They are effectively foundations upon which our understanding of the world may be continually constructed, evaluated, and contextualized. Disruptions to these foundations tend to ripple throughout our wetware, forcing reevaluation of whatever it is we think we know, of the values by which our moral equations are reflexively calculated.
For these reasons, perhaps above all others, artists must engage in a proverbial negotiation with their audiences, and across cultures, languages, and eras alike. The bargain is implicit, if tacit, and states (more or less) that, though the artist’s commitment to those who behold their works is one of encouraging ongoing assessment of the world we inhabit, any trespasses upon conventional wisdom and widely accepted beliefs will be undertaken with at least a modicum of respect or decorum. Brazen disregard for the implied bargain is met with that most democratic of audience prerogatives—rejection. Only in a select few fields of artistic endeavor are the tenets of this perennial negotiation. Among these is, of course, graffiti; and among graffiti’s most notorious and lurid of practitioners is Bambi.
Often reduced to that very much diminished title of “the female Banksy” by far too many, Bambi is indeed equal to her similarly mysterious counterpart and deserving of a moniker devoid of dismissive comparison. Communicating with English citizenry and, by extension, the world at large via clever stenciled illustrations, Bambi has left upon London culture an indelible (so to speak) mark characterized by skillful artwork, frustratingly effective secrecy measures, and often scathing sociopolitical commentary.
On account of the latter two instances, Bambi has placed herself firmly at odds with law enforcement officials and those amongst the public according to whose standards graffiti operates in bold defiance of the aforementioned bargain. Decorum, after all, is the natural enemy of graffiti; its absence, even in the service of raw creativity and genuine inspiration, carries with it a nullifying effect upon any legitimacy the artist’s work might otherwise exhibit.
This is not to say that Bambi’s prowess and sense of the satirical are wholly lost upon London’s more conservative elements. No, these qualities are widely agreed upon and even heralded by art critics of severely discriminating tastes and by connoisseurs whose sensibilities might otherwise roundly condemn Bambi’s work on the grounds of its unsavory categorization.
The controversy stems from the medium more than the message, to place McLuhan’s maxim at odds with itself. In this case, Bambi’s messages are often subdued by the fixed condemnation which functions in reflexive opposition to all such creative expressions. However, this very conflict is what (ironically enough) tends to augment the appeal of Bambi’s works and of her iconic status.
The allure of graffiti, dependent upon quality, is its outlaw elements. Even law-and-order types tend to romanticize roguish qualities at times. Antiheroes tend to be well-received in literature and in cinema, while villains are often perceived as offering actors more psychological depth upon which to draw (think Joker/Batman). The romantic in us all is hard-pressed to reject graffiti outright, particularly as we associate its practitioners with any number of rogues so celebrated in folklore, in song, in history.
Bambi artwork rests snugly within this cultural accommodation, and draws a high price from those who cherish what is represented within her work…within her identity. A bit of rebellion is understood to stir the spirit and to energize the mind, and for what purpose does art expand our psychological perimeters if not to serve precisely those functions?
While graffiti, by definition, relies upon commercial/residential structures, municipal fixtures, and many a bridge or under/overpass for the rendering of artwork, these makeshift canvases are of limited value to those who seek ownership of a more private nature. And though an element of graffiti’s inherent romance is the democratic notion of shared possession, artists are rarely wont to deny potential patrons their due works.
In this spirit should prospective buyers give consideration to purchasing Bambi edition prints, any one of which is certain to convey the artist’s convention-defying ideology and the social criticisms/observations for which she is understandably notorious.