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Art is…pre-approved? Filipinos online slam BGC for Banksy Universe promotion

Patricia Kahanap

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Art is…pre-approved? Filipinos online slam BGC for Banksy Universe promotion
(1st UPDATE) Pest Control, the organization which handles Banksy, says in its website that it is 'not involved or associated' with any exhibition of Banksy work in different countries

MANILA, Philippines –  Bonifacio Global City (BGC) caught heavy flak from netizens after it promoted its upcoming exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila featuring graffiti artist and political activist Banksy.

“Art is not a crime,” it said in a now edited post.

A commenter asked BGC if artists can now paint the walls within the business district in Taguig without repercussion, to which it initially replied “We do not condone any form of vandalism around BGC. All our wall art, murals, and exhibits are pre-approved and permitted.”

BGC later on edited its comment, which now says that the Banksy Universe will just be an exhibition at The Met Museum, and that “art murals and executions in and around BGC remain to be curated and permitted.”

Individuals online took this time to call out BGC for its treatment towards artists, particularly photographers, who were allegedly stopped from taking photos within the area.

In its website, BGC said that “It’s okay to take photos and videos for personal use, but shot permits are required for professional sessions.”

Banksy’s fans have also pointed out that the artist would never announce if they were to make art in a certain area. 

Pest Control, the organization that handles Banksy, said in their website that they are “not involved or associated” with any exhibition of Banksy work in different countries. 

In a statement sent to Rappler, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila confirms that the Banksy Universe exhibit “is not authorized or endorsed by Banksy,” and “will feature over a hundred works that trace the trajectory of Banksy’s career.”

“It’s almost impossible to see Banksy’s original art outside of the specific locations in which they were created. BANKSY UNIVERSE | MANILA 2024 is a unique opportunity to learn more about Banksy’s art and explore the universality of the many piercing social, political and domestic issues it raises,” it said.


Social media users said that the exhibition defeats the essence of the artist’s works. 

Banksy, whose real identity remains unannounced, creates sculptures and spray paintings on various socio-political issues, including capitalism.

The artist also used art to slam brands and institutions that use his work to gain profit. In 2022, for instance, Banksy called on shoplifters to steal from clothing brand Guess after it used their artwork “without asking.” 

Some people have long pointed out that BGC is a “capitalist dystopian,” like a “bubble” for foreigners and the country’s elites.

Banksy’s latest artwork, which he confirmed in an Instagram post back in March 2024, features green paint sprayed on a wall behind a cut-back tree in London.

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Patricia Kahanap

Patricia Kahanap is a digital communications specialist at Rappler.