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Choose Your Weapon, October 2010


Choose Your Weapon


Choose Your Weapon

Date: October 2010
Location: The Grange, London, England
Choose Your Weapon first appeared on a wall of The Grange Pub, in Bermondsey, London, in 2010. Shortly after the stencil appeared, it was boarded over, only to reappear shortly thereafter, framed and covered with perspex.
Choose Your Weapon, also known as CYW, is a portrayal of British disaffected youth and gang culture whose aggressive dogs have become weaponry in their quest for power. The naïve style of the dog further evokes the detachment to the reality of a weapons ability. And obviously a clear direct homage to Keith Haring and his famous “barking dog”.
The hooded man’s menacing appearance is contrasted by his casual hand-in-the-pocket posture and his big barking cartoon dog. The connotation in much of the media at the time, and in Banksy’s own interpretation, is that the dog has become an alternative weapon on the streets of the UK.
The minimalist animal, painted in a hieroglyphic all-white silhouette, contrasts with the hyper-realistic representation of his master. The style of Banksy’s dog pays tribute to the famous Barking Dog by Keith Haring. Maybe Banksy invites us to “Choose Our Weapon,” for peace and freedom. Like Banksy, Haring too rose to prominence through his graffiti drawings, making him an important influence for the street artist. Indeed, one can also see this visual as an illustration of the artist’s power in using his art and talent to convey messages.
Shortly after, Banksy released a screen-print on paper, which is one of the top sellers today. It was released in multiple colorways, which make it a very fun and impactful print.
CYW was released by Pictures on Walls at their East London gallery, Marks & Stencils in Soho and through an online lottery.
Choose Your Weapon (Grey), 2010
Screen-print in colors on wove paper with full margins
70×70 cm (27 1/2 x 27 1/2 inches)

Keith Haring’s Barking Dog

The “Barking Dog” featuring colorful canines with their mouths open mid-yap is one of Keith Haring‘s most universally recognizable symbols, and remains a testament to his dedication to accessible art.

“Art is nothing if you don’t reach every segment of the people.”

The dog’s simple, cartoonish shape references Haring’s interest in Egyptian hieroglyphics, an example of how humans communicate their experiences through universal shapes and signs. Haring’s “Barking Dogs” can be found throughout his body of work, from some of his early Subway Drawings to merchandise sold in his Pop Shops. In 1990, just a few months before his early death, Haring chose to immortalize his “Barking Dog” motif alongside four of his most celebrated symbols in a series of lithographs entitled “Icons” cementing the graphic canine as one of the most important symbols in his body of work.