Screw ’em. They Live In Tottenham

No Ball Games

Almost two years ago to the day, on the 18th of August, 2011, I walked five minutes down the road from where I live in Tottenham and took this picture of Banksy’s No Ball Games. I proudly posted it on Facebook to an artist friend of mine in the US who couldn’t believe I lived so close to a real Banksy. About a week earlier than that, Tottenham had been in flames, set alight in local riots. Venturing out to once more view No Ball Games, our very own Banksy, helped me begin to heal.

This morning, in roughly the same location, I took this picture. Banksy Boarded Over

A corporation called the Sincura Group, who describe themselves as “the market leaders in VIP concierge, lifestyle, tickets and events …” and as the “the best connected network in London”, now claim to be “representing” the piece. By “representing”, I think they mean removing No Ball Games from the wall and selling it at private auction. My guess is, the VIP whose lifestyle Sincura is catering to in this instance doesn’t live in Tottenham.

In fact, I think Tottenham is the last place on the Sincura Group’s mind. If you read their website, where they actually have a special section set aside to advertise their “representation” of Banksy, the Sincura Group make the positively Orwellian claim to have “salvaged” No Ball Games for “renovation”. They say a number of attempts have been made to deface the work, and that it will now “be sensitively restored to its former glory”. As you can see from my post-riot photos, the piece had lost none of its glory. In fact, by surviving the riots, No Ball Games had gained glory. Of course, what Sincura conveniently leave out is that No Ball Games had a clear plastic protective sheet over it. It could not be defaced.No Ball Games 3No Ball Games 2

Peeling back the oily layers of justification smothering the motives of Sincura’s action both here and in Wood Green, a short bus ride away where Sincura also oversaw the removal of Banksy’s Slave Labour, one thought emerges: Fuck ‘em. They live in Tottenham. Sure, the profits from the sale will go, so they say, to charity. But someone, some wealthy and powerful VIP, likely whispered to Sincura, who are after all “the best connected network in London”, that it sure would be nice to own a Banksy. That person doesn’t have charity on his brain, or art appreciation. That person has money on his brain. No Ball Games, when it goes on auction at Sincura’s 2014 Art Exhibition, once sold, will then be re-sold for profit. It’s now a commodity. (How much “glory” is there in that?) The people of Tottenham, whom Banksy deemed worthy of hosting his iconic art, the people who felt special to have it in their neighbourhood (and who have little enough to feel special about in this deprived area), will never see No Ball Games again. Because, when there’s money to made, well, fuck ‘em. They live in Tottenham.

Sincura

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Posted on July 31, 2013, in Musing. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Couldn’t agree more (very sadly) Richard. Best book I’ve read this year was the Banksy one. Amazingly thought provoking and beautifully artistic. I don’t think he’d like all this shnizzle!

  2. What you fail to mention in this article is that these building owners never asked for Banksy to illegally graffiti on their building. By having these pieces they run the real risk of having a grade 2 listing put on their building (which affects their resale value) and also attract unwanted attention to their buildings.
    Whatsmore, you state that by putting a plastic cover over the pieces it protects them, when this couldn’t be further from the truth. The bacteria buildup and the inability for the wall to breath means this piece would be lost forever in a few years time.
    So yes, the piece has been removed. And yes, it has been restored (at a cost of over £100k). And yes, in 100 years time the piece will still be alive – albeit it in a private collection. But it will still exist. And yes, charities from the local community will receive a substantial sum of money which will change more lives than having a painting on the wall.

    • Oh, Sincura “Arts” Group (if it is indeed you, and I’ll pretend that it is), thank you so much for replying. I love nothing more than to parse piles of self-justifying corporate double-speak horse manure.

      So where do I start?

      How about with how solidly you’ve earned your credentials as an “Arts” group? Who better should we, the public, trust to handle our public art than a group who describes the work of a world-famous artist as “illegal graffiti”?

      As for the restoration of the piece, I’ve no doubt your firm invested a fair sum into sprucing it up for auction. That’s standard horse-trading practise. You’ve even gone to some length to enumerate your costs. (Although, rather than calling the money spent on restoration a “cost”, why not let’s be honest here, and call that sum what it really is, an “investment”. Likely a pretty shrewd one, too.) But, while you’re more than happy to talk about how much was spent to shine the piece up for auction so you could extract the maximum profit possible, what you have neglected to mention—let’s just say you “forgot”, okay?—is how much money you plan to make from it. Banksy gave what you call that piece of “illegal graffiti” to the people of Tottenham. It was a gift. You stole that gift. How much money do you plan to make off of it? What’s your game? Your website claims all proceeds will go to a local charity. So, I guess I’ll just go ahead and believe you. You’ve spent 100K (plus whatever labour was involved in cutting the piece out of the building), just so you could give all the profit to a local charity. You’re just one big bunch of benevolently altruistic do-gooders with no other motive in mind than the betterment of Tottenham. Do I have that right? I mean, you can’t have the betterment of art in mind, as you’ve already referred to Banksy’s art as “illegal graffiti”. In your final sentence, you refer to it as some “painting on a wall”, as though a child had just thrown her watercolours all over the side of the building. So it can’t be for the betterment of art, it has to be that you’re just so passionate about bettering Tottenham that you chose to steal our artwork. (Do you hear what a pile of self-justifying corporate double-speak horse manure that sounds like?)

      Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed—no, wait; I’m being disingenuous here; I know you haven’t noticed, because you don’t care about Tottenham and have likely never been here—but … the area is undergoing somewhat of a refurbishment of late. By and large, if we look at, say, St Paul’s Cathedral or Nelson’s Column, (or even the Tottenham High Cross, a short distance from where our Banksy used to be before you stole it) we can see that London is good at taking care of its public art. If that Banksy had started to deteriorate, what with the investment in the area that’s currently happening, something tells me that any work belonging to us by that world-famous artist would also have been preserved. But I guess we’ll never know now, will we? Thanks for helping us out with that one.

      Advice: next time you get all heart-fluttery about helping a poor community by stealing its art (I keep forgetting, you don’t consider it art, it’s just “illegal graffiti” and some “painting on a wall”)—anyway, the next time the need to help out a community tugs at those little ol’ heartstrings of yours, do that community a favour—bugger off.

  3. That reply, if it’s genuine, is the most meretriciously self-contradictory set of arguments I’ve read in a very long time — ‘[money] will change more lives than a painting on a wall’.

    So why go to the expense of removing and ‘preserving’ something as unimportant as a ‘painting on a wall’ and why will someone pay an enormous amount of money just for ‘a painting on a wall’.

    And I know how the property developers think but to talk about the risk of getting a grade 2 listing on a building shows what cultural vandals these people are. They often demolish buildings of real value in order to prevent them being listed.

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