The Venice Biennale art show is one of the most prestigious in the world, and this year they had an unauthorized entry show up – legendary British street artist, and part myth, Banksy.
“Setting out my stall at the Venice Biennale,” Banksy wrote on Instagram. “Despite being the largest and most prestigious art event in the world, for some reason I’ve never been invited.”
The accompanying video, viewed over a million times since being posted early afternoon Wednesday, shows a person (perhaps Banksy himself) wearing a hat, sunglasses and scarf to hide their features, set up a stall of paintings in the famous Piazza San Marco.
The stall is named “Venice in oil” by a tiny sign; the work itself is a collection of paintings that portray Venice’s iconic gondola boats surrounding a massive cruise ship that dwarfs everything else in the scene.
In the background, the iconic Bridge of Sighs and Saint Marks Basilica bell tower can be seen – some of Venice’s major tourist hotspots.
Banksy is known for his politically charged artwork, and his millions of followers on Instagram praised this latest piece and theorized about the message – could it be an environmental wake-up call, or perhaps commentary on the migrant crisis in Italy?
Bystanders are filmed perusing the work and discussing it before uniformed officers arrive and tell the person that they “do not have authorization to be there.”
The video ends with the person packing up their artwork and carting it away in front of the exact scene that was depicted in paintings – a large cruise ship dominating the historic Venice waterways.