“It’s not Banksy’s; this is mine’: the artist says that the Bristol plate of the adulterer is a copy | street art – cialisdfr
“It’s not Banksy’s;  this is mine’: the artist says that the Bristol plate of the adulterer is a copy |  street art
“It’s not Banksy’s;  this is mine’: the artist says that the Bristol plate of the adulterer is a copy |  street art

Ibegan as the story of a mysterious plaque on a bench in Bristol – but the strange story of an engraved tribute to a deceased adulterer is now raising wider questions about copyright and who gets credit for creativity in the art world.

Pictures of the brass plaque honoring an allegedly deceased adulterer named Roger went viral last week after it was affixed to a wooden bench on Royal York Crescent in the upscale Clifton district.

Who put up the plaque commemorating the “husband, the father, the adulterer” – which includes the payoff line “Roger, I knew” – remains unknown. But while locals speculated that Banksy might be involved, another artist has now suggested they were the victims of a hoax.

The London-based artist, who works under the name The Misfortuneteller, said they created an almost identical plaque in March 2020 after wandering around New York’s Central Park and looking at the writing on the benches.

“Plaques are good, but they’re not really that true,” they say. “I wanted to make honest plaques. Bittersweet.”

He came up with a series of images featuring an unusual tribute to the deceased. Some of the designs were sold as actual engraved plaques. An ex-girlfriend is tagged with a real-life sign that reads: “To Barbara – Who was terrible when she was hungry, but otherwise pretty solid.”

Others took on a life of their own after going viral, often being shared without credit or posted by meme aggregator accounts on Instagram.

No one bought his design, paying tribute to the “beloved husband, father and adulterer”, although the image proved popular online.

As a result, The Misfortuneteller said he was surprised to see his original design and phrase reappear on the Bristol bench this week, prompting him to say: “It’s not Banksy’s; it’s mine, dammit.”

Whoever put up the Bristol plaque used almost exactly the same phrase as the original 2020 design, though they changed the name of the supposedly deceased adulterer. And while there’s no suggestion that they want to profit from their actions, the original artist said they’re outraged by the potential copyright infringement: “I’m angry at the person who took this, copied it and left it on the bench. It’s a reflection of how difficult it is to enforce intellectual property these days.”

He said there is a tension between the enjoyment of creating work that resonates with the public and the lack of recognition for it.

“It’s just interesting how things go viral – on the one hand you have to be happy that you’re entertaining people,” he said. “But if a million people like your post, you don’t get anything from it.”

Drawing a parallel to the early days of illegal music downloading on the internet, the artist said: “Even my followers say I should be happy. It’s a bit like Napster – the internet is used to getting stuff for free, and they expect to get everything for free, not credit everyone. There’s an assumption that if you find something funny and share it, the person doing it is doing really well.

The UK has a long history of false signage. In 2013, a man who emigrated to Australia left behind an inscription on a bench that read “In memory of Roger Bucklesby who hated this park and everyone in it”. A fake English Heritage blue plaque commemorating the residence of Victorian time traveler Jacob von Hogflum appeared on a London townhouse in 2012. And artist Gavin Turk created the plaque as a mocking tribute to his own self-importance while still a young artist.

The unfortunate man insisted that he did not want to stop others from creating subversive signs. He said he appreciates this as a powerful and effective medium: “There are other artists in my orbit who have tried to make plaques. I never said I owned all the plaques, just like I don’t own ink and paper. I feel this is different because it is word for word.

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