Friday 19 September 2014

Art vs Vandalism

Is defacing a Banksy art or vandalism?

Well, from the US point of view, it is certainly a crime worthy of punishment from anywhere between jail time to fines in the thousands of dollars.

It has, therefore, not been a fruitful year (artistically speaking, or otherwise) for David William Noll, who either has a big issue with Banksy's works or, whose artistic creativity, in defacing Banksy's art and then posting it on YouTube, has not been recognised.

In April this year, American "artist" Noll was charged with a vandalising several Banksy murals in separate incidents in LA and Park City, Utah.

In LA, Noll was charged with felony vandalism for painting over two Banksy works. For those charges, he pled no contest and was given three years of felony probation and 60 days of community service.

Girl on Swing – one of the Banksy works in LA that was vandalised

Around the same time, Noll was also charged with a vandalising two Banksy murals in Park City. After Noll failed to appear for a court hearing to face charges of criminal mischief for defacing those pieces, a warrant for his arrest was issued in August. At that time, it was speculated that, if convicted, Noll faced as many as 15 years in jail.

At the beginning of this week, however, Noll pleaded guilty to defacing the two Park City murals, and, as part of a plea deal, will not face jail time if he pays $13,000 in restoration costs before a November sentencing hearing.

So, could it be said that it is not a crime to paint on a wall if it looks nice/is carried out by a famous artist? But, it is a crime to paint over the works of famous artists? If this is the case, how does this fit together with instances where owners of the walls adorned by Banksy works decide to deface them?The challenges with protecting Banksy works continue to mount, even though it doesn't seem like it's an issue to Banksy.

Source: Associated Press, 16 September 2014

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