February 3, 2011

Voina x eBay x Banksy's Identity

by Rachel Schwerin
The two leading members of the Russian performance art collective Voina have been imprisoned in St. Petersburg without a charges or a trial for four months now. For those who aren't familiar, Voina has been responsible for numerous confrontational and political actions including the painting of a giant penis on a drawbridge that faced the building that housed former KGB offices.  Banksy, a fan of the collective's antics, announced a while back that he was going to donate the proceeds from his latest print release to fund their bail. Voina's lawyer offered the court 2 million rubles ($66,000) bail for each, but the judge denied the request. He cited a "lack of information about the person providing the money" for the bail as his justification to keep the Voina members locked up.  No doubt Voina’s imprisoned idealogist Oleg Vorotnikov doesn't appreciate the irony that Banksy's anonymity had just been available for purchase through an auction on eBay.

The highly scrutinized auction on eBay was posted by someone who claimed to have used tax records in some capacity to secure proof of the mysterious artist's identity.  Evidently the auction seller felt that this was marketable information, and that people looking for bargain electronics and obscure collectables would be equally interested in purchasing the documentation.  The auction was pulled before it was completed, but not before bidding reached nearly a million dollars for the promised info.  Speculation was that Banksy himself may have been behind either the auction listing or it's removal.  Either way, Banky’s identity can now be valued somewhere between $1 million and freedom.

Learn more about Voina (which translates from Russian as 'war') and check out the Free Voina page for the latest developments in their case.

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