The Banksy Job

 

As pervasive as he is elusive, Banksy is a global enigma that incites a lot of #feels among everyone familiar with his artwork—from fans to the police. But in 2004, the clandestine artist pissed off one supporter in particular: Andy Link, a former porn star who now goes by AK47 and heads up an “art terrorist organization” called Art Kieda. The story goes that Link wanted a signed Banksy print at an event, but didn’t want to cough up the extra dough. Link asked Banksy to sign his standard edition, to which the Dismaland artist refused. The fact he wouldn’t sign his “fucking print” both infuriated and inspired Link, who decided to reciprocate the message by stealing Banksy’s statue, The Drinker.

The convoluted saga—which includes ransom letters, another heist and a replica of the original—has been unraveled in the gonzo-style documentary, The Banksy Job, which recently debuted at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. With so much turmoil happening in the flick, we asked British director Dylan Harvey (who co-created the film with Ian Roderick Gray) to tell us a little more about its origins.
 
It seems like you were involved in filming the heist from Day 1, so how did this project initially develop or how did you get involved in filming so early on?
 
Actually the heist happened about five years before we even got to hear about it. We just met a mad man calling himself AK47 who explained his story, showed us the videos he had shot himself over the years and notified us about where he is intending to go next with his venture. When we came in, all he had was a cone and a hard drive of footage and a certificate from the police.
 
Are you into street art or was making this film more about highlighting the characters? 
 
I have always been interested in street art and Banksy. Spending many years living in East London it was all around me all the time and I saw it develop and grow. I loved it all as a form of dissent, but that alone is not enough to make a movie. It was meeting AK47 and finding out his story that gave us the opportunity to make a heist movie (that is also a documentary and a comedy).
 
AK47 seems like a legitimate lunatic. Was it difficult to work with him? 
 
Yes and no. He is what you see on the screen so at times he could be extremely difficult, especially when trying to make the logistics work out, but at the same time he was very keen to get his story out there and once he recognized how were were going about telling his story and understood the scale of what we were doing, he was very compliant and also went above and beyond in trying to help us get the extra access and help where we needed it.
 

Is that the real Banksy that’s featured in the film? 
 
Maybe. I guess we will never really know for sure.
 
Do you think Pest Control will ever authenticate the replica piece? 
 
They would have to find it first as it has disappeared! But no. I don’t think they ever would. They would feel that they would be setting a precedent by legitimizing a street work that wasn’t actually made by Banksy anyway. But I also think that there is a personal thing to all this. They hate AK47.
 
Has Banksy commented on the film?
 
Perhaps to his friends, certainly not to me. One thing that some people who are apparently close to him did say was that the only way he could be truly pissed off is if we ended up making a shit film, which is for him to decide, not us.
 
—Karen Day

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