Banksy's new project may be a step back from graffiti, but the artist is true to form in his new Channel 4 special, Antics Roadshow, in his celebration of hijinks in general.
The program, which aired Saturday on TV sets across the UK, is a tongue-in-cheek look at the recent history of public pranks, and its inspiration was simple. In a statement on Channel 4's website, Banksy admitted, "Basically I just thought it was a good name for a TV programme and I've been working back from there."
Watch the first segment below. Story continues after the video.
The pranks don't always have the same spirit of provocation as Banksy's own work. The more political pranks, such as those from Russian performance art group Voina, are balanced by the man-in-a-kangaroo-suit shenanigans of French prankster Rémi Gaillard.
Banksy's own favorite antic, the disruption of spaces, is well-represented in the program. Michael Fagan, who broke into Queen Elizabeth II's bedroom, and Aaron Barschak, who sneaked into Prince William's 21st birthday celebration, are the poster-children for this ethic of intrusion.
One particularly fascinating aspect of the program is the variety of the authorities' responses to pranks. Barschak was intimidated by a member of Prince William's private guard, while Fagan was served a scotch. The latter would describe the Buckingham Palace guards who apprehended him thus: "they looked in a state of shock, I felt quite sorry for them really."
It's difficult not to draw parallels between guerilla artwork and more traditional pranks. The law may forbid public disturbance, but things aren't so cut and dry when it's clear that an artist or prankster means no harm. These 'antics,' which may alarm us at first, soon get a laugh, and sometimes even a second thought.
But is the Antics Roadshow Banksy's attempt to encourage urban pranksters to push themselves, to create even more challenging, disruptive pieces and elevate the form away from mere humor? It's hard to say. Banksy may just love watching celebrities get pied in the face.