In an effort to broaden my horizons, I watched 2 radically different movies this weekend.
The first was Banksy Does New York – Banksy is a world-famous UK-based street graffiti artist who is also a bit of a mystery. The doc focused on his 31 day residency of New York City a few years ago, and all the ‘hints’ via his social media channels on the location of the next art installation during his residency, and chasing that ensued during his random installations across the city. What was most interesting was what happened AFTER people realized his art was installed somewhere – the removal of the art, the transformation of the art by other graffiti artists who thought Banksy sold out, etc., and the performance which actually became part of the art itself, really. (And it also left me wondering about some art legal issues too – like, if Banksy left art on a building he didn’t own, who OWNED the art? Who owned the copyright in the art? And, if it was removed, was it stolen? Was it stolen if Banksy never said it was stolen?)
If the purpose of art is supposed to move you or get you to think, I think he definitely succeeded during his 31 day residency in NYC. Although, the mayhem that it caused was borderline ridiculous, considering the real challenges and problems in the world. On the other hand, he actually made many political and social points while installing and scattering his art throughout the 5 boroughs.
The second movie, also a doc, Paycheck to Paycheck: the Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert was equally thought-provoking, but in a completely different way. Here, we have a young mother of 3 kids, ill-educated (perhaps due in part to her marrying early?), with no healthcare insurance, making $9.49 an hour as a CNA, and doing her best to raise her family despite her own diagnosis of Graves’ Disease, and a former drug-addicted husband who lived in a different state at the beginning of the movie. I’m not even going to try and sugar coat it, here: it looked bleak for her, particularly when she was trying to go back to school and get more education, and in particular when the kids had to give up their puppy. I was exhausted for her just watching it.
The bright spot was Chambliss Child Care Center, which is a 24/7 center for kids who have working moms to help them with child care that is affordable. Unfortunately, the waiting list for the center was crazy long at the end of the film.
One of the favorite games I like to play with my brain is trying to figure out how everything is connected, and I often think things show up in my universe at the same time for a reason. But between these two films, the only thing I can see that is similar is the ridiculousness of both – in that the same energy put in to chasing some paint and street art seems incredibly wasted vs. putting more of our civic energy into helping more Katrina Gilberts in the world. We’ll spend millions on street art, but we can’t seem to help working moms who are actually trying to better themselves with things like affordable child care and more education.
If Banksy is reading this, I challenge him to figure out a way to help the Chambliss Child Care Center, like he did for the second hand salvage store that donated to homeless/HIV patients at Housing Works in NYC in his film. (I wouldn’t recommend fascism, however, as the vehicle by which he did it NYC.) As for me, I’ll be making a donation to Chambliss as well. For all of us, I challenge each to think about what we are channeling our energy into. Is it something ridiculous? More important, is there a way we can do better by our channeled energy to make the universe a better place?
That is all I have you for you on a Sunday morning.