The striking image of a lynched Klansman on the wall of an abandoned gas station outside of Birmingham, AL certainly did what a good piece of art is supposed to do. Provoke thought and discussion.
Below is a link to an article in the Birmingam Weekly that covers that short 36 hour window that the Banksy Klansman hung from a rope, legs limp on the wall of an abandoned weed strewn gas station along I-59 in the deep south.
It is a shame that the piece did not last longer, but I can see where townsfolk would be uneasy about this in their locale. As a fan of street art there is still more to this story that I want to know about. The piece was spraypainted black before the piece of wall was physically moved. Was it done by the same people? And was it removed right after it was painted over? Does it still exist is some form?
And the big question is.... I'm sure at this point whomever removed it/defaced it must be more aware of Banksy's fame at this point, and I am confident that this peice could have fetched upwards of $75,000 at auction if it was removed without being destroyed.
*Update* Might have answered my own question as this was posted on banksyforum:
I went down to Birmingham from Nashville Monday night to check this out…it’s not everyday something like this is happens so close. Got to the site around 11:30pm (not a good idea in that neighborhood that late!) only to discover that the piece had just been painted over. The paint was still drying...I was gutted.
So...we went back Tuesday morning to get a better look. We ended up sticking around for pretty much the entire afternoon. There was a steady flow of the people in the neighborhood stopping by to check it out as well as those tipped off by sites like this. It was really amazing to see the range of responses that this piece evoked. Some people saw it as death to racism…other just saw it as hate. As one local said...”Hate breeds hate”…it didn’t matter to him who was hanging from the noose…all he saw was hate. Overall…it really sparked some great conversations between people who probably never would have stopped to talk if it weren't for this piece. Love it or hate it...I think the piece did it's job.
While we were there...we had started talking to and older African-American man who ended up being the property owner. He had seen the image the day before and had come back to take video of the place – only to find it painted over. He understood the painting and appreciated the quality of work...but he had no idea what he was dealing with...so I got to fill him in and explain why so many people were coming by to take pictures.
Long story short...in an effort to protect this image from further damage or from disappearing altogether...I told him he might want to take the piece down himself. Not sure if I'll get some flack for that on this site...but I thought it was the right thing to do. So…my friend and I ended hanging out with this amazing gentleman for the day and helped him remove the work. He did let us each keep one of the blank grey panels…so I guess I can say I own an original Banksy! HA!
Anyways…I told him I told him I’d help out and try to get an idea of what something like this could fetch if being sold. Any feedback would be great! I’d also be curious to know if anyone thinks there is any restoration that can be done. I'm not thinking there is...but I thought I'd ask.
Banksy Tags Birmingham