Banksy Learns About a Bootleg Show of His Work in Moscow and Responds in a Very Banksy Way

The reclusive street artist has been cropping up all over Instagram this summer.

Installation view of the "Banksy" show at the Central House of Artist Museum.

The anonymous street artist Banksy is irked over an unauthorized exhibition currently on view in Russia. On Wednesday afternoon, Banksy’s official Instagram page included a screen-grab of an online chat in which he denied any affiliation with or endorsement of a current exhibition dedicated to him in Moscow.

In the exchange, the elusive street artist appears to be learning—for the first time—about the show, which opened June 2 at Moscow’s Central House of Artist Museum. In response to a picture of the museum facade plastered with his name, the artist asks his unnamed interlocutor, “You’re funny. What the hell is that?”

Upon being told it’s a ticketed exhibition in Moscow, he replies, “You know it’s got nothing to do with me right? I don’t charge people to see my art unless there’s a fairground wheel.”

Tickets to the show are about $10 for weekend admission, or about $20 for a VIP tour.

When Banksy’s correspondent implores the artist to put out a press release expressing his displeasure, he replies with appropriate irony: “Hmm—not sure I’m the best person to complain about people putting up pictures without getting permission.” Instead, it seems, he just chooses to post the text exchange as a dig at the Russian “Banksy” show.

The artist is known for his guerrilla-style exploits, so it’s unsurprising that the lavish Russian show didn’t come with a stamp of approval. The exhibition includes more than 100 pieces, including 3-D objects, original prints, and photographs culled from private collections and several international modern art museums, according to its official website.

The exhibition has been a long time coming. In 2014 a major survey was slated to open at the city’s Manege exhibition hall, but never came to fruition.

In an interview with  RT, the show’s organizer Aleksandr Nachkebiya cited political tension, especially between Russia and Britain, as a major obstacle. “Some collectors refused… many were afraid that the collection won’t return.” He mentioned “impossible insurance demands.”

Although Banksy’s Instagram account typically functions as straight documentation of the artist’s most recent work, lately he’s been using it to speak directly to his followers. Just last month, he posted the full text of a letter sent to him by the Turkish artist Zehra Doğan, who is currently serving a nearly three-year sentence in prison for her painting of the Kurdish town of Nusaybin.

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