Is Banksy Overrated? Some Street Artists Seem to Think So

Every time when someone mentions even the slightest interest in street art, you can bet that the name of Banksy will also be mentioned within the next two minutes or so. Most of these times, it will be the first name that comes up from the world of street artists, especially with people who admire the field from a distance and aren’t really all that immersed into it. But while it’s easier to remember particular works than names – especially if you’ve seen the works firsthand or if they feature a topic or a reference you like – it’s still easy to remember the name of Banksy.

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I don’t know exactly what makes it so. Perhaps it’s his fame in the first place, perhaps it’s the elusive air of a concealed identity that contributed to the myth building and now he’s such a myth in the scene that we don’t really care or remember how it was before the Banksy craze even started. (For those of you which might be appalled of the go-to assumption of gender, please take note that there have been a few seemingly legit interviews with the artist and while he still withheld any identification details, he confirmed to be a man.) The concealed identity and the somewhat subversive message of his art – even more subversive than street art is in itself – definitely contributed to the image of a modern day Robin Hood patrolling the cities and symbolically sticking it to the man. Perhaps that is the main reason for which Banksy has become such a huge favorite. But could it be that his days of glory have passed? Is Banksy overrated? Let’s see what recent street art trends seem to indicate.

One of the nicest recent moves related to street art, which we also covered here, is transforming street art works into GIFs. This way, the merger of street art with the other relevant field of today, which is digital culture and digital art, can be complete. Our post about it also featured an awesome Tumblr account which focuses only on Banksy’s works and transforms them into ingenious and creative GIFs, almost like breathing new life into them. Therefore, we can assume that the artist is definitely still relevant at least to one insider of the street art culture, if we only count the maker of the GIFs and not his many fans as well.

But in spite of this rather distinguishable exception, the general impression is still that most people who are in the know about street art consider Banksy overrated and a bit passé. He seems to remain a cult hero or a name to drop for extra points only for those of us who are really completely outside about street art in general and have only recently come to terms with the fact that graffiti is not vandalism. As for the street artists themselves who are the most likely to predict trends and reflect the general feeling in the field, the number of those who consider Banksy overrated seems to be on the rise.

Little mischief acts like this one are becoming more and more frequent, in spite of the fact that his works are not protected by the law. In the eyes of many street art enthusiasts, perhaps that is just one more detail that makes Banksy overrated and no longer relevant, since the main purpose of street art should be, theoretically, to defy the space it will adorn. When the art itself becomes protected by law and its altering constitutes an instance of vandalism, it kind of lost its mojo, wouldn’t you say?

A Refreshing Idea: GIFs made from Street Art

There is more to the world of street art than Banksy’s works, and our street art section here strives to continuously prove it. One of the best things about street art, as I’m sure many of its fellow fans will agree, is the way in which it integrates a social message into its literal, esthetic form. No longer was art something for the elites, something abstract and often hard to decode; the moment art descended into the streets, it became a fun and quirky and emotional way of getting a message across loud and clear. It is a form of art which is made by the masses for the masses.

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Of course, a street artist isn’t really an average person in terms of skill and talent and training and means, as it takes years and hard work to be able to get that good. (Except for stencils which are way easier to produce if you have a neat idea and some basic know-how.) But in spite of the artist’s exceptionality, he or she usually does not dissociate from the general population as far as feelings go. As a general rule of thumb, upon admiring a piece of street art, you always feel that it is made by a son or daughter of “the people”, as corny and cliché as that might sound. Perhaps the air of defying something – as street art is still theoretically forbidden and viewed as vandalism in many parts of the world and many areas of most cities – contributes to the social meaning and the feeling of togetherness with the whole of us. In any case, street art is always imbued with a higher social meaning than most classic art, and it always keeps up with the trends and realities of everyday life, by playing with some of the common places in popular culture and so on.

Digital culture was, until recently, something approached by street art only by attempting to imitate pixels or make references to outdated computer games or characters which most adults would be nostalgic for today (like Mario or Pac-Man, for instance). But a more recent trend has taken the fusion of street art with the digital world even further, creating something even more expressive than the regular version of street art. Making GIFs out of street art is the next best thing, and various sources all over the great wide web are doing it with various degrees of creativity and success. There are a few hubs where you can find street art gifs centralized and even grouped into themes.

For example, you can find a Tumblr blog entirely dedicated to Banksy’s works made into gifs here. The person behind the ABVH nickname is unmistakably putting in a lot of his own work and time and skill to create these animated and improved versions of Bansky’s creations. Therefore, it is quite debatable if we’re not talking about an artistic act in itself here with the GIF-making. That’s the great thing about both street art and digital culture: the usual boundaries and borders and blurred, inspiration can be taken from anywhere and the art itself belongs to everybody.

