The Art of Robbing a Bank
“It’s not crime; It’s artwork… He’s an intellectual” –New York Post Joe Gibbons, at 61 years old, pleaded guilty this year to robbing a bank in Chinatown. His robbery did not involve weapons, however. He simply wrote a note that read “This is a bank robbery. Large Bills. No dye packs/ No GPS”(nytimes.com), handed it to the bank teller, and received only $1,000 and an exploding dye pack. The bank teller fled, and Gibbons was caught on the bank cameras. He was also captured on his own camera, as the purpose of the robbery was for his latest film. Gibbons was simply doing what he is best known for: blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. Joe Gibbons is best known for films in which the viewer does not know whether he is filming his own life, or whether he is acting for the purpose of the film. In the majority of his films, he portrays himself as a paranoid, pessimistic, radical protagonist living off-the-grid. His works have been viewed in several countries such as France, Spain, and Portugal, as well as on PBS in the US. His latest film is called “Confessions of a Sociopath”, in which he famously declares, “I am Joe Gibbons! I do not need a job. I just take what I need.” The purpose of the film is to make fun of psychiatry’s tendency to fix non-conformity through prescriptions and diagnosis. Gibbons’ filmmaking however, will have to be put on pause for one year, as he will be in jail. This was not Gibbon’s first bank robbery, although it is his first time getting caught. In a Jailhouse interview with the New York Post, Gibbons admitted to robbing a Citizens Bank in Providence, in which he demanded $3,000 of cash to donate to his church. Art organizations in several countries regard these actions as art, and are in full support of Gibbons. The organization IndieGogo raised over $8,000 in order for Gibbons to be able to support himself once he is out of jail. The Light Industry also staged a benefit for him. But how is a bank robbery considered to be artwork? According to one professional in the performing arts, Ann Peligrini, the policemen, bank teller, and bank robber were all artists, “without knowing that they were at the same time performing in Gibbons art performance,”(nytimes.com). Others claim that the robbery itself was not an art, but it was art because it was done for the purpose of a future film. Artwork or not, Joe Gibbons will be spending the next year in prison, most likely planning for his next project in film.