Banksy™ Duck & Cover
Release Price: GBP 500
In this humorous take on the classic 1970s interior decoration stereotype of the three flying ducks, Banksy has made three small scale models of unmanned drones that can be affixed to a wall. Shown in a duck formation, however, Banksy has replaced gentle birds with lethal weapons – the very weapons Western societies now use to kill and destroy from the safety and comfort of their own base.
Warfare a recurring topic in Banksy’s oeuvre, with a clear criticism of our contemporary society’s inclination towards warfare. Banksy has approached this topic from many different angles, whether it be examining figures of power and authority, or startling and offputting depictions of the impact of war in our societies. For example, in Applause, Banksy criticizes the trivialization of warfare as if it was a TV show aired 24/7 in various media for the public to watch and enjoy. Napalm is another fantastic example of the horror as well as the true human cost of war. Flanked by Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald, Phan Thi Kim Phuc is shown crying as she suffers from napalm burns as well as the fact that her village and life as she knew it had been destroyed in an instant. It is certainly one of Banksy’s more jarring and shocking pieces – viewers can’t deny the issue, and it leaves one with an overwhelming sense of discomfort.
In Duck & Cover, the artist comments on the damage done by the extensive fighting in the Middle East that has persisted throughout his lifetime. Through the advancement of weapons technology, these conflicts have become more brutal than ever, and have become possible to do without fighting in the trenches as has been the case throughout history. Now, weapons can be operated from many, many miles away – which makes the violence less “real” to the people waging this war, in a sense because they are not forced to see the consequences of their actions firsthand. They’re able to carry out mass destruction from the safety and comfort of a location far away; it’s almost as easy as ordering something off the internet.
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Demonstrating his typical wit in the face of horror, in this work Banksy manages to both deride the history of violence we find ourselves steeped in while at the same time providing an amusing distraction to the depressing subject, he has brought our attention to. In this way he is reflecting the constant dichotomy that traps us between 24-hour news cycles and endless cat memes.
In Bomb Middle England, Banksy shows another distraction for the Elite, who are launching bombs as if they were simply playing boules, indifferent to any of the consequences – a fun thing to do on the weekend with their aristocratic friends.
Bomb Middle England, 2003
Screen-print on paper