Banksy Storms New Orleans: Banksy vs.. The Gray Ghost
I came to New Orleans to do battle with the Gray Ghost.
On August 28th 2008, the day before the third anniversary of the storm, the controversial British, urban guerilla graffiti artist Banksy travelled to New Orleans
His plan: to hit the place fast and have his easily recognizable stencil based works in place to commemorate the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
“Three years after Katrina I wanted to highlight the state of the clean up operation”
I looked out the window of the taxi on the drive into New Orleans and remarked “There’s still so much devastation I can’t believe they haven’t cleaned this mess up”, to which the driver stared at me and said “This part of the city wasn’t affected by the hurricane-it’s always looked like this.””
Almost immediately his work started to appear on the buildings and the levees across New Orleans.
Some were reminiscent of the traditions that were associated with the city.
Some were political.
Some related to the hurricane
But all contained that characteristic Banksy sense of humour.
To some people other works may have been confusing. Why were there pictures of a man with a paint roller obliterating graffiti?
Fred Radtke knew the answer to this, because he was the figure in the painting. Fred was the man who had been dubbed “The Gray Ghost”
Banksywrote “I came to New Orleans to do battle withthe Gray Ghost, a notorious vigilante who’s been systematically painting over any he can find with the same kind of grey paint since 1997.
Consequently he’s done more damage to the culture than any section five hurricane could ever hope to achieve.”
And this point of view had some support.
One internet user under the name of “chocolate Alaska” commented “….every time I see a flick of someone fighting the grey-ghost, I get a warm feeling of hope inside. Seeing Banksy on board just multiplied that feeling exponentially.”
What Fred thought of this may never be known, and had Banksy and The Gray Ghost met that would certainly have hit the headlines!
Banksys final words on the undertaking:
Three years after Katrina I wanted to highlight the state of the clean up operation. Only afterwards did it dawn on me that if you choose to do this by drawing all over their stuff, you’re actually slowing down that clean-up operation.”
Not everybody agreed
Perhaps the most interesting comment that was made of the whole incident, was on this picture, and was by someone who, from their words, was probably a local resident.
“somehow this picture symbolizes the situation in the lower 9th ward for me: it’s gonna be hard and it’s gonna take much longer to rebounce after katrina – will it ever be what it was before?”
Other articles by C. Jordan on Banksy:-
There are MANY more articles on Banksy by this writer, including
All can be found at