Banksy shared a clip on YouTube and Instagram this week, a collection of coronavirus-themed street art on the London Tube (their subway system). The clip shows him entering the train car, tagging it up, and leaving his unique art in place.
My favorite aspect of this Banksy work is how he pays homage to Chumbawamba’s 1993 hit ‘Tubthumbing’ where he painted ‘I get lockdown’ on the station wall and ‘But I get up again’ on the train’s door, the message displayed just above some of his iconic pieces.
The work was titled ‘If You Don’t Mask, You Don’t Get’ and it features several rats which have become symbolic of plague across the planet ever since the Bubonic Plague swept across Europe, Asia, and Africa in the 14th Century and killed an estimated 50 million people (est. 25-60% of Europe’s population at the time).
Banksy gets to work fast on this piece, getting in and out of there pretty quickly. Check it out:
Unfortunately, according to the BBC the piece was already removed several days ago. Transport for London (TfL) told the BBC the Banksy art was removed as part of their “strict anti-graffiti policy”. They did follow up with an invitation for Banksy to do a similar piece in a more suitable location:
The statement from TfL said it appreciated “the sentiment of encouraging people to wear face coverings”.
“We’d like to offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location,” it added.
The BBC has asked if the travel authority worked with Banksy on this artwork and, if not, whether his actions posed a security risk. (via)
I’ve been waiting to see how a lot of the Arts community will respond to the past several months. I’m curious what the coming years of Music, Prints, Fashion, and Street Art will look like in the wake of coronavirus. I suspect we’re in for a pretty wild few years from the Arts but I also hope that’s not just wishful thinking.