If the people at the Guardian had the talent, I might assume that Banksy was some sort of dystopian creation, like Robocop or Jean-Claude Van Damme in Universal Soldier, a graffiti artist that was run over one day and implanted with Islington sensibilities.
Alternatively, I hope Banksy is a capitalist who really wanted to live in a gated community, drink Cristal and drive Ferraris, and that this was an easy way to do it. Read the Guardian, watch BBC3 for a while and you’ll figure out what sells.
Banksy’s genius is rebellion as performance art. It isn’t actually rebellion. When Banksy “destroyed” a painting immediately after it was sold, this was seen as an act of rebellion by many, sticking it to the man. It’s notable that he left enough of it intact that it is still in one piece, and therefore becomes itself a work of art, valued for its “rebellion”.
His most common tool is graffiti, or what has euphemistically become labelled as “street art”. This co-opts the most rebellious art form from down the ages, the art form of the little people rousing the masses to arms against the aristos, by scratching or daubing on walls. The subject of Banksy’s art, however, is deeply conservative, siding with the establishment like the BBC and The Guardian. It wants to remain in the EU, to have more immigration, capitalism is bad, Israel is bad. Much of it borrows from older tricks like pop art, or from tired juxtaposition of Mickey Mouse with horror that was once edgy, but is now tedious and about as dangerous as a Gainsborough.
So, It’s not surprising that Banksy’s artistic contribution to Covid-19 is something that should have the Guardian wetting themselves. It’s hard for me not to think he’s a cynical genius after this
He may be best known for his comic and subversive street art, but Banksy has been working within the constraints of lockdown to produce a more intimate piece paying tribute to the NHS.
The elusive artist has created a piece called Game Changer that has gone on display, nicely framed, in a corridor at Southampton general hospital.
It shows a boy dressed in dungarees playing with a nurse superhero toy, with figures of Batman and Spider-Man discarded in a bin.
I’m not going to take anything away from nurses. They work hard and many are putting themselves at risk, but this is about pushing the “blank slate” button of the left. This is their dream, to have boys playing with dollies and babies rather than Iron Man. It won’t work, of course, however much you think of nurses, Iron Man can fly faster than a plane, shoot multiple bad guys at the same time and be funny. And that’s the stuff boys like.
But Banksy knows his market.