I was chatting to a friend of mine, who is a Cape Town-based graffiti artist, a couple of weeks ago about the politics of street art.
Street art is about reclaiming space for the people of a city or given region. It’s a way to engage with politics and society on the ground – to be seen and heard.
Banksy is internationally renowned, so being seen and heard isn’t a problem.
As for the political side of things, he’s been using that fame to spread awareness, by responding to the spread of COVID-19.
His rats, a recurrent image in his work, have been deployed in his bathroom (he was self-isolating and working from home), and on the subway in the hopes that it would encourage the wearing of masks.
South Africa, are you paying attention? We really need to get it together. That second wave has arrived, with a vengeance.
His artwork at Southampton hospital, depicting a healthcare worker as an action hero, came complete with a note which read: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.”
A new mural, titled Aachoo!!, is his latest response to the pandemic.
Per Highsnobiety, the piece is located on one of Bristol’s steepest roads, Vale Street, and shows a woman sneezing so hard that she loses her dentures.
Note the velocity of that sneeze:
His artwork has a tendency to be vandalised so a furniture maker who previously rented a room in the home that features the painting applied a clear cover to the artwork.
“We wanted to come up because people will deface it, and luckily we’ve got a workshop and a massive piece of acrylic we’ve got left over,” he said according to The Guardian.
“The artwork is so nice. It’s so relevant, isn’t it?”
Banksy confirmed ownership on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
Another job well done, Banksy.
Let’s hope people pay attention.
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