We recently visited Bansky: Genius or Vandal?, a well-organized exhibit in NYC that explores the graffiti artist's works and ideas. For those who don't know him, Banksy is the pseudonym of a never-positively-identified English street artist. His signature technique is stenciling, and his subject matter is wildly subversive social and political commentary.
Sometimes he's witty and darky humorous:
Other times his work is raw, gritty and heartbreaking:
Bansky's art appears, usually with no warning, on walls, bridges, buildings, corners, dumpsters, and public transportation around the world:
Consumerism. Capitalism. Politics. War. Protest. Authority Figures (with which he has a problem, globally). The Surveillance State. Bansky accomplishes the remarkable feat of making that just-under-the-consciousness connection with the viewer: crystallizing ideas and concepts that one may "know" but never quite verbalize or think directly. For example, the uncomfortable disappointment we all sometimes experience after spending money. If you’ve ever bought a expensive something-or-other from <insert here - Prada, Chanel, Dior, etc.>, brought it home and felt weirdly deflated and vaguely swindled, well, Banksy is the artist for you:
But, as the title suggest, I want to talk about the rats, my favorite art in the exhibit:
Rats are a favorite subject matter of Bansky's. In his own words, rats "exist without permission. They are hated, hunted, and persecuted. They live in quiet desperation amongst the filth, and yet they are capable of bringing an entire civilization to its knees."
If you live in a big city, as I do, you see rats ALL THE TIME. In the subway, in the street, by dumpsters, in bodegas, at the Whole Foods meat counter. Most of us (me) are suitably grossed out, but this exhibit has given me a whole new perspective on this aspect of NYC wildlife. Rats, I am really sorry I judged you. Now that I've taken the time to think about it, you really are the "ultimate role model" (Banksy's words!). We should all hope to be so cunning and ingenious in finding our way around the system, to survive and thrive in any situation.
So, thanks to Banksy, I now know that RATS RULE:
PIGEONS are probably next, right?