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Digging deeper into the mystery & mission of Banksy’s Dismaland

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New York (CNN) Renowned street artist Banksy… His work is controversial. His identity – mysterious. His messages are rooted in social consciousness.

His latest exhibition, Dismaland, was a dystopian Disney or Bemusement Park, as he called it.

It sold out in the UK within hours.

Rather than selling off the artwork for millions to collectors, Banksy did something extraordinary.

He had the wood cut-up, the sculptures disassembled and the raw material then shipped to France where they were turned into make-shift shelters to help thousands of refugees living in squalor in the port city of Calais.

Calais Jungle

So we wanted to know if the act was a marketing ploy or if Banksy really is an artist with a heart.

But here’s the thing, it’s hard to get the scoop from the artist himself. Banksy has never revealed his identity to the public.

Few people know who he is. But pop artist Mr. Brainwash is one of them. He’s the main subject in Banksy’s Oscar nominated documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”

CNN Newsroom L.A.’s” Isha Sesay spoke to Mr. Brainwash about the mystery and mission of Banksy, overcoming the stigma of street art and his own artistic collaboration with Coca-Cola on the 100th birthday of their iconic contour bottle.

Mr. Brainwash

Mr. Brainwash: “To be taking over the Times Square Coca-Cola billboard — it’s history. It’s something that has never happened before. I feel blessed and honored.”

Isha Sesay: “You are trying to bring positivity to the world. Your friend, Banksy, with his work is also providing a social commentary on our times. His recent exhibition, Dismaland, is very much a continuation of his work — really holding a mirror up and pointing out some of the ugliness in life. Do you feel in some ways the work you’re doing and the work that Banksy’s doing is moving street art from the shadowy underground to take public stands and really shine the light on important matters?”

Mr. Brainwash: “Sometime in life, we’re gone. One moment in life that we should not regret that we didn’t do anything. Because if we do something about helping others, we will leave with a smile. We will be happy of what we did in life. That’s what makes life beautiful.”

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Sesay: “So Mr. Brainwash, you’ve explained what motivates you to do the kind of work that you do. You know Banksy. Very few people do. You’re one of the rare ones. In his case, why does he do the kind of work he’s doing — something like Dismaland? Why is he compelled to provide this kind of social commentary?”

Mr. Brainwash: “You know every artist, I guess, has a different way of expressing themselves. I feel like that’s the way he is. There are some people who have a different dream and his dream is to follow what he loves — to follow what he wants to do. I feel like he’s a very clever artist — not like everybody else. He’s real.”

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Sesay: “Have you ever talked about making himself known to the public? Will he ever do that?”

Mr. Brainwash: “You know, never say never. Like we say, ‘You never know.’ You never know, but it doesn’t matter.”

Dismaland 3

Sesay: “Mr. Brainwash, street art is cool to some people, it’s hip to others, but there are others who consider it to be criminal. How do you and others in this genre fight off negative stereotypes? Does it bother you?”

Mr. Brainwash: “I’m not here to judge. I feel like sometimes you wanna yell! You wanna tell people what you want to show them. The street is the street. It’s just art. It’s not a weapon. It’s not a gun. Nobody will hurt you.”

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Sesay: “When you look at this exhibition and the works you have on display, in your view, how have you changed as an artist over the years?”

Mr. Brainwash: “It doesn’t change. It’s living. It’s real. It’s something that I feel people need. I’m very positive and I really believe that life is beautiful for everyone. And I feel that everyone is a diamond. Every one of us. We just need to learn how to polish it to make it shine.”

Produced by: Ben Bamsey for “CNN Newsroom L.A.

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