Life imitates Banksy with human models in Bristol
IT is said to be one of Banksy's classic pieces, an iconic image in the city where he made his name. Thousands walk past Hanging Man, in Park Street, every day but now the image has been brought to life with human models.
This is just one of 19 images that photographer Nick Stern, 47, has meticulously re-created using props and live models.
The maid sweeping, the kissing policemen, flower-throwing rioter and Mona Lisa with a grenade launcher have all been given the same treatment, posed on the streets of Los Angeles, after what started as a bit of fun.
Mr Stern, who emigrated to LA five years ago from Hertfordshire, said: "I started this project last year and photographed eight of Banksy's works. I've always liked his work and the political message behind most of the pieces. I was doing a bit of photography for an actor and I'd dressed him as an anarchist because he wanted to look moody.
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"It was around the time of the London riots and I thought it might be fun to re-create the riots but have the people throwing bouquets of flowers, like the Banksy. In the end that never happened and instead I set out re-creating the Banksy works."
The first eight pieces took Mr Stern two months to put together. This week he has unveiled more images bringing the set to 19 becoming more and more creative in finding props for his shoots.
The RPG launcher held in the Mona Lisa image is fashioned from plastic plumbing and fixtures – while police outfits were bought online. He revealed he also had to make the maid's apron in the famous sweeping image.
He said: "I just couldn't find an apron like that so I ended up making one. The one of the kid with the machine gun should have been a M60 but even in America it was really hard to find one. I could rent one for an astronomical price so I ended up buying something similar and cutting the end off and using a lawn sprinkler piece on the inside.
"What took up most of my time was the planning. It was almost an exercise in reverse scientific engineering. I looked at the poses, the lighting and the props. I had to look at the way Banksy had taken the image, what he was trying to say, and look at the relationship between the characters in the piece.
"Even now I look at things and think the angles could have been better – it was very complex as any movement changed the whole piece."
Now he has been in touch with Banksy in the hope that he will be able to feature the images in a book or possibly an exhibition.
He said: "I was concerned that people would look at this as a cheap rip-off. In the beginning I never intended to put them out to the public, I was doing it for my own interest but the feedback has been so good. I've even had people like LL Cool J and Courtney Love telling me they love them."
To see Mr Sterns work visit http://nickstern.com.