Banksy welcome at Oscars, but will he show up?


LOS ANGELES – The question that’s kept Oscar observers guessing since nominations were announced last month – Will Banksy show up? – remains unanswered. But the motion picture academy says the bad-boy British street artist is more than welcome to attend.
The elusive graffiti star is up for best documentary feature for his directing debut, ‘Exit through the Gift Shop.’ Since he prefers to hide his face, it has seemed unlikely he would reveal himself before half a billion viewers worldwide on Hollywood’s biggest night. Even in his own film, he appears in shadows, wearing a hooded jersey with his voice altered to make it unrecognizable.
While publicists for the movie and for Banksy himself declined to comment as to whether he’ll be at the Kodak Theatre with the rest of the nominees on Feb. 27, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says it would be happy to see him. “Banksy and his folks are keeping things very mysterious,” the academy’s executive director, Bruce Davis, said Friday.
“We certainly are expecting the producer of the film to be with us, Jaimie D’Cruz, but I would not be surprised if Banksy were in the audience as well – but I don’t think he’s going to be wearing a name tag, so it may not be clear.” It seems Banksy was already in L.A. this past week, as evidenced by a few new pieces of his work that have cropped up around town.
One of them, a billboard for the Las Vegas nightclub Light, was tagged with graffiti images of Mickey and Minnie Mouse drinking and smoking with a sexy, scantily clad dancer. CBS Outdoor, which owns the billboard, quickly pulled the image down, saying it didn’t meet their standards. While Banksy’s representatives won’t comment on the work, as is their custom, photos of the billboard match those on Banksy’s own website.
There was also no explanation as to why the iconic Disney characters were used, but the Academy Awards are televised by Disney-owned ABC. Contrary to earlier reports, Davis said the academy did not tell Banksy to stay away from the Oscars for fear that he might cause a disruption at the elegant ceremony.
“We like to have the nominees with us,” he said. But he added that because of Banksy’s penchant for secrecy, “this presents certain problems, and we’re talking to people about that. We kind of like to know who we’re giving an Oscar to, but I think we can handle that if his film should win – and remember, there are four other contenders here. ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop,’
which follows the evolution of the Los Angeles street art scene as it builds to a frenzy over the latest hot, new thing, is up against ‘Gasland,’ ‘Inside Job,’ ‘Restrepo’ and ‘Waste Land.’ When Banksy was nominated Jan. 25, he put out a statement, “This is a big surprise. I don’t agree with the concept of award ceremonies,
but I’m prepared to make an exception for the ones I’m nominated for. The last time there was a naked man covered in gold paint in my house, it was me.”