Another great example is this French site of animated graffiti art, which produces and publishes results best described as psychedelic. Not as socially charged as our previous example, but still visually compelling and fascinating nonetheless. After browsing these two suggestions, don’t stop here, by all means. We only included two for the sake of not writing a too lengthy post, but the internet is full of wonderful examples of street art gone digital into awesome gifs. Have fun browsing and drop us a line to tell us what you think of this trend.

There Will Be a Female Version of Thor Soon

Fans of comics and of superhero movies, prepare for something which will blow your mind in the near future: Thor has been announced to switch gender pretty soon. The decision has been made as part of an effort to bring credible female role models into the world of comics and superheroes, and we can be nothing but excited by the decision to promote stronger female characters. But the most interesting and intriguing detail about this upcoming change is its narrative twist, which is announced to be more than a “what if Thor was a female?” exercise of imagination. No, the story will not simply be a saga of the Northern god in his feminine version, but it will involve actual change, most probably by a female secondary character picking up the hammer of Thor after his retirement, thus sparking her transformation.

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According to Marvel, the classic Thunder God will no longer be able to wield his mighty hammer, which is why the future heroine will step in his shoes and become an awesome female version of Thor. This change is already being written for comics by Jason Aaron, and Marvel has also confirmed that the new character will eventually be featured in a new Thor movie as well. We already have a few great actresses in mind for the part and we’re super excited about the moment, but our appetite will probably first be sated with a few comics releases before we can see the first movie trailer.

The old female version of Thor

There was an older attempt to feminize the Northern God in the Marvel universe, under the form of Thor Girl (born sometime in 2000 and only present in some not that mainstream editions of comics). But that character should be seen as something closer to a classic sidekick than a proper and full-fledged female version of Thor. Named Terene, the girl first gains the help of Thor and Orikan to fight for her destroyed homeland, and later manages to evolve into an Asgardian goddess herself and fight by Thor’s side as his helper. She then takes the name “Thor Girl” as a means of gratitude to him, and continues to basically play the sidekick. The upcoming female Thor will actually involve a complete transfer of power and identity from the old Thor to his new feminine counterpart.

Things we’re excited about with the upcoming change

Well, first of all, this isn’t the only upcoming change meant to create a stronger move within the Marvel universe. Other news report that the female version of Thor will be just part of the shifts, alongside similar shocking changes to the identities of Captain America and Iron Man. Although strong changes always risk alienating some of the fans, we can’t help feeling excited and curious about what’s to come.

Another thing we’re excited about is, of course, the awesomeness of the kick-ass actress who will get to play the part in the movie set to come out eventually. Although we’ve recently berated the movie Lucy (2014) for different reasons, there are few things we enjoy more than a badass female character setting the world straight. We’d also really like to see some romance where the godly action hero is the feminine element of the couple, and the man she becomes involved with does not feel threatened by her awesomeness. That’s one of the main points of such a feminist shift of story, right?

One of the things we’re less excited about is watching Chris Hemsworth leave the role, but we hope the character retires into having lots of gorgeous babies and living happily ever after with his lady mad scientist played by Natalie Portman. And as long as Loki played by Tom Hiddleston remains very much present in the story, we are definitely not complaining, if you know what we mean. All in all, we can’t wait to find out more about the female version of Thor, even if it’s just in the comics at first.

8 Traveling to Turkey as a Woman Tips

Sometimes visiting countries that belong to other religions, and therefore other cultures, can turn into an inter-galactic experience. Especially if you are a woman. Since you cannot go there unprepared, because you’ll be laughed at immediately, here are 8 travelling to turkey as a woman tips for safe holidays. Turkish people love socializing, and Turkish merchants love to negotiate. So keep your smiles on the face where everybody can see them, and get ready for the most useful surviving Turkey tips.

1.   Don’t wear a mini skirt and a cleavage when visiting their mosks

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They are very religious, and their mosks are their most sacred territory. You cannot go in there dressed like a trendy American or European. It is disrespectful. They not only take their shoes off when they go into a mosk to pray, but they are absolutely silent and humble in front of their mighty Allah. They keep their women covered from head to toe, so don’t defy them in a western-world-manner, even though you may find their tradition ridiculous.

2.   If you are travelling with a guy, and he’s talking to a Turkish man, don’t try integrating yourself into their conversation. Chances of success are minimal.

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Turkish men believe women aren’t men’s equals. Not physically, nor intellectually. So when 2 men are having a serious conversation, there’s no place for a woman there. It’s as if they’ve unconsciously trained their ears not to hear feminine opinion. So don’t take it personally if this happens to you.

3.   Don’t smoke, even if men are doing it near you. You’ll be taken as a prostitute in a tick.

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No faithful Muslim is allowed to smoke. Well Christians aren’t allowed either, but this is another thing. Well a woman with a cigarette is the least appealing thing for a Turkish man. Moreover you are likely to be confused with a prostitute, as their smoking is sometimes used as a clue.

4.   Wear a sponge bra

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Well this one is self-explanatory. Just do it!

