Also this time Banksy surprised us, he kept us in suspense for a few days, not having confirmed how he usually does by publishing the work on his Instagram account, but many experts and press immediately assumed the authorship of the his latest work appeared on the wall of the English prison in Reading.
But let's recap the story that does not begin a few days ago but begins in the distant 1895, when the detention house in the south of England rises to the headlines because for two years it will imprison the famous, legendary writer, intellectual, protagonist of the European scene of that era: Oscar Wilde. From 1895 to 1897 Wilde served his sentence for homosexuality in forced labor and imprisonment for "vulgar indecency" because of his love for Lord Alfred Douglas. A scandalous story that went around the world, after the sentence the tried writer and no longer the same wrote the work, published in 1898 "The ballad of Reading prison".
But let's get to the news, the prison building was abandoned in 2013, then put up for sale by the British government in 2019, at first it seemed to have been bought by a real estate group that would have made apartments, then the agreement with the private, the Municipality of Reading has come forward to make it a cultural and artistic center. In support of this project, an awareness campaign was immediately launched which involved many famous people who supported and adhered to the transformation of Reading into a symbolic place. The spokesman for the City Council of the British city said, a few days ago, that he was "thrilled that Banksy seems to have given his support to the will of the Council to transform the now empty Reading Gaol into a beacon of art, heritage and culture with this work of art "adding" that the Council itself is pushing the Ministry of Justice, owner of the site, to make appropriate arrangements to protect the mural. "
What appeared on Reading's brick wall? A prisoner who escapes using tied sheets and a typewriter tied at the bottom, the usual prison uniform with stripes, his face resembling that of Oscar Wilde. Few details and for days with bated breath, amidst news that chased each other is it him or is it not him?
And so the confirmation on the Instagram account with a video, a special video dedicated to Bob Ross, entitled "The Create Escape". Bob Ross is a painter who died in 1995 and became a television personality with his TV show, “The Joy of Painting” broadcast between the mid-80s and mid-90s. Banksy's video starts from the TV program, then pretending a sudden demagnetization, thus appears a man whose face you never see painting the mural of Reading, with spray cans and stencils and under the voice of Bob Ross who comments: “Painting for me represents freedom. I can create the world I want to see and I want to be a part of ”.
This time Banksy not only creates in defense of rights and freedom but joins the campaign to make Reading a cultural pole, against the building speculation of a historic place, the British Ministry of Justice also confirms this, declaring that it has taken into consideration new assumptions and evaluations with respect to the sale.
This work is certainly the work of the street artist that excites me most, because it combines two myths, creates an incredible bond between two human beings that I love madly: Oscar Wilde and Banksy, for me two comets in worlds and eras that are always in search to get out of the schemes and injustices. Among their common traits there are certainly provocation, uncomfortable truths, audacity, the desire for freedom.
I conclude by waiting to know the fate of the English prison with one of the phrases from "The Ballad of Reading Prison", also quoted in the soundtrack of "Querelle de Brest" by Fassbinder: "Every man kills the thing he loves".