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Street art by Banksy in Los Angeles
Street art by Banksy in Los AngelesPhoto by Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images

This podcast thinks it’s uncovered Banksy’s real voice

The anonymous graffiti artist is the subject of a new BBC Sounds podcast, and the trailer suggests we’ll hear a recording of the Bristolian’s voice

A new trailer for the upcoming BBC Sounds podcast and Radio 4 series The Banksy Story has teased that it may contain a recording of the elusive graffiti artist’s voice, broadcast for the first time ever in the UK. In the two-minute trailer that premiered this week, host James Peak promises to get “closer than close to Banksy’s world and the people inside it”, featuring snippets of an interview with a former member of Banksy’s team, who claims that the artist once asked her to “get down on all fours and pretend to snort a line of cocaine and let me take some photos”.

At the end of the trailer, another voice that’s not Peak’s asks, “Banksy, we assume that you are who you say you are, but how can we be sure?” to which the alleged voice of Banksy replies, “well, you have no guarantee of that at all”.

The clip is taken from an interview that US radio station NPR conducted with Banksy (or a voice actor claiming to be Banksy) originally published on March 24, 2005. Michele Norris, then-host of NPR’s All Things Considered news programme, seemingly chatted to the artist about his recent exploits, including hanging his art in the Louvre without getting caught. 

“I think it’s testament to the frame of mind most people are in when they’re in a museum really,” the (alleged) Banksy tells the NPR show, speaking with a light Bristolian twang. “Most people don’t really notice things and let the world go by… For instance in the Met, they hung a Henri Matisse painting upside down for 42 days I believe it was, until someone told them it was round the wrong way. I was aiming for at least 42 days, but unfortunately didn’t get that far.” (Listen in full below).

The new BBC Sounds podcast comes during a period of heightened interest in the artist, coming hot on the heels of his first major solo show in 14 years that opened at Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art earlier this summer. Despite numerous attempts to pin him down, Banksy’s identity has remained a mystery since he rose to fame in the late 90s. At the beginning of his career, remaining anonymous had one very real appeal – to escape prosecution. Despite the public interest, the majority of Banksy’s early work was obviously considered vandalism, so it makes sense that he would want to dodge the eyes of the law.

Over the decades, Banksy’s anonymity – although still a way to avoid prosecution – has transmuted into something altogether different (whether the artist himself likes it or not). The cloak-and-dagger nature of the artist’s work intensified his cult-like following, the hidden identity as much a part of the artwork as the graffiti itself. Inversely, those who wish to unmask Banksy do so to ensure one thing – that an anti-establishment, disruptive figure, who openly mocks and ridicules the art world, won’t have the last laugh.

The Banksy Story is available as a boxset on BBC Sounds from July 17, and broadcast weekdays at 13:45 on BBC Radio 4 from July 17.

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