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Better Out Than In, New-York, 2013


When: October 2013
Where: The Streets of New York City
On 1 October 2013, Banksy began a one-month “show on the streets of New York,” for which he opened a separate website and Twitter account. Each day of the month in October, he produced one street art piece in a different part of the city. Banksy even provided an audio-guide available on a toll-free number for each work created, as if each of those works were part of a curated exhibit within a museum with audio-guides.


‘In October of 2013, Banksy became Artist in Residence for the City of New York. An honor so prestigious, he made it up and awarded it to himself!’


Better Out Than In – Official Trailer

Better Out Than In seems to be a reference to a quote by the impressionist painter Paul Cezanne:
‘All pictures painted inside, in the studio, will never be as good as those done outside.’
Banksy contacted The Village Voice ahead of the show to explain his ideas and messages about this most ambitious, innovative project. It is also one of the very few Banksy interviews – and most certainly one of his most recent ones.

The Village Voice

An Interview with Banksy
Street Art Cult Hero, International Man of Mystery

By Keegan Hamilton, 9 October 2013
Interview Excerpts
That was the beguiling subject of an e-mail seemingly randomly addressed to the Village Voice in mid-September.
“I represent the artist Banksy,” the message began, “and I would like to talk to you at your earliest convenience.” The name and phone number of a British publicist followed. There were no further details or explanation. It was mysterious and intriguing. The secretive graffiti artist had been silent since last year, when his distinctive stencils appeared in London during the Olympics. Because Banksy rarely grants interviews, the cryptic message also felt like the prelude to an elaborate practical joke.
Banksy was on the verge of unveiling an audacious new project: The artist intended to create one new piece on the streets of New York each day in October, a “unique kind of art show” titled “Better Out Than In.” Billed with the tagline “an artists [sic] residency on the streets of New York,” the show was to include “elaborate graffiti, large scale street sculpture, video installations, and substandard performance art.”
Voice was promised an exclusive interview with Banksy, who “feels an affinity with people who provide quality content for free on street corners.”
On October 1, just as the publicist foretold, Banksy debuted his first work on the streets of New York: a stencil on a building in Chinatown, titled prophetically The Street Is in Play. The work shows two old-fashioned paperboys in overalls and flat caps reaching for a can of spray paint contained in a “Graffiti Is a Crime” warning sign that had previously been affixed to the wall. The sign was promptly stolen and the piece painted over—defaced, then erased in less than 24 hours.
“There is absolutely no reason for doing this show at all. I know street art can feel increasingly like the marketing wing of an art career, so I wanted to make some art without the price tag attached. There’s no gallery show or book or film.
It’s pointless. Which hopefully means something.”
Early pieces were scattered across Lower Manhattan. Following The Street Is in Play, he scrawled a squiggly white tag on a steel shutter door in Chelsea that read, “This is my New York accent,” with the words “. . . Normally I write like this” underneath in plainer text. On October 3 in Midtown, he stenciled a dog urinating on a fire hydrant which had a thought balloon reading, “You complete me . . .” The following day saw a triptych of sorts: existing tags in Brooklyn that read “Playground Mob,”Occupy,” and “Dirty Underwear,” to which Banksy added the identical script-stenciled tagline “The Musical.
The fleeting, temporal nature of Banksy’s art is part of its appeal. A new piece each day in New York “turns the city into a giant game of treasure hunt.” Each work is a precious commodity that can and almost certainly will disappear within hours. Banksy wants them to be discovered in alleys next to dumpsters, not displayed in a sterile museum.
The more permanent element of the works—and the part that helps to confirm their authenticity—is an accompanying toll-free phone number that dials an “audio guide” created by Banksy. The first recording features cheesy elevator music and a stoned-sounding narrator welcoming listeners to Lower Manhattan. The male voice casually warns that the work has “probably been painted over,” and informs listeners, “You’re looking at a type of picture called ‘graffiti,’ from the Latin ‘graffito,’ which means ‘graffiti’ with an O.”
The audio clip continues Banksy’s tradition of wagging a playful middle finger at the mainstream art world, in this case even slyly mocking fans who care to track down his work. Listeners are presumably hearing the spiel while standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk, rather than a wing of MOMA or the Met.
“The audio guide started as a cheap joke and, to be honest, that’s how it’s continued, but I’m starting to see more potential in it now”
“I like how it controls the time you spend looking at an image. I read that researchers at a big museum in London found the average person looked at a painting for eight seconds. So if you put your art at a stoplight you’re already getting better numbers than Rembrandt.”
Banksy’s repertoire is not limited to graffiti in the traditional sense of the term. On October 5 in the East Village, he rolled out a grimy, tagged-up 1992 GMC delivery truck with a sculpture installed inside. A virtual paradise, the piece included (as the audio guide describes over the tinkling sound of Hawaiian steel guitar) “a digitally remastered sunset that never sets, a waterfall pumping over 22 gallons of water a minute, and some plastic butterflies duct-taped over a fan that move around a bit.”
Banksy also reveals concerns about his ongoing struggle to strike a balance between commercial success and artistic integrity. He hints at the possibility of abandoning galleries entirely and permanently returning to his roots as a street artist.
“I started painting on the street because it was the only venue that would give me a show,” he writes. “Now I have to keep painting on the street to prove to myself it wasn’t a cynical plan. Plus it saves money on having to buy canvases.
“But there’s no way round it—commercial success is a mark of failure for a graffiti artist. We’re not supposed to be embraced in that way. When you look at how society rewards so many of the wrong people, it’s hard not to view financial reimbursement as a badge of self-serving mediocrity.”

