Not even the coronavirus can keep Banksy (or his art) down.
The underground anonymous graffiti artist surfaced again, this time, actually underground on London’s tube (or, as we Yankees like to call it “the subway”). Disguised as a cleaner, Banksy gained access to an all-but empty underground train and, while it zapped along the railway, he took his time inside, spray-painting his iconic rats all over the train car.
Of course, these weren’t just any rats — these were COVID rats. Banksy painted them sneezing, spraying snot-matter onto the windows, or using medical masks as parachutes. He painted his own name in big snot-green dripping graffiti letters and even left a note on one of the subway doors: I get lockdown, but I get up again.
Anyway, the impromptu art gallery on rails was short lived. No sooner than Banksy shared a video of the art stunt, did the Transport of London (TfL) mobilize actual cleaners to go get rid of it. Never mind the fact that the graffiti likely increased the value of that train by tenfold. Never mind that the art, is actually a PSA, meant to remind and encourage people to wear face masks.
The TfL has strict policies against graffiti on its trains, and Banksy’s art is no exception. They washed away any trace of the street artist and his work, within a day of it going up. What a shame.
TfL has added that they would be excited to “offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location."
However, I think they might have blown their shot on that one, when they scrubbed his original piece off before anyone could really enjoy it.
That’s the nature of street art, though: it’s both illegal and ephemeral. It never lasts long, but it isn’t meant to.