A couple of months ago when I traveled to London and wrote about the street art scene there, I failed to capture the work of one of the most well-known street artists alive: Banksy.
My luck changed when he decided to make a month-long appearance in New York City in October 2013 to share some of his creative talents. Not only did Banksy create works that sent hundreds of people running around the city hoping to capture them before they were destroyed, but he also documented everything on his website BanksyNY.com.
Each piece of work is unique and usually they have messages surrounding them. This particular piece (according to the audio guide) is supposed to represent the Dance of Death and Banksy says that the role of art is supposed to remind us of mortality.
I rushed out of my class on a Sunday afternoon armed with my camera and bundled tightly in a jacket and scarf. I scurried through the busy Sunday afternoon crowds in the SoHo and Bowery districts towards the corners of Elizabeth & Houston streets, in search of Banksy’s latest piece called Reaper. Knowing that the installation was only going to last for three days, I wanted to make sure that I was not going to miss it.
When I arrived to the corners of the street, a large crowd had gathered around the fence surrounding a small parking lot where the reaper was set to ride around in on a bumper car. I inched my way towards the gate and hoped that I would be able to see the show when it began. I tried to adjust my body to the left and then to the right and I failed to get a close enough view. I decided that I would wait it out and just move closer as the crowd dispersed.
One thing New Yorker’s are used to doing is waiting. For about an hour I stood in my spot and waited for the reaper to be unveiled and for him to move around on the track. People passing by kept stopping to ask why hundreds of people were looking through a gate at an empty parking lot. When they were informed that it was a Banksy piece, their interest grew, and the crowd grew with it.
Finally, as dusk hit the city, multi-colored smoke began to rise and lights began to move back and forth inside of the parking lot. Inside of the gate, you could hear the faint echo of an accordion being played in the background. As the smoke settled, an oversized reaper on a small scooter started to make his way around the parking lot. He swerved back and forth to the music of the accordion and occasionally he bumped into the gate or got stuck and had to be fixed. When the song Don’t Fear The Reaper (by the Blue Oyster Cult) came on, the crowd cheered and everyone began snapping photographs and taking videos. Below are some of my photographs from the show along with the video of the reaper driving around the parking lot on the corner of Houston & Elizabeth.
- Installation Release Date: Friday, October 25, 2013
- Film/Shoot Date: Sunday, October 27, 2013 (Final Night)