When the above phrase was uttered to the agents in the TV and Film adaptations of Mission Impossible they all knew what they were expecting and with cool resolve did not overreact. What about something though that self-destructs when you are not expecting it, indeed something that causes shock and surprise? Last week the well-known, yet consistently illusive, artist, Banksy, pulled off one of the greatest artistic stunts of our age. A painting of his, ‘Girl with Balloon’, was actioned for over a million pounds. Moments after the hammer struck on the sale the painting started to go down through a shredder which had been concealed in the frame. It was a moment of shock and surprise, not least for the auction house and buyer. You can watch the moment here.
This is the second of three posts. You can read post one here.
Watching that painting disappear was a moment of shock. It caused ripples in the art world and observers out with were able to see something that raised an eye brow or merited a funny quip on social media.
In my last article I spoke about the realisation that something had no value and what it is to find true worth in Jesus.
There is another angle to this though. What Banksy did was create something infamous. I am no art critic; however, I would hazard to say that time will show this ‘ruined’ painting to be something far more valuable.
Think of it this way. A goodly amount of folk will have known about ‘Girl with Balloon’ in its previous state but I don’t think it would have commonly been the chat of staff break rooms and school gates. ‘The Painting that was Shredded’ though, that is going to be something that people will chat about and blog about (!) for some time to come. A friend of mine commented that they would not be surprised to see queues of people who want to go and see the painting in its fragile and held together state.
Something that shares characteristics with the bedding used by pet hamsters has become a defining marker in the world of modern art. Its mind blowing when this item of no inherent value contains a far grander and meaningful message.
The chap I mentioned yesterday, Paul, he wrote about something of seemingly negligible value being the vessel for something for grander. He put it this way:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” 2 Corinthians 4:7
When we feel week and like a clay jar we can point to someone far greater – God. This is delightfully disruptive to the narrative of today where we must have it all together. Likewise, the stunt that Banksy pulled off is delightfully disruptive within the world of art and Sotheby’s auctions. In its shredded state the painting comes to embody something so much more for so many more people. In a broken and fragile state what could we achieve? In a broken and fragile state what treasure might we contain?