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The Banality of the Banality of Evil, 2013


The Banality of the Banality of Evil, 2013
Medium: Unknown
Dimensions: Unknown

This work is part of Banksy’s one-month residency in New-York entitled Better Out Than In.

It all started with an old painting located at Housing Works Thrift Shop on 157 E 23rd Street. It seems that Banksy had purchased it, only to modify it and to return it to its original place of sale. As with much of Banksy’s work, this is a significantly philosophical and political piece, with the modification being the addition of a Nazi officer on a bench in front of a scenic landscape…

Housing Works is an AIDS/HIV charity which supports low-income sufferers into homes and with care. We can only assume that this is an issue that Banksy purposefully wanted to draw attention to and we suspect that all proceeds from the sale of the piece will indeed go towards this good cause. The modified work was shown in the window of the Housing Works thrift shop in Manhattan’s Gramercy neighborhood.
A “thrift story painting vandalized then re-donated to the thrift store,” according to the official Banksy site.
Repurposing a thrift store painting for a Nazi-emblazoned oil-on-oil-on-canvas offering, the piece is a reference to famed Jewish German-American political theorist Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil – a 1963 publication that followed her reporting for The New Yorker on the infamous trial of Holocaust organizer and Nazi lieutenant colonel, Adolf Eichmann. The piece would seemingly suggest that the artist’s thinking falls in line with that of many contemporary political theorists and their rejection of the “banality of evil” – the idea that many of history’s great evils, instead of being carried out by fanatics or sociopaths, were instead done by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and thus their actions, as “normal.”
Donated back to the shop from which it came, The Banality of the Banality of Evil, according to a number of sources, has been up for auction by East 23rd Street’s Housing Works Thrift Shop. But, as it is often the case with Banksy, there is a lot of controversy around what exactly happened…