Day #1

The Street Is In Play

The mural incorporates Banksy’s distinctive stencil technique and pokes fun at the law by incorporating an anti-graffiti sign. However, within hours of it being posted on Banksy’s Instagram profile, the sign which played an integral part of the piece, had been stolen. By the next day, city officials had painted over the work.

Day #2

This Is My New-York Accent

Day #3

You Complete Me

On Day 3, Banksy dropped a new stenciled piece near 24th & 6th street illustrating the ongoing relationship between a dog and a fire hydrant…
“All I ever wanted is a shoulder to crayon.”


Day #4

The Musical
Delancey, Bushwick, Williamsburg

Random graffiti given a Broadway makeover
(an ongoing series)
On Day 4, Banksy created an ongoing series of works titled “Random graffiti given a Broadway makeover”. Another humorous twist: adding a flashy “The Musical” under any random graffiti around the city, and it becomes a Broadway’s musical drama…
The artist may be commenting on the superficial way our society tends to look at social or political issues. This becomes even more relevant in New-York, which is also well-known all over the world for its musical theater…


Day #4

Moving Waterfall

A New York delivery truck converted into a mobile garden (includes rainbow, waterfall and butterflies)

On Saturday 5 October, Banksy surprised again with the most innovative and witty art installation. He converted a New York City delivery truck into a mobile garden, complete with a rainbow, waterfall (with real water flowing into a pool), bridge and butterflies.
From the front and sides, the white truck looks like a graffiti tagged mess. But, when one looks at the back of the truck, the viewer gets projected into a beautifully immersive, three-dimensional oasis. “Moving Waterfall” was one of the early pieces of the “Better Out Than In” show, and it also seems to be one of the most complicated – at least from a production standpoint, considering it involves a fully working waterfall that travels around the city in the cargo area of a delivery truck.

As the truck travels around the city, so too does its functional waterfall, butterflies, and rainbow. Each night of the exhibition, the truck stops at a different, difficult-to-predict location, such as the East Village Meat Market.

