Who is Banksy? It’s one of the most enduring mysteries of the art world, perhaps even pop culture, since the emergence of the street artist in the early 2000s. But we could be a little closer to the true identity of the artist following the recent discovery of a lost BBC interview in which Banksy appears to confirm his name.
The BBC reported on Monday that it had discovered a 2003 interview between promising young street artist Banksy and former BBC arts correspondent Nigel Screw. The original recording was edited for a spot on BBC radio which was later used as part of the BBC podcast series. Banksy’s story which was released in July. But Screw, after listening to the podcast series, wanted to revisit the full original recording and discovered a lot more buried information about the artist that was never used.
In the unearthed audio, Wrench speaks to Banksy, who was in his 20s at the time, before the artist arrived. Turf War exhibition in East London in the summer of 2003. Crown asks Banksy if his name is “Robert Banks”, and the artist replies: “It’s Robbie”.
Banksy’s identity has long intrigued the art world, and in particular the United Kingdom’s feverish tabloid press. The artist rarely gives interviews, which adds to his mystery. In one of his first interviews, the artist spoke with the Guardian in 2003, and he was described as “white, 28 years old, casual and scruffy – jeans, T-shirt, silver tooth, silver chain and silver earring.” He looks like a cross between Jimmy Nail and Mike Skinner from The Streets.
Over the past two decades, various people have been identified as Banksy, including Robert Del Naja, also known as 3D and co-founder of the hugely influential trip-hop group Massive Attack. Supposed evidence that Del Naja was Banksy included that they were both from the Bristol area and that the musician had also dabbled in graffiti from a young age. Jamie Hewlett, the artist and designer best known for co-creating the band Gorillaz and the comic strip Tank girlhas also been suggested in the past as Banksy’s real identity.
In 2008, The daily mail claimed that a Bristol-based man named Robin Gunningham was Banksy. The newspaper spoke to Gunningham’s school friends and peers to corroborate the story. The Mail reports that Gunningham started going by the name Robin Banks, which became Banksy. In October, Sunday time reported that Gunningham may be forced to reveal his identity due to a defamation suit seeking to determine whether he is behind famous murals.
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