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The street artists getting bashed by bishops and bureaucrats

8 June 2017

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

To Málaga, where French street artist ‘Invader’ has invited the wrath of God by placing one of his signature mosaics on the walls of the city’s episcopal palace. The work, which depicts a flamenco dancer, has raised complaints from the diocese of Málaga, which says the prolific artist did not seek the necessary permission to place it on the building. ‘The bishop of Málaga is not questioning the work’s artistic quality,’ the Diocese explained. ‘But he considers that the palace’s facade, which is classified as site of cultural interest and protected [by law], is not an appropriate place for it.’ Church authorities have now asked the city council to remove the mosaic, which they suggest are an act of ‘visual pollution’.

Polluter or not, Invader isn’t the only prolific street artist to have found himself in hot water of late. In Bristol, Banksy has come under fire from the Electoral Commission for a scheme it says could potentially ‘invalidate the election result’. Last week, the veteran wall dauber offered residents of six west of England constituencies an ‘exclusive new print’ on condition that they provided proof that they had voted. But there was a catch:

‘Simply send in a photo of your ballot paper from polling day showing you voted against the Conservative candidate and this complimentary gift will be mailed to you’, read Banksy’s communiqué, adding in the small print that the offer was ‘in no way meant to influence the choices of the electorate’ and the gift had ‘no monetary value’.

Nevertheless, the scheme soon came to the attention of the authorities, who deemed it a breach of the law. ‘It is a criminal offence under the Representation of the People Act 1983 for any voter to accept or agree to accept a gift or similar in return for voting or refraining from voting’, the police announced on Monday, adding that anyone participating in such a scheme would be liable for prosecution. Banksy has since retracted the offer, describing it as ‘ill-conceived and legally dubious’. Rakewell knows a few people who’ve been saying that about his work for years!

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