise care about art and stuff would start talking about it.”


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