Screw ’em. They Live In Tottenham
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.
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.
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.