5.   Short hair will make a women feel just like a zoo monkey

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Long hair is a symbol o feminity and therefore a woman should never have her hair cut. Well they’ll probably think you’re sick or something

6.   If it’s the Ramadan, try to avoid eating delicious things like chocolate on the streets. Most of the Turkish are very faithful to Allah and have to abstain from any kind of food until sunset as long as the celebration lasts.

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The Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims worldwide fast all day long, every day of the month. This name stands for scorching heat or dryness.

7.   If you see a group of Turkish men drinking tea in the shade, don’t go over there, expecting to be served one as well. You’ll not be respected for that.

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Women have their own universe that seldom cuts across men’s interests. They are mainly housewives and their husbands tend to spend their free time far from them.

8.   If a Turkish guy claims to know you from a “discussion” you apparently had a few hours ago, don’t bite it. He probably wants to clench you to go to his restaurant.

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They are very dedicated to promoting their business. They are born merchants, so it’s basically in their blood to attract every person they see on the street They are also pretty inventive, and their making up all sorts of stories to get you to listen to them is far from being out of their league.  This might be annoying at first, but once you get used to their way of being, you’ll fall in love with their disclosure and love for commerce.

8-1 Stairways to Heaven

Stairs have a particular vibe. There’s something about where they lead to, or what they connect, or just how they appear. Stairs are cool, indeed. We simply love them. So here they are: 8-1 stairways to Heaven from around the world.

Some of them are nature-built, some of them are man-made, but they simply represent a symbol of both nature’s friendly invites, as well as man’s incredible conquest abilities.

#1. Scala (Rainbow Staircase), Wuppertal, Germany

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Artist Horst Gläsker took a dull staircase built in between two buildings in the town of Wuppertal and turned it into a rainbow of colors, transforming an eyesore into a bright, energetic spot. He named the 112-step artwork Scala, which stands for “staircase” in Italian, and enhanced it with stencils of German words that refer to human relationship manifestations, such as love, sympathy, and dance.

# 2. Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico

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Built by non-conformist English poet Edward James in 1962, this is actually a surrealist garden sculpture that took more than two decades to complete and covers 80-plus acres of Mexican jungle. This modern structure, called Stairway to the Sky, it’s actually a winding staircase one can climb up, but it leads nowhere.

# 3. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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This is a sheer example of Latin vividness. Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón, who began renovating the destroyed steps in 1990 created the famous steps. Choosing to paint the stairs in the bright colors of blue, green and yellow, his simple task soon turned into his greatest artistic passion. The staircase has 250 steps and is covered in tiles collected from countries around the world. This piece of art runs from Rua Joaquim Silva and Rua Pinto Martins, and covers both the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods.

# 4. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, San Francisco, CA

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This tile steps project was conceived and made by Irish ceramicist Aileen Barr and local San Francisco artist, Collette Crutcher. Having over 163 steps, the entire creation process took more than two and a half years to complete mostly because it required helpful actions from the local community to raise necessary funds. Their hard work eventually paid off, as the project was unveiled in August 2005. This public masterpiece is located at 16th Avenue and Moraga in the quiet neighborhood of Golden Gate Heights.

# 5. Heaven’s Gate Mountain, Zhangjiajie City, China

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Visitors to this mountain in China must first take a cable car that lifts them thousands of feet in the air or hop on an apparently dangerous bus ride that goes along a very narrow mountain road filled with countless twists and turns. Once the base of the gaping hole is reached, there are exactly 999 steps leading up to a temple. The latest touristic addition to the mountain is the “sky walk”, which allows tourists to look down at the massive hole below them through a clear glass floor.

# 6. Suspended Bridge over the Traversinertobel, Via Mala, Switzerland

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The Traversinertobel Bridge swings more than 200 feet above the valley of Via Mala. Designed by engineer and architect Jürg Conzett along with Rolf Bachofner, the Traversinertobel solved the question of how to connect two gorges with varying elevations. Before the modern staircase, hikers had to cross from one side to the other with a rope bridge that was destroyed during a rockslide. This suspended footbridge spans a distance of 2,214 inches, with a difference in height of 867 inches between the two ends.

# 7. Taihang Mountains, provinces of Shanxi and Henan, China

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This spiral staircase is about 3.937 inch high, and was recently installed in an attempt to attract tourists to the beautiful Taihang Mountains. Before making the ascent, visitors are asked to sign forms to ensure they do not have heart or lung problems, and are under age 60. And a slip on the narrow metal ladder can certainly lead to disaster.

# 8-1. Staircase to Nowhere, Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA

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Let’s finish with the creepiest one of them all, a wooden staircase that also leads nowhere, but due to strange reasons. Haunted by spirits, widow Sarah Winchester apparently built a beautiful Victorian mansion that has a lot of strange elements, but the most curious may be the staircase that dead-ends in the ceiling. Some speculate that Mrs. Winchester chose this baffling design to confuse evil spirits and throw them off her track.