Two murals attributed to Banksy – originally painted in Bethlehem in 2007 and re-emerged in an exhibition at the Keszler Gallery in August 2011 – are removed due to go on show in Miami in December. The removal of the works Stop and Search and Wet Dog have created a huge criticism from some parts of the art scene, who is arguing that the murals should have been left in situ and the galleries involved don’t have any rights to remove the art pieces form the murals.
Banksy first visited Bethlehem in 2005, when he painted nine murals on the 436-mile West Bank wall. The works depict scenes from life beyond the barrier and earned praise from human rights campaigners who condemn the wall, which Israel started to build in 2002. Banksy returned to Bethlehem in December 2007 to stage his annual “Santa’s Ghetto” exhibition there. Stop and Search and Wet Dog were among the six murals he painted in the city to draw attention to the conflict and to support the tourism industry.
However, it’s actually not the galleries who are responsible for removing Banksy’s two pieces, but actually the pieces have been removed by Palestinians, who tried to sell them on eBay for $500,000 each. When they couldn’t sell them and around four years ago they approached the gallery owner Robin Barton.
Besides the two mentioned Bansky pieces other works of the famous artist will be featured too at the exhibition ‘Bansky Out of Context’ from 5-9th of December 2012, including Kissing Coppers (2005) from a pub in Brighton, England, and Out of Bed Rat (2002) from Los Angeles. None of the works has been authenticated by Banksy, who never signs his murals.The exhibition is part of the debut edition of Context – a contemporary art fair organized by Art Miami produced in conjunction with Sephan Keszler, owner of the eponymous gallery, and Robin Barton, as mentioned before, owner of London’s Bankrobber Gallery. Barton says that none of the works in the Miami exhibition will be for sale because the aim of the show is to: “continue the debate about whether a work of art is still valid outside its original context”.
In 2010, Barton and Keszler paid £24,000 to transport the murals, which together weigh nearly six tonnes, across the border to Israel and then on to Britain, where they spent around £34,000 on restoring and framing them. The dealers paid a further £24,000 to ship the works to New York, they say.