Art critique

Banksy’s Brexit mural disappears as UK tension increases art criticism

A mural painted by street artist Banksy in protest against Brexit went missing last weekend from its site on a three-story building in Dover, England. A four-level scaffolding was built against the mural on Saturday, leaving the facade sterile the next morning. According to the Telegraph, the Godden family who owned the building hoped to sell the piece for $ 1 million and use the proceeds to benefit charities. CNN reported that many residents of Dover lamented the removal of the controversial work. “On behalf of the people of Dover, I would like to deplore the erasure of our Banksy. World-class cultural vandalism, ”tweeted Dover resident Peter Garstin.

London, March 2019. Sandro Cenni. Stop the Brexit March. My legs are tired.

The mural showed a worker in a monochrome dress munching on one of the twelve yellow stars of the blue flag of the European Union. The cracks left by the worker’s chisel evoked glass, symbolizing both the fragile relations between European nations and the serious repercussions of Brexit. Important ferry port between France and the United Kingdom, the Dover site still echoes the divergent trends in the contemporary political landscapes of the two countries: Emmanuel Macron, the young French pro-European Union candidate, won the presidential election of his country in May 2017 – same month of appearance of the work; in contrast, the artistic intervention preceded a British vote in favor of former Prime Minister Theresa May’s difficult Brexit negotiations with the EU.

The disappearance of the Banksy mural comes at an equally turbulent time: just two months before the UK’s official exit from the EU, new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced his intention to suspend Parliament until October 14. While being touted as standard procedure, the break sparked protests across the European Union.

The UK decided to leave the European Union when only 17 of 30 million people voted in the referendum, which only favored Brexit by a 4% margin. Brexit was originally scheduled to leave the EU by March 29, 2019. However, the UK’s departure conditions have been rejected three times by the UK parliament, causing two delays from the original date. Boris Johnson has shortened the deadline for Parliament to consider and revise a Brexit deal, which now has a strict deadline of October 31.

Citizens across the UK have expressed anger over Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament and have expressed concern over the October deadline on social media. According to a Guardian correspondent, “up to 5,000 people have marched through Bristol. Some held up homemade signs with slogans such as “I have the right to be represented” and “chamocracy” as the crowd chanted “Stop the coup” and “Boris, Boris, Boris – out. , outside, outside. ”

Banksy, “Keep Ou,” 2019. Photo: David Parry / Royal Academy of Arts.

While the guerrilla artist has a long history of creating compelling political artwork that references events and policies in Europe, he continues to highlight the impact of Brexit. The summer exhibition at the Royal Academy featured his latest work titled Keep Or. The coin features an arch recovered from Heathrow Airport. The modified customs gate is closed, with the words KEEP OR boldly painted on it. At the bottom of the artwork, visitors can spot the missing ‘T’ used by a rat – painted in Banksy’s signature stencil style – to break the padlock.

Besides Banksy, other authors continue to react against the push for sovereignty in an increasingly globalized world. Recent global waves of nationalism have divided societies, strained relations and fervent fear. We need artists like Banksy to create interventions that force people to question what’s going on and trigger action.


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