How do you hang a wall

Written in a notepad somewhere- to be put into a folder I need to start of story ideas- is something along the line of “How would someone steal a valuable piece of graffiti?”

It turns out the answer is straightforward- they’d just chisel out the section of wall and cart it away. This is what happened to a Banksy piece in the huge, long abandoned Packard plant in Detroit. The group that took the wall section- a local arts collective- claim they only did it to protect the art. Others aren’t so sure. Matters are made more complex because ownership of the property isn’t clearcut. Maybe it belongs to a man serving time in California, maybe the owner is the mystery name on documentation, or perhaps the city has the right to reclaim the site for its own ends.

Says Luis Croquer, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, “This may be unprecedented, because in most other cities, you wouldn’t be able to take a wall home… What does it mean to move a wall? And beyond legality, who does the wall really belong to, and now does the art belong to the gallery? To everybody? To nobody? We’re operating in this space where there’s this lawlessness that opens up possibilities that would be much harder to encounter in other cities.”

Watch this now- Requiem for Detroit

Requiem for Detroit is available on BBC iPlayer until March 20th. You should watch it, it’s incredible.

From being the USA’s fourth largest city in its heyday Detroit has suffered a slow apocalypse, destroyed by- amongst other things- the very cars which made it great. Now nature is reclaiming whole neighbourhoods, schools are closing, historic buildings are decaying and being cannibalised for scrap and the roads are all but empty. Requiem for Detroit takes us for a journey through the city and its history. It’s a powerful, scary film, but with just a hint of optimism at the end.