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Is Banksy Also the Founder of Massive Attack? | Insta of the Week

New evidence that Banksy is actually Robert '3D' Del Naja is... questionable.
September 2, 2016, 4:00pm

Here's a Banksy painted on the side of a building previously owned by 3D from massive attack  #thewellhunglover #bristol #banksy #massiveattack #imdead

A photo posted by RVBY MY DEAR (@rvbymydear) on

Jul 25, 2016 at 11:55am PDT

Every few months, it seems, reports come out "unmasking" or otherwise making claims about Banksy's identity. The latest comes with claims that Massive Attack founder Robert '3D' Del Naja is, in fact, the notorious street artist behind Balloon GirlBomb Hugger, and countless other world-renowned artworks and exploits.

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The above Instagram depicts a Banksy on the wall of a building reportedly previously owned by Del Naja, who was a young Bristol graffito right around the same time Bansky was first getting up. The pseudononymous street art icon even lauded 3D's street art in a 2006 interview in Swindle Magazine.

Admittedly, the evidence claiming they are one and the same is shaky at best. Whether it's the Daily Mail's 3,500-word investigation in 2008, naming the artist as "former public schoolboy" Robin Gunningham, or CityLab's vague 2015 argument that Banksy is a woman, most of the headline-making thinkpieces theorizing about his (or her) identity are unsatisfying.

A photo posted by Banksy (@banksy) on

Oct 1, 2013 at 9:38am PDT

2014's more or less scientific approach, via "geographic profiling," led scientists at Queen Mary University of London to report, “Our analysis highlights areas associated with one prominent candidate (e.g., his home), supporting his identification as Banksy." One co-author of the report, biologist Steve Le Comber, told the BBC: “I’d be surprised if it’s not [Gunningham], even without our analysis, but it’s interesting that the analysis offers additional support for it."

The new report from Transmission Glasgow's Craig Williams, however, uses a similar technique to point out that many of Banksy's shows and murals have coincided with Massive Attack concerts. But Williams has other ideas: "Perhaps the assertion then that Banksy is just one person is wide of the mark, instead being a group who have, over the years, followed Massive Attack around and painted walls at their leisure," Williams suggests. "And perhaps, at the head of such a group, we have Del Naja. A multi-disciplined artist in front of one the seminal groups in recent British music history, doubling up as the planet's most revered street artist. Now that would be cool." Maybe it would, but where does this claim fit in the realm of journalistic conclusions?

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Coney Island

A photo posted by Banksy (@banksy) on

Oct 28, 2013 at 7:19am PDT

Williams is far from the first person to suggest Banksy is a collective, rather than a single artist. CityLab's argument that Banksy is a woman is rooted in a 2010 blog post by artist Christopher Healy that, "Banksy is not a him, but is a woman who leads of team of seven people." Healy's source is, of course, secret. "You’ll have to take me to the Supreme Court of Canada to find that out, but let’s just say it is legit and reliable information, and had the tell-tale ring of truth to it," he writes. The idea that Banksy is a collective has also been present for years on Reddit threads and blog posts, and even the Daily Mail's 2008 investigation admits the possibility.

If Banksy is indeed a collective, geographic profiling is futile because he can be in multiple places at once. Maybe Del Naja is Banksy—or maybe one of his roadies put up a few stencils for the collective, which may or may not be led by a woman. Whether Banksy is a single artist helped by the equivalent of studio assistants or a collective of many equal, independently moving parts, we're simply going to need better evidence. At the moment, we'd just be happy if the media didn't lose its marbles everytime someone sees a pattern in the spray.

South Bronx

A photo posted by Banksy (@banksy) on

Oct 21, 2013 at 7:25am PDT

Via The Daily Mail, Transmission Glasgow

Related:

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Banksy Bombed the Bristol Elementary School Building Named After Him

Banksy DOXED?: Last Week in Art