Day #6


On Sunday 6 October, Banksy posted a video to his website. Rebel Rocket Attack shows a pair of insurgents wearing turbans, and firing a surface-to-air missile from a bazooka-like tube. Their rocket launches into the sky with a streak of gray smoke. The fighters shout, “Allah Akbar!” as their target plummets toward the ground: Dumbo the flying elephant. The animated Disney character crumples into a smoking heap. A child appears, approaches the dying cartoon, contemplates the scene, then turns and kicks the man with the rocket launcher in the shin.
The following statement from Banksy was released along with the video:
“I’m not posting any pictures today. Not after this shocking footage has emerged.”

Rebel Rocket Attack

Credit: Banksyblog
Banksy also released a screen-print on paper, mostly black and white, save for Dumbo’s corn-yellow watercolor hat. Dumbo was never released to the public.
Dumbo, 2014
Edition: 25, 10 of which were signed
Dumbo, the iconic elephant created by Disney, is an example of the American cultural export – perhaps serving as a metaphor for American planes sent to the Middle East in order to fight the Islamic extremists. Banksy also demonstrates how easy it is to create propaganda videos that people might interpret as “real” or “true.”

Day #7

Love Hurts


“Love Hurts is obviously an iconic representation of the battle to survive a broken heart. It’s an uplifting visual poem to that most fragile of human emotions that seem to move within us as if on a soft breeze”.

Love, or the lack thereof, is a theme that Banksy has explored often and revisited frequently throughout his career.
As suggested by its title, this work evokes the power of love to inflict hurt and anguish as well as joy and pleasure. The fragility and vulnerability of human emotion is represented in the allegory of the balloon, which can be easily pierced and deflated. Conversely, the balloon also possesses the innate desire to break free and rise above its constraints and defy gravity – a natural resiliency. While at first glance the work appears straightforward, it in fact carries a poignant message.

Day #8

Plato Quote

Day #9

Crazy Horses Riding Through The Lower East Side to a Wikileaks Soundtrack

This installation is most probably the most political and innovative piece created by Banksy during his New York residency. It presents a complex visual dynamic with armed men in gun sights, horses wearing night vision goggles, together with a free phone number to hear the audio of an air strike.
Crazy Horses Riding Through The Lower East Side to a Wikileaks Soundtrack
159 Ludlow Street, between Stanton and Rivington Street, New York
A distinguishing feature of this new piece is that no part of it is actually on a wall: it is rendered on the sides of an abandoned car and adjacent truck, adding impressive visual depth.
But the real strength of this work resides in the accompanying audio…
The 1-800 number takes the caller to a 39-minute recording of a 2007 airstrike in Baghdad.
The listener can clearly hear the racket of gun turrets and radio communications between soldiers killing civilians.
The cut comes from the infamous Collateral Murder video released to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning in 2010. The 17-minute horror show depicts the killing of children and civilians who were to rescue wounded Iraqi combatants by U.S. soldiers. The sound taken for the Banksy piece comes from around the 12-minute mark of that video.

Day #10


Day #11

Sirens of the Lambs

In the 11th work of his Better Out Than In residency on the streets of New York, Banksy took over a “Farm Fresh Meats Inc” truck to create an installation entitled Sirens of the Lambs.
A slaughterhouse delivery truck is carrying 60 stuffed animals (cows, chickens, pigs, lambs, pandas, etc.) who are seen moving their heads through wooden slats. The animals can also be heard squealing and banging their head against the slats. Sirens of the Lambs toured the streets of New York for two weeks.

“This is a piece of sculpture art, and I know what you’re thinking,
‘Isn’t it a bit subtle?”


“The truck contains over 60 cuddly soft toys on the road to a swift death. However, in order to bring them to life, four professional puppeteers are required, strapped into bucket seats, dressed entirely in black lycra, pulling on an array of levers with each limb and given only one toilet break a day – proving that the only sentient beings held in lower esteem than livestock are mime artists.”

Day #12

Concrete Confessional

Day #13

Central Park Booth

A pop-up boutique of about 25 spray-art canvases appeared on Fifth Avenue near Central Park on 12 October. Tourists had the opportunity to buy authentic Banksy art for just $60 each.

