Our physical access to the outside world is more limited than ever before, and the endless stream of television is beginning to feel as though it’s running a little dry. The natural response to this has been a push for introspection, and an ambitious desire for self-improvement.
Even Banksy, one of Britain’s most famous street-artists, has shown an impressive amount of flexibility. On 15th April a new piece was unveiled through his Instagram. Captioned “My wife hates it when I work from home.” The post shows painted rats wreaking havoc in the artist’s own bathroom; running on the toilet roll, hanging from the mirrors and inaccurately marking tallies upon the wall – presumably and rather dramatically - equating the lockdown to the constraint of a prison.
Banksy's strength is in simplicity. He has a knack for condensing complex political messages into accessible works.
Banksy's work has always been in some way political. In 2015, the iconic ‘The Son of a Migrant from Syria’ sprang up in Calais, France on a wall by the migrant camps. It called for a deeper sense of compassion for those entangled in the refugee crisis by depicting Apple CEO Steve Jobs (the son of a Syrian migrant) carrying his possessions in a battered sack. More recently, the auction-house shredding of the painting ‘Balloon Girl’ in 2018 mischievously poked fun at the turtleneck-wearing-black-cigarette-smoking-organic-macchiato-coffee-sipping pretentions of the art establishment.
Yet Banksy’s piece doesn’t need to be so specific in its artistic or political message to have value. The painting of his trademark rats in such an explicitly domestic and intimate setting does enough to articulate 'Lockdown' in its essence.
The rats, Banksy's trademark political characters, have been reduced to quite literally hanging around the house.
The implications of specific government policy has now, more than ever in recent history, directly impacted the daily routine of the nation. These rats have always been political characters, and now they are reduced to quite literally hanging around the house.