Banksy: Masked London Underground rats get scrubbed – DW (English)

August 31, 2022

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The British street artist unveiled his latest street art: masked, sneezing rats in a London subway. Since removed, the work has gone viral on social media.

The value of the “graffiti” notwithstanding, it was soon scrubbed off the subway cars

The Bristol-based artist Banksy has been at it again, on Tuesday (14.07.2020) releasing a video on Instagram titled “London Underground undergoes a deep clean,” in which he enters a subway train dressed as a masked cleaner wearing high vis (with a “stay safe” logo on the front) but instead proceeds to stencil a series of his signature rats across the carriage walls.   
The work, titled If you don’t ask, you don’t get and posted to Banky’s Instagram account, shows one rat grappling to apply a blue mask and another parachuting with a mask. Another rodent sneezes, spraying droplets marked out in light blue paint — an apparent reference to the aerosols that spread the coronavirus.  
‘I get lockdown’
The same blue paint was used for Banky’s tag, and for writing “I get lockdown” across the station wall, to be read before doors reading “But I get up again” close in the foreground. The doors also feature two rats. The sequence concludes the video to the lyrics “I get knocked down, but I get up again,” from the 1997 hit “Tubthumping” by UK band Chumbawamba. 
Read moreArrests made in theft of Banksy’s Paris artwork
The artwork was soon taken down because it was adjudged to be graffiti. 
“We appreciate the sentiment of encouraging people to wear face coverings, which the vast majority of customers on our transport network are doing,” said Transport for London in a statement.
“In this particular case, the work was removed some days ago due to our strict anti-graffiti policy.”
Banksy was also offered the “chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location.” 
The video of Banksy’s rats in the underground quickly went viral, generating 3 million views on Instagram in a less than a day
Stay at home advocacy
The world renowned street artist, who has yet to reveal his identity, has been advocating for better awareness about coronavirus and ways to combat its spread. His work in Bristol, Girl with a Pierced Eardrum, was updated with a blue surgical face mask in April — though the action wasn’t documented by Banksy himself on social media. A week earlier, he had stencilled rats scampering around a bathroom instead of on the streets as a symbol of the need to stay at home.
And in May at University Hospital Southampton in southern England, Banksy painted a young boy who holds up a nurse as his superhero instead of Batman or Spiderman. An acknowledgment of the heroic work of frontline National Health Service workers, it was titled Painting for Saints and was posted with the caption “Game Changer” on Banksy’s Instagram site. 
A partially shredded canvas of one of Banksy’s most celebrated works could sell for millions at Sotheby’s in October 2021. “Love is in the Bin,” formerly called “Girl With Balloon,” has an estimated selling price of $6 to 8 million (€5 to 7 million). After the sale of the original canvas in 2018, the painting began to self-destruct in a shredder hidden in its frame moments after bidding ended.
This artwork appeared on a wall in Nicholas Everitt Park, in Lowestoft, England, on August 7. While it was quickly believed to be a new work by Banksy, the elusive street artist confirmed a week later through an Instagram post that he was responsible for it, along with a series of new works in different English seaside coastal towns, which he dubbed “A Great British Spraycation.”
Banksy has funded a boat to rescue refugees trying to cross from North Africa to Europe. The Louise Michel, named after a 19th-century French feminist anarchist, is covered with pink paint and the street artist’s graffiti. According to “The Guardian,” 89 people were rescued in one day in 2020. Since the beginning of 2020, at least 500 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
A vigil candle sets fire to the US flag: Banksy revealed in June 2020 on Instagram a painting commenting on George Floyd’s killing and honoring the Black Lives Matter movement. “People of color are being failed by the system. The white system,” the artist wrote. “This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in,” he added.
Spiderman and Batman are yesterday’s superheroes: This little boy prefers to play with a nurse wearing a face mask and a cape. With this picture revealed at the beginning of May 2020, Banksy paid tribute to the outstanding contribution of doctors, nurses and hospital workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In December 2019, Banksy posted a video showing his mural of reindeer taking off — but instead of Santa’s sleigh in tow, it’s a man lying on a bench, to draw attention to the plight of the homeless. “God bless Birmingham,” the artist wrote. “In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench, passersby gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter — without him ever asking for anything.”
