“Russian Banksy”: Nickname as Insult
Pasha 183, hiding now as P183, became known around the world by the nickname "Russian Banksy." This happened after a number of articles on websites of several British newspapers used the name. It created a media circus involving a whole string of Western and then Russian media.
The first article, published on January 31, 2012 in British newspaper The Guardian, compared Pasha 183 with Banksy. After that, the Daily Mail and The Telegraph overly exaggerated this connection, going so far as to state that the artist used nickname Bankski because his work was so similar. This media frenzy drew attention to Pasha's art from people in Russia and around the world, and started a debate on the Internet.
To understand this unexpected precedent for the Russian street-art community, we decided to address this rather absurd situation by highlighting some comments posted on Facebook.
This was all followed by a report on Dozhd' which continued to report inaccurate facts about Pasha, while adding ridiculous details and statements:
Russia Today, in our opinion, provided adequate coverage, but again focused exclusively on the Western audience:
This was all followed by a fun and informative interview in the Russian edition of Interview magazine and selection of works on the BBC Russia, which denied that Pasha had ever even seen work by Banksy, and that all they share is a spirit of anarchic protest.
Bridge burner, 2011.
We contacted P183 for a brief interview in which we asked him to comment on his sudden popularity.
Igor Ponosov (IP): Pasha, how are you? How are you coping with all this? How have you been affected by your sudden rise in fame? As I recall, to some extent you always remained underground, and when I saw infinite mentions of you in the media I immediately wondered how comfortable you were with this situation, and with all that has happened.
Pasha 183 (P183): Well, it's hard. I feel a tremendous responsibility to the people.
IP: Well, at least there must be some rewards?
P183: It's not a reward; rather a lack of attention that I had before, and am probably compensating for. Now, I speak to everyone, not just with their friends, acquaintances, members of street art community.
IP: It's not scary? To go from a circle of friends that is very limited, and then suddenly be exposed to millions.
P183: Yeah, I feel responsible. It is hard.
IP: How do you feel about this comparison to Banksy? Is it warped?
P183: All of these titles are aimed at a comparison of what I do, and what makes me like Banksy. On the one hand, it's nice, because I am aware of his contributions. On the other hand it is annoying that supposedly I was called Bankski (I finally learned how to pronounce it). Bullshit - it's scary and not nice. I didn't spend 14 years creating for them to rename me.
IP: And you do not think that this buzz could be a Banksy project? To create a new kind of global phenomenon - 'Banksism', and that you could be a part of this?
P183: It was my first thought too. At first I did not understand anything that was happening and I thought that it was written just about me; then there appeared a comparison with Banksy. Till then I had only been compared, which is quite normal and not so scary. But when they started to say that Pasha is a wannabe or Banksy follower, it was hurtful.
IP: The shortening of your name to P183 is something you did yourself?
P183: No, I do not know where it came from. This is something the media themselves have chosen, and perhaps took from my e-mail address.
IP: I thought that you picked up on this Banksy game and you followed the laws of this genre to become completely anonymous and hidden and depersonalized your nickname, reducing it to P183. You seemed to support that. Or is it not?
P183: It's not in the rules, just imagine, if my face will show up on the BBC, and then it goes on all channels. It's like a snowball, and in this situation, I can not help but want to remain hidden. If only to protect myself and to be able to walk the streets.
IP: You think your fans will not let you live in peace?
P183: Well, no, it's not them.
IP: Well, do you think that maybe you need a manager already? We are ready to act as such. (Laughs)
P183: It's funny that I now constantly get offers from producers. But I say no guys, I do not give a fuck.
IP: No, but now you have to spend so much time and pay so much attention to these interviews and it could all be left to the producer. In fact it would make things easier for you, so that you have the time to create art. No?
IP: No, no, I will not stoop to be a producer, but can you really think about it now? (Continues laughing).
P183: Well, you're right, I certainly am doing their job. But I think that it is too early to think and talk about it. And, to be honest, I do not even want to think about it. This is like in the saying: "on a ventilator, I need to climb, not talk." Now this is just occupying space in my head. It's extra.
IP: If a London gallery offers good money to do a project, will you go?
P183: Well, the main thing I do not want to replicate and add to the stream. I want to make art that conveys a thought, and is not for the sake of gain. I do not like the scheme in the Banksy film "Exit Through the Gift Shop," where the main character starts to churn out art. I like to express thoughts through work, to make special things that I want, not for a market. I paint canvases at my house a lot and they can be shown in a gallery, why not? We are all people and we all need money to live. The main thing is that I do not want money to be an end in itself. In general, all my life I hated money. I have no ambition to earn crazy amounts. If there was a communist system, which would give me a card to buy food, this would be enough. I am an ascetic. I certainly find today's situation confusing, it is like a walk in an amusement park, trying to take it seriously just does not apply.
We invite you to comment on this topic: What do you think?
P 183: www.183art.ru Articles about P183: The Guardian — Moscow's Banksy: the street art of P183 Daily Mail — Codename Bankski: The 'Russian Banksy' brings guerilla art to Moscow The Telegraph — The Russian Banksy: street artist P183 decorates the streets of Moscow RT TV — Secrecy Surrounds “Russian Banksy"
Huffington Post – Russian Banksy P183 Flavorwire — Is This the Russian Banksy?