Credit: Banksyblog
The booth was manned by an unknown, elderly man who went about four hours before making a sale, yawning and eating lunch as people strolled by without a second glance at the work. Of course, people only learned the pieces were authentic after the “experiment” or sorts had concluded – and only eight sales were made in that time frame. In a note posted to his website after the sale, the artist wrote: Please note this was a one-off. The stall will not be there again.”

Day #14

What we do in life echoes in Eternity

Some people criticize me for using sources that are a bit low brow (this quote is from ‘Gladiator’) but you know what? “I’m just going to use that hostility to make me stronger, not weaker” as Kelly Rowland said on the X Factor.

Day #15

Twin Towers

On day 15, Banksy pays his respects to the victims and all those affected by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Towers. In this work, Banksy shows the iconic towers standing proudly among the New York skyline. In one of the towers, he placed a flower where the airplane used to change the course of history struck the building to offer hope, and perhaps suggest that something beautiful might come from (or more literally, grow from) the tragedy. The terrorist attack, forever etched into the memories of people around the world, served as a particularly unifying moment for not only New Yorkers, or Americans in general – but for much of the world. 
In the days and years since the horrific attack, Banksy hopes that we might remember that we are all more similar than dissimilar to each other, and that the empathy and compassion we showed each other in the wake of the tragedy should be afforded not only after horrific events. Banksy is notoriously anti-war and anti-violence, and his call here for more love, fairness, understanding, and compassion are beautifully shared with the world.

Day #16


A fiberglass replica of Ronald McDonald having his shoes shined by a real live boy. The sculpture visited the sidewalk outside a different McDonalds every lunchtime for a week. The boy looks downtrodden, dirty, and tired while wearing tattered clothing as Ronald McDonald looks down in a disapproving manner with one hand on his hip.
The audio guide on the artist’s website said Banksy created the artwork – whose face is that of Praxiteles’ bust of the Greek God Hermes – with the help of fellow artists.
It went on to discuss the inspiration behind the piece, saying: “Ronald was adopted as the official mascot of the McDonald’s fast food corporation chain in 1966.

“Fiberglass versions of his likeness have been installed outside restaurants ever since, thus making Ronald arguably the most sculpted figure in history after Christ.”


Audio-Guide for McDonald’s Banksy sculpture

“A critique of the heavy labor required to sustain the polished image of a mega-corporation.”

“Is Ronald’s statuesque pose indicative of how corporations have become the historical figures of our era? Does this figure have feet of clay and a massively large footprint to boot?”



Day #17

Japanese Bridge

“I don’t read what I believe in the papers.”

Day #18

Collaboration with Os Gemeos

Are you the sort of person who enjoys going to art galleries but wished they had more gravel in them? Then this temporary exhibition space is for you. Housing just two paintings but also featuring a bench, some carpet and complimentary refreshments.


People ask why I want to have an exhibition in the streets, but have you been to an art gallery recently? They’re full. Contrary to reports on fox news this space was kindly donated for free by the owner.

Day #19

Ants, Staten Island

Day #20

Hammer Boy

Hammer Boy depicts a boy holding a hammer, in the process of striking a red fire hydrant, which has a pipe coming up through the top leading to the fire alarm.
Upon closer examination, the viewer notices that the hammer is quite similar to the high striker carnival game hammer. The pipe extending upwards from the fire extinguisher then forms part of a “high striker” or “strength tester” that one can find in street carnival games. The different “point levels” are the signs next to the pole which read “Siamese connection for the fire dept.” and “Sprinklers throughout building”.
Hammer Boy appeared on the outer wall of a DSW on 79th street and Broadway, on Upper West Side in Manhattan. This mural is a perfect example of a site specific work in which the artist has repurposed some basic and ugly urban pipes and signs into an artwork which becomes part of the urban landscape. Indeed some city spaces are not restricted to their prescribed use, and objects can be elevated to the aesthetics of art and be fun for the viewer.
The owner of the wall placed a glass case on the mural to protect it and preserve it, further adding to its standing as an artwork rather than graffiti. Additionally, Banksy’s name and fame gives the painting justification as street art, elevating it from other graffiti.

