Culture / Art Republik

Banksy May Be Massive Attack Frontman: Report

The Daily Mail reports Banksy is Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja of legendary trip-hop band Massive Attack…or that De Naja is part of a collective working as Banksy.

Sep 04, 2016 | By Staff Writer

The art world’s favorite cypher is the target once again of investigative journalism seeking to unmask him. We’re talking of course about the street artist Banksy, who was in the news recently when one of his murals in the UK was damaged, and the latest theory about his identity takes a decidedly “hiding in plain sight” approach.

The Daily Mail reports that Banksy is none other than Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja of legendary trip-hop band Massive Attack…or that he is at least a member of a collective working as the artist known as Banksy. Now, that is downright trippy because Banksy is known to be from Bristol and so is Massive Attack (Bristol is the birthplace of trip-hop). The paper has a crazy graphic related to this news that you just have to see, which can find via the link above. [Update: Del Naja flat out denies that he is Banksy, telling the Bristol Post it is “a good story but not true.”]

Journalist Craig Williams came up with the Del Naja collective theory after tracking Banksy artworks around the world and finding that they appeared at the same relative time and place as Massive Attack concerts. In other words, Del Naja (a noted graffiti artist, as it happens) had both the means and was in the right location to have participated in creating Banksy artwork.

Banksy may be Massive Attack frontman

Street art by Banksy, New York, October 2013; Massive Attack had played the city in September. © AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel Dunand

Specifically, Banksy pieces found or shown in Melbourne, Australia (March 2003), in Disneyland and Los Angeles (September 2006), again in Melbourne (March to April 2010), in San Francisco, Toronto, and Boston (May 2010), and New York (September to October 2013) can all be tied to stops on Massive Attack tours.

The evidence, such that it is, is all circumstantial and no one has confirmed anything. In fact, another Banksy candidate is Robin Gunningham, previously identified by none other than the Daily Mail and, separately, The Guardian, who is also a known associate of Del Naja and Massive Attack (this is disputed). Williams posits that Del Naja and others, possibly Gunningham, are all a collective functioning as the artist known as Banksy.

Curiously, Del Naja appears in the documentary Exit through the Gift Shop talking about Banksy like he was an old friend. Similarly, Banksy is credited with the introduction for Del Naja’s 3D and the Art of Massive Attack, published in 2015.

Well, whatever the case may be, speculating on the identity of artist such as Banksy (and secretive authors such as Thomas Pynchon) is loads of fun. Hopefully no one takes it all too seriously.

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