“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 Guardiancompared 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.

 

Glasses, 2009.

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.

 

Misha Most
Street artist
"The British love their stars, and this is not an article about the Pasha. They needed an excuse to write another article about Banksy. It shows their feeling that "our Banksy is the coolest in the whole world to copy, we must never forget him and must honor our stars" — it is typical PR in the West. Also, it is difficult for them to write an article that is just about Russian street art. The rest of the media just copied the news, even in Russia, without changing the meaning. This is all against the background of current political problems in Russia, which the West loves to savor."

 

This was all followed by a report on Dozhd' which continued to report inaccurate facts about Pasha, while adding ridiculous details and statements:

 

"The style of the artist in Moscow is very similar to that Banksy. He himself emphasizes the continuity, because his second name P183 Bankski. His work has appeared from time to time in different parts of Moscow. Graffiti decorates typical places where street artists work: industrial sites, abandoned buildings, bridges, fences, yards, school grounds and even the subway. We especially liked the one where an ordinary street lamp was converted into huge spectacles painted directly on the snow.His creations are usually short-lived: Moscow authorities and janitors destroy them quickly. A pity, of course. So to see the work of P183 live is quite difficult — only in photographs. We know a bit about the artist. It seems his name is Pavel, he is about 28 years, and studied design in college. Some of his statements are on the Internet, where he talks about how he first decided to do street art when he looked out at the Moscow landscape from the window of a tall building. As snow fell, covering the area in a ​​huge white sheet, it seemed like a great canvas. So he began to create. We are pleased that the art world has paid attention to our artists and actively discuss his work. It's a pity that graffiti culture in Russia has not taken root, so everything, even such talented work is shamelessly destroyed. Let us hope that the situation will change soon."

 


Shuher
Street artist
"They say 'It's a pity' a lot in the text — it is all utter nonsense. I know about the subject (not through hearsay), and therefore cannot resist to comment. You do not need to ascribe to this alias fabricated by British journalists — Bankski — and repeat it. Writing about when he first decided to make street art does not hold water, neither does ranting that in Russia 'the culture of graffiti and did not take root.' We do not have the concept of 'graffiti' as per the definition of 'graffiti', and in any case it does not belong to Pavel, he is a street artist. Banksy is a household name. Like 'Xerox' is the name for paper copies in Russia.

 

Russia Today, in our opinion, provided adequate coverage, but again focused exclusively on the Western audience:

 

 


Make
Activist,
Editor, Partizaning
"We are very pleased about Pasha 183's success and the recognition of his work. The only question is why the local press and the community only noticed a talented artist after the foreign media began to publish a set of cliches about it? Did Muscovites not see value in the work of an artist who has been creating on the streets of their hometown for the last ten years?"

 


Igor Ponosov
Street artist
Editor, Partizaning
"I have known Pasha for more than five years, ever since the publication of his work in my book Objects, and I never connected his work with Banksy. And to be honest, its nothing that I have heard. Pasha's work has always surprised everyone with its seamless originality. Moreover, he never once sought to be promoted, and has always tried to stay underground. He was always afraid of the mainstream, and this precedent is very unsettling for him. I am worried that this 'fame' will further ruin his impression of glory."

 


Tima Radya
Street artist
"I am pleased that this happened. Recognition is long overdue, given that Pasha makes social art and tries to be understandable. Perhaps this is something which can be compared to Banksy. I hope now some new opportunities for Pasha appear, and that the intensity of his work increases. He loves our country, and I do too, but of course we need to work around the world, not just in one city. We are separated, that's all it is — an article in a major international publication about Russia is always an event, a news item. Journalists reported on news about the news, as a copy of a copy by our journalists..."

 

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?

P183: (laughs).

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.

 


Kirill Kto
Street artist
Curator of The Wall Project
"It's a bit of a strange situation, and that we, the street-art community, cannot ignore it and also have something to say about it, is also strange. We would not want to join this sensationalism, because we have known and appreciated Pasha for a long time. I'm interested not in the fact that the media has found it newsworthy to pay attention to street art, but how they perceive street art and how it is an indication of their treatment of the current political situation in the country. Due to the over attention of individual personalities and commentators, our events seem to be more optimistic or more dramatic than they really are. Amid all this, my personal attitude has been to the contrary — to be less politicized than it was a year or two ago. Not that I would become sharply political anyway, but I began to realize that not everything is simple and that it is not enough for people to just walk out into the streets. It is not enough that everyone knows that Putin and his administration are good or bad, and shouting will not help. It takes serious work. In this situation of excessive attention being paid to Pasha, his response should not be to defend only his interests. He is certainly an artist, an individual, with his own history, views, positions. But, he should also defend the interests of the community as a whole. As shown in some of the stories about Pasha, our community is perceived as secondary in relation to the phenomena of the West. He is not talked about as Russian artist P183, but as an analogue of a western artist — and this is not the first time it has happened. This tells us that our journalists are blind or have their own vision and are not doing their job of searching, analyzing and translating about interesting personalities or events. They do not cover the activities of artists, and if they do you can not take it offline, and try to compare it, and adjust it to an existing stereotype. If Pasha is unable, it is still a good idea to delegate and redirect media interest and people willing to cooperate, commercial, ideological or otherwise, in the community as a whole. Because our community, apart for the activities of 3 to 4 people, is unfairly overlooked."

 

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?