Presenting at the 18th annual Webby Awards last week, Godmother of Punk Patti Smith managed to Adele Dazeem street art provocateur Banksy not once, but twice. Banksky? Ban-ski? It’s a measure of the lady’s august standing that emcee Patton Oswalt passed on the comic opportunities of this giant blunder. He did call her “fucking adorable,” but I like to think he did so with the kindest of intentions.
As to why an artist famous for using the real world as his canvas should be dubbed “Person of the Year” by an outfit that recognizes excellence on the Internet, Smith was nothing short of eloquent. The impermanence of his oft-illegally installed creations make them the perfect candidate “to be archived, shared and stored … through the World Wide Web.” (Apparently, she only just realized this is a synonym for the Internet, but no matter. I’m with Oswalt! It would be a cringeworthy admission in just about anybody else, but from her, it’s pretty dang cute.)
The necessarily low-profile honoree surprised no one by failing to accept his award in person. Rather than sending Sacheen Littlefeather as his proxy, he proffered a delightful, self-mocking short film, which you can see above.
The short revisits some of the high points of “Better In Than Out,“ last fall’s month-long, piece-a-day takeover of New York City. Keep your eyes peeled for Sirens of the Lambs, a truck hauling a load of squeaking, ostensibly doomed plush farm animal toys and Queens, an inflatable tag thrown up on his final day as “Artist in Residence for the City of New York.”
My favorite work from his autumnal siege of my city was Art Sale, in which he stocked a Central Park vendor table with half a million dollars’ worth of uncredited stencil art, then installed a decidedly unhip-looking senior citizen to man it. The day’s receipts totaled $420 from a handful of tourists, one of whom successfully bargained her way into a 2-for-1 deal.
I want to know more about these people who unwittingly lucked into such a lucrative role in 21st-century art history, but to my consternation, they seem to be flying incognito, just like the artist who so increased their value. You know, the guy who’s all over the internet, without revealing his identity? The Webby Awards’ Person of the Year!?
Maybe if I spend another hour poking around online… (A bad use of time, for all but Patti Smith, who claimed it took her 48 minutes to unsuccessfully download the video we can click with such ease, above.)