The world famous graffiti artist, Banksy, is known for his snarky social commentary. Banksy’s public artwork provides a commentary on many social issues, including consumerism, poverty, and recently, environmentalism. His brash graffiti criticizes companies and society for not challenging our social norms. Banksy’s art serves to stir a reaction from the public and, more so, have individuals question the current state of society. After searching Banksy’s environmental works I was inspired by his gutsy art. Throughout this article I will feature some of Banksy’s environmental graffiti and give my interpretation of the art. Feel free to include your interpretation!
Arctic sea ice is declining at a rate of 11.5% per decade and contributes to a 3.16mm sea rise around the world every year. Consequently, since 1980, 4.39 million square kilometres of Arctic sea ice have melted due to warming waters. Banksy’s art-piece below cleverly demonstrates the annual rise in sea levels. This ironic and strategic art piece serves to convince skeptics of global warming with a visually convincing set-up. As the water level slowly rises, the denial of global warming disappears- a simple yet brilliant message.
We all surely remember the catastrophic BP oil spill in 2010. As a result of this spill, more than 200 million gallons of crude oil were pumped into the Gulf of Mexico. This event heavily polluted miles of the waterway and killed thousands of creatures. In response to BP’s oil spill and, more generally, human influence on marine wildlife, Banksy has converted a kiddie ride into meaningful art (see image below).
The next Banksy image, entitled “The Death Boat,” depicts the mythical figure Charon, who ferries the souls of the dead across the river of Styx to the afterworld. The image of Charon is strategically placed on an oil tanker that transports oil overseas. Banksy is sending the message that our reliance on oil will inevitably come to an end- but what are the effects in the meantime? The damage done to the planet via this dirty resource is contributing to our uncertain future. If we do not change our ways and adopt renewable resources we will be hitching a ride on Charon’s vessel. Many of our resources come from non-renewable sources, the most prominent being oil. With risk of spills during transport and widespread pollution during use, our addiction to oil costs more than we know.
Banksy’s art-piece “Gasbird” suggests that animals are becoming entangled with our unnatural ways. The pure wild is now tainted by our need for development and use of pollution-causing resources. The impact of global warming and continuing human development on Earth has undoubtedly affected wildlife. How long can wildlife survive the threats posed by global warming? Why do they have to endure these threats?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not promoting marking up buildings, wrecking others’ property, and causing public mischief; however, the social messages from Banksy strongly influence public perception. Persuading passers-by, even for a split second, that environmental issues matter is a valuable repercussion of Banksy’s artwork. It is nearly impossible to ignore Banksy’s extravagant messages, but why? Is it the grandeur of his art? Is it the avant-garde style? I find it incredible that one person can secretively create these pungent protests in such an eloquent way. Banksy’s portrait of a desperate world can be quite frightening, but can also be a catalyst for change. I would love to hear your opinion on Banksy’s graffiti- let me know what you think!
Facts courtesy of NeoMam Infographic Agency.