The Moco Museum is located within the biggest cultural hub in Amsterdam, the Museumplein, neighbouring the acclaimed Stedelijk, Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum. Everyone’s heard that these are the places to visit on a trip to Amsterdam, yet after my visit to the Moco Museum of modern contemporary art, I would state that this is the museum not to be missed.
The permanent collection features the artists the curator names the Moco Masters, and it celebrates icons such as Warhol, Haring, Koons and many more. The current exhibition ‘Laugh Now’ features a collection of some of Banksy’s most iconic works, including Girl with Balloon, Flower Thrower, and Laugh Now, to name a few.
Banksy has completed more traditional works of art for hanging inside on a wall, and this exhibition allows the viewer to see this. However, the exhibition could be considered contradictory in its nature. Banksy’s fame arose from his powerful and political graffiti in the streets. Does putting his art into a museum change the impact of the original street art?
The exhibition is not authorised by Banksy, nor was it curated in collaboration with the artist. This made me question the validity of the exhibition, is it right to do so? Does it make sense for Banksy to be in a museum?
Some of the works appear to have been physically cut from a wall. Whereas others have been removed from the wooden doors on which they have been taken from to put into the gallery. Is it fair to remove the art from the original location chosen by the artist?
Many of Banksy’s works still emit the same original political message. However, when the art is put into the gallery and the context is changed, the effect is weakened. Banksy’s political and satirical street art combines graffiti with dark humour, and ultimately it is meant to be a subversive surprise. As you walk down the street you might not take it in immediately, but once you do, the impact is felt, arising emotions varying from shock to hope. It makes you think. It is art available to all; it costs nothing to view it.
Despite this, the exhibition at the Moco Museum is compelling and it absorbs you into the environment, making you think of the different interpretations as Banksy pushes the viewer to question society. It highlights Banksy’s political activism, and allows a more in depth look at Banksy’s less exposed indoor pieces. The exhibition has now been extended until the 6th of January 2020; get yourself there if you can.