Day #21

Ghetto Life

Ghetto For Life appeared in South Bronx, New-York, on October 22. This typical Banksy mural portrays a young boy working on a graffiti slogan saying “Ghetto 4 Life”. The striking part of the visual is the way this young boy is dressed, which does not appear consistent with what one thinks a young boy from the ghetto would dress, and on top of that, it seems he is accompanied with a butler ready to serve some kind of refreshments.
Maybe more than any other mural, it ignited a vivid debate over the word “Ghetto.” As always the case with Banksy, the location is big part of the message – as this mural appeared in South Bronx, and it provoked strong reaction from locals. Sustainable South Bronx may have sold t-shirts that say “Green the ghetto,” and others who live or work in the South Bronx may sometimes refer to their neighborhoods as “the ghetto” but many didn’t like hearing that word from a white artist with no Bronx roots.
“When a white, billionaire British person like Banksy says ‘ghetto,’ it can sound offensive because it is associated with people of color, so he should have been more careful with the choice of words because the context changes the meaning” said Jeffrey Guard, director of The Bronx Art Exchange, an organization that promotes art in the area.
“Overall I think it is a great piece” said How, who along with his twin brother Nosm, is a member of Tats Cru, which is based in Hunts Point. “It is a powerful, critical yet satirical take to bring attention to the life of the so-called ‘minority’ neighborhoods, he said. “Banksy smartly provokes and so he creates a dialogue among his followers.”
Justin Dapena, a college student who spent some time staring at the mural, said he thought that sometimes a foreigner sees reality in a different way from locals. “Banksy came here, and he saw a ghetto” he said. “Why make a big deal out of it? His mural doesn’t have to be ‘the’ truth. It is ‘his’ truth and that’s why I like the piece.”
As they looked at the painting, high school students said they do live in a “ghetto,” but not the ghetto portrayed by Banksy. “Caucasian people think that a ‘ghetto’ is a dirty place, with low class criminals,” said Robinson, “but, for me, the ghetto is my home: it is not negative; it is part of who we are.”

Day #22


No turn unstoned.
A 1/36 scale replica of the great Sphinx of Giza
made from smashed cinderblocks.
You’re advised not to drink the replica Arab spring water

Day #23


Day #24

Waiting in Vain

Banksy dropped Waiting in Vain on Larry Flynt’s NY Hustler Club & Cigar Lounge at 641 West 51st St. It depicts a man waiting with red fading flowers.
This work depicts a man seemingly patiently waiting for his date. He carries a bouquet of flowers, it seems he has been waiting for a while as one can notice some petals falling down as the flowers die. Again, the location of the piece adds to its “patina” as Banksy chose to execute this work on a strip club.
After a day off due to “police activity,” Banksy is back putting up this interesting piece on the side of the Hustler Club in Hell’s Kitchen. Banksy posted a caption along with a picture of the stencil on his website, suggesting this man would be in the wrong place if he wants to find genuine love.

‘Waiting in vain…at the door of the club.’

At least this stencil of a lonely man won’t spend a minute alone today.

Day #25


Day #26

The Grumpier You Are

Alternative New York bumper slogan

Day #27

This site contains blocked messages

Today’s piece was going to be an op-ed column in the New York Times.
But they declined to publish what I supplied. Which was this…

Day #28

Tagging Robot

Day #29

The Banality of the Banality of Evil

A thrift store painting vandalized then re-donated to the thrift store.

Day #30

Yankee Stadium

Day #31

Banksy Inflatable Throw-up

An inflatable throw-up on the Long Island Expressway

Official Banksy New York Residency T-shirt

Now available the official Banksy New York residency souvenir T shirt

(you have to take the jpeg to a copy store and make it yourself)