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‘Banksyland’ (Unauthorized and Unmasked) Opens in Portland

Banksy’s new show is not approved by Banksy … which you would imagine he approves.

The artist whose work turns the military-industrial consumer complex on its head through rebellious symbolism is now on an unofficial tour. Well, his work is at least. Banksyland is a journey that’s hundreds of artifacts strong through a universe at once optimistic (about people) and misanthropic (about the unwieldy organization they create). Curator Elle Miller, though, ultimately wants the exhibition to endow hope to its visitors.

'Man with Flowers' centers this view of the new 'Banksyland' exhibit in Portland, traveling across the United States.
Banksyland/One Thousand Ways.

“The goal is to give people something, those people who have been lost in the world the last few years,” curator Elle Miller said.

Arriving on Friday, April 15, Banksyland invites patrons to get lost in ephemera spreading out over 25,000 square feet, finding new vision in coming together again. The show premiered in Portland on purpose before moving on to other primarily small cities, bringing renowned work to communities that don’t always have access to these huge shows. Banksyland features dozens of authenticated, signed works by the semi-anonymous British street artist, organized by the art collective One Thousand Ways.

“Portland doesn’t always get to see stuff like this,” Miller said. “We wanted to share his work with the people, so we organized a not-for-profit organization and are creating a grant to fund arts education and artists.”

A red-robed rider atop a war horse in the new 'Banksyland' exhibit, now open in Portland and traveling across the United States.
Banksyland/One Thousand Ways.

Revenue from Banksyland donations will help to fund arts education in each city where the art expo lands. In the Rose City, this means a non-descript inner Southeast industrial district warehouse. One hundred authenticated works and never before seen Banksy installations were dug up from an exhaustive search to find private loans across the world.

On display will be salvaged steel and concrete street works, several displaying the iconic Banksy rat graffiti. There are signed and authenticated Banksy studio editions such as Smiling Copper, Happy Chopper, and the notable Girl with Balloon. There will be plenty of 3D at the opening as well, from a bronze Molotov Flower Thrower to the dystopian Gross Domestic Product installation. Also available to view are never before seen installations. Miller and her team aim to bring new eyes to works, noting the momentary nature of public works.

A stenciled black and white child prays before stained glass windows in the new 'Banksyland' exhibit showing in Portland and across the United States.
Banksyland/One Thousand Ways.

Renovated during the pandemic from the abandoned Miller Paint Factor into offices gathering in the old warehouse. It makes sense then that the site utilizes salvaged materials to hone a creative atmosphere, which events like Banksyland punctuate.

“The owner is really into the arts,” Miller said. “It’s right under the Hawthorne Bridge. Orange and blue building. It’s nice because they still kind of left it raw.”

With very little advertising and pre-show hype, there’s already public energy behind the coming gathering of iconic work.

“It’s been all word-of-mouth advertising. People really stepping into spring, hitting the ground running. And in Portland, we don’t get a lot of shows like this,” Miller said.

The show is currently slated to run through Sunday, May 8, but there’s a possibility of an extension. Either way, it’s an opportunity for a reflection and a discussion with the world after so long isolated.

Matthew Denis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Matt Denis is an on-the-go remote multimedia reporter, exploring arts, culture, and the existential in the Pacific Northwest…
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