The elusive street artist created in 2009 “Devolved Parliament,” featuring chimps instead of politicians in the British Parliament. Amid the chaos caused by Brexit, the work embodies the country’s political atmosphere. The 2.8 x 4.5-meter (around 9 x 15-foot) painting was auctioned off in London in October 2019 for 9.8 million pounds (around €11 million).
The millions of pounds that “Devolved Parliament” reaped in October also sparked criticism, with no information about the buyer provided. Likewise in October, Banksy installed artwork in a closed shop in London as a commentary, saying that artworks at auction had become the property of the rich rather being the common property of people at large.
Banksy is one of the most famous street artists in the world, yet his true identity remains under wraps. Paintings or drawings on paper are rare creations of his. Instead, the British artist sprays most of his works anonymously on buildings, walls and demolition ruins. Such street art is not for sale.
A recurring theme in his works is the predatory nature of global capitalism. Banksy sprayed this mural in the entrance area of the refugee camp in Calais, France. Depicted is the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, carrying his legendary first Mac computer. The father of Jobs hailed from Syria.
Banksy addressed the Brexit debate in the UK with this work back in 2017. Overnight, this picture appeared on the wall of a house not far from the ferry port in Dover ferry port: It shows a man standing on a ladder trying to remove one of the EU stars with a hammer and chisel. The image has meanwhile disappeared from the wall, with someone having whitewashed it.
The British street artist has also addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2017, Banksy opened The Walled Off Hotel, an actual hotel featuring his artworks, in Bethlehem right next to the controversial Israeli West Bank barrier. The artist has also left quite a few of his artworks throughout this historic town since 2005, drawing many tourists on a “Banksy Tour.”
One known fact about Banksy’s identity is that the world-famous artist comes from Bristol in southern England. He moved on to London at the end of the 1990s and began to spray his pictorial messages onto the walls of selected locations. Here, he was back in Bristol in 2016, leaving behind a mural at a English primary school in Whitchurch.
As an artist, Banksy has always been a visionary. In his wall works, he has often addressed the political problems of the future, such as global warming, as shown here. He created this sprayed message in London in 2009.
Banksy has also denounced the brutalization of the media, which jumps onto the bandwagon of sensationalism with regard to war and terrorist attack victims. This is depicted in this work entitled “Media at war,” which, like some of his other works, has not been sprayed onto a building wall, making it possible to exhibit it in a gallery, such as here in London in 2018.
Author: Heike Mund, Louisa Schaefer
Elusive UK artist Banksy’s new mural highlighting homelessness in the British city of Birmingham is now under 24/7 security monitoring after someone added red noses to the reindeer featured in the work. (11.12.2019)  
When artist Banksy half-destroyed his “Girl with Balloon” seconds after it sold for near €1.2 million ($1.37 million) at an auction in October, the artwork seemed headed for the wastebasket. Now it’s on show. (05.02.2019)  
A painting by British street artist Banksy depicting the UK Parliament populated by chimpanzees went on show Saturday before being auctioned. It’s expected to fetch up to $2.5 million (€2.28 million). (28.09.2019)  
The mural of a mourning girl where the November 2015 terrorist attack occurred in Paris was stolen in January last year. It has now reappeared in central Italy after a joint operation by French and Italian authorities. (10.06.2020)  
He works in secret and creates street art in urban spaces. He sometimes works on paper on commission. Banksy’s art comes with a hefty price tag. Collector Dirk Kronsbein has 45 of his works and is showing them in Munich. (14.04.2016)  
The most famous street artist on the planet holds no trademark on his works, but the enigmatic Briton definitely owns his identity, as a new exhibit shows.
Christie’s London sold a painting portraying a healthcare worker as a superhero for €19.5 million on Tuesday, the most ever paid for a work by Banksy, who donated the work to a Southhampton hospital last May.
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