Paparazzi Rat, 2004
Stencil spray-paint on canvas
40×40 cm (15 3/4 x 15 3/4 inches)
From a series, unique in this format
Stencil signature on the overlap
Further signed and dated “04” on the stretcher
Banksy’s relationship with the media and with the concept of “celebrity” has always been a complex one. On one hand, he is without a doubt once of the best-known artists of the modern age; on the other he remains anonymous, an art world outsider who refuses to play the game. It is fair to assume that Banksy has no interest in being famous, even though he has managed to become just that.
Works like Paparazzi Rat explore this odd dynamic. The media is essential to Banksy’s work, allowing the issues that concern him to be disseminated widely. His images on the Israeli West Bank wall and his Guantanamo Bay prisoner installation at Disney reached a global audience almost as soon as they are completed. The media, however, is a double-edged sword, and our current obsession with celebrity culture is surely an anathema to Banksy. Paparazzi Rat addresses this dichotomy. Usually celebrated as the underdog in the artist’s work, here as a camera-wielding rodent it adopts a more sinister role.