Unless you walk around with your eyes closed you cannot fail to have seen the tags or the rectangular white stickers with the letters “BNE” in Helvetica Neue gracing lamposts, street signs and any available surface just about everywhere you go.
For more than 5 years, from Tokyo to New York, Bangkok to San Fransisco the mysterious acroynm has become ubiquitous with the modern urban environment.
A simple flickr search will bring back hundreds of pictures, hell there was even an article in the NY times about a recent exhibition by the artist claiming to be BNE.
Yet, still no one seems to know what it means ( Be Nice to Everyone ?, Breaking ‘N Entering ?) or who exactly is behind it, if it is indeed just one person and not some worldwide cult plotting the destruction or salvation of mankind.
For my money that’s what makes it so infuriatingly interesting, makes it impossible once you have noticed the stickers to not see them everywhere.
Much like the infamous Banksy, the anonymity of the artist (or criminal depending on which side of the fence you fall on) only serves to pique our interest.
BNE is just one of a huge army of urban artists stickering, pasting up or painting their art, repossesing our urban environment from the town planners and advertising companies.
These anonymous folk heroes, who even your father has heard of, spit in the face of our image obsessed, “me me me” main stream culture.
Which is what makes the messages written next to BNE stickers and the crossing out of those stickers that has been appearing around Tokyo all the more intruiging.
It’s clearly other writers or sticker artists who have started to feel put out by the blanket coverage and infamy that BNE has achieved.
Maybe they know something we don’t.
Maybe he/she or they really are evil and BNE has come to take over the world with only the other street artists to foil the dastardly plan.
Whatever the reason is, the fact that someone is annoyed enough to make a futile attempt to scratch out one of a million BNE stickers or write a message suggesting they “go out Tokio (sic)” makes me all the more interested in the acroynm that is taking over the world.