Banksy Bails Out Russian Artists, Is Becoming Modern-Day Folk Hero

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Mysterious British street artist Banksy just bailed out of jail two members of a Russian art collective called Voina, which means "war." Leonid Nikolayev and Oleg Vorotnikov awaited trial in a bed bug-infested St. Petersburg prison for four months until Banksy swooped in and paid their bail. Voina is known for stunts like painting a huge penis on a bridge facing the headquarters of the KGB's replacement, the Federal Security Service.

The two artists were arrested for overturning police cars in St. Petersburg and accused of "aggravated hooliganism," which is a delightfully-named crime. They were taken to prison and kept in awful, predictable post-Soviet conditions until Banksy heard of their plight from a BBC radio broadcast. The artist offered to pay their bail, which for some reason the authorities didn't accept until recently.

Upon his release, one of the artists told the BBC that "We're in excellent spirits. Prison has been a most interesting and revealing adventure." Russia is crazy!

And Banksy seems to be increasingly powerful. He's like the guardian angel of artists keeping it real all over the world. Next time I'm behind on an assignment or forgot to pay my electric bill, I'll just call Banksy and tell him I'm working on a subversive portrait of Mike Bloomberg's face superimposed on top of the Joker's on the side of the Empire State Building. And everything will work out just fine.

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]


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4 comments
bigriggs
bigriggs

So what, he bailed a couple of criminals. He's a criminal himself.

Frymaster
Frymaster

This is no less that we've come to expect. He rarely makes a wrong move and seems to really be on his game. His work in the West Bank was, literally, revolutionary. Unlike most others of this genre, he clearly has a message and is unapologetic in pushing it forward. A series of woodblock prints by the artist Mitchel Ahern called The Angry Dishtowels included one that read, "Where is all the political art now that we need it?" Answer: Right. Freaking. Here.

Well done, mysterious one.

doe
doe

yeah. all criminals are bad. laws are always good for us and we should never question them. just trust the system and everything will be ok.

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