A group of men has begun charging $5 apiece for photos of the new Banksy piece in East New York today, according to the Instagram account streetartjamz. This development is the most compelling thing about Banksy's latest work, which before had just been a stencil painting of a beaver gnawing on a felled parking sign.
These men, heroes that they are, have elevated the original work, turning it into a performance piece about the commodification and hipster-fication of people's homes. If you're going to treat a neighborhood like an art museum, why shouldn't the residents of that neighborhood charge admission like an art museum, particularly when many New Yorkers would never come to that patch of the city but to take a picture of a stencil painting of a beaver?
They have been guarding it for a while drinking heavily, so who knows. They are pretty angry about how many white people are coming here. Side note, I have some cred here because I work close to that spot. The general feeling is that nobody cares about this neighborhood and now that they have something of value they should benefit. Omar's name came up several times and they are not going to allow anyone to deface it. They didn't charge me because one guy has seen me around. They reported that several yellow cabs have pulled up with people wanting to get a look. They are firm about the $20 fee and tried to warn me when I left about the crews from the area projects robbing people who look like they don't belong. They wouldn't let me take a picture, but were happy to let me take a nice long look while blocking some others who had not paid.