Yesterday, Banksy, a street artist with notoriously disputed identity, posted on Instagram the images of his trademark rats that are now—presumably—stuck at home with him. The caption for the posts is simple and relatable, “My wife hates it when I work from home.”
The rats are making a royal mess in what is, ostensibly, Banksy’s bathroom—the installation depicts rats darting off a toothpaste tube, running on toilet paper, swinging off the towel racks, and, most endearing, tally marking the days of the quarantine on the walls.
Banksy’s artistic production tends to oscillate between socio-political satire and outright artistic subversion: “Devolved Parliament,” Banksy’s painting depicting Members of Parliament as chimpanzees in the House of Commons, is one of the notable examples of the former; the stunt with the shredding of his “Balloon Girl” during its sale at Sotheby’s, is a hilarious and outrageous instance of the latter.
The fun with rats, as humorous commentary, is dead-on. It is telling that Banksy, who is famous for invalidating the established and often unjust order, chose humor rather than his usual satire in this very trying time. Yet, with art being inaccessible for most of us right now other than in its digitally reproduced form, one is right to wait, with bated breath, for more to come from this master of iconoclastic gesture. Who but Banksy could be counted on to devise a move that will make art visible, while on quarantine?