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Ghetto For Life, October 2013


Ghetto For Life


Ghetto For Life

Date: 22 October 2013
Location: Bronx, New-York, USA
Ghetto For Life appeared in South Bronx, New-York, on 22 October 2013, as part of Banksy‘s one-month Residency in New-York, Better Out Than In.
This typical Banksy‘s mural portrays a young boy working on a graffiti slogan saying “Ghetto 4 Life”. The striking part of the visual is the way this young boy is dressed, which does not appear consistent with what one thinks a young boy from the ghetto would dress, and on top of that, it seems he is accompanied with a butler ready to serve some kind of refreshments…
Maybe more than any other mural, it ignited a vivid debate over the word “Ghetto”. As usual with Banksy, the location is part of the message, as this mural appeared in South Bronx and it provoked strong reaction from locals. Sustainable South Bronx may have sold t-shirts that say “Green the ghetto,” and others who live or work in the South Bronx may sometimes refer to their neighborhoods as “the ghetto” but many didn’t like hearing that word from a white artist with no Bronx roots…

“When a white, billionaire British person like Banksy says ‘ghetto,’ it can sound offensive because it is associated with people of color, so he should have been more careful with the choice of words because the context changes the meaning” said Jeffrey Guard, director of The Bronx Art Exchange, an organization that promotes art in the area.
“Overall I think it is a great piece” said How, who along with his twin brother Nosm, is a member of Tats Cru, which is based in Hunts Point. “It is a powerful, critical yet satirical take to bring attention to the life of the so-called ‘minority’ neighborhoods, he said. “Banksy smartly provokes and so he creates a dialogue among his followers.”
Justin Dapena, a college student who spent some time staring at the mural, said he thought that sometimes a foreigner sees reality in a different way from locals. “Banksy came here, and he saw a ghetto” he said. “Why make a big deal out of it? His mural doesn’t have to be ‘the’ truth. It is ‘his’ truth and that’s why I like the piece.”
As they looked at the painting, high school students said they do live in a “ghetto,” but not the ghetto portrayed by Banksy. “Caucasian people think that a ‘ghetto’ is a dirty place, with low class criminals,” said Robinson, “but, for me, the ghetto is my home: it is not negative; it is part of who we are.”