The words “Banksy” and “For Sale” are hardly ever uttered in the same breath. When they are, expect to find some sort of elaborate art concept/prank attached, like that time Banksy set a 1.4 million dollar painting to self-shred once the gavel dropped at a Sotheby’s auction house last year. Well, the UK’s merry prankster is at it again — though this time it seems to be more of a make-lemonade-from-lemons situation than an outright commentary on the artificial value of art.
That isn’t to say there is no overall message involved, this is Banksy we’re talking about. The man likes everything served with a dose of commentary.
This morning, the elusive artists announced Gross Domestic Product, a temporary installation on view for two weeks in the South London neighborhood of Croydon that will incorporate multiple window displays featuring homewares exclusively shoppable through an online store. GDP is a commentary on the excess and exploitation of capitalism, with items depicting forced human migration, animal exploitation, and the surveillance state — like welcome mats stitched from life jackets, disco ball adorned riot gear, and an area rug featuring Tony the Tiger.
The shop has come about as a result of a legal dispute between Banksy and a greetings card company that is contesting the trademark of Banksy’s art in order to sell greeting cards featuring famous Banksy imagery. In a statement regarding GDP, Banksy, or someone close enough to speak for the artist, explains:
GDP is a homewares brand from Banksy and this is our first and only store. The showroom is for display purposes only and the doors will not open. All sales will be conducted online when the website opens soon.
This shop has come about as a result of legal action. A Greeting cards company are trying to seize legal custody of the name Banksy from the artist, who has been advised the best way to present this is to sell his own range of branded merchandise.
So here it is — we hope to offer something for everyone, prices start from £10 but availability will be limited — all of these products are hand made in the UK using existing or recycled materials whenever possible. Including the ideas.
According to This is Colossal, Banksy clarifies, “I still encourage anyone to copy, borrow, steal and amend my art for amusement and academic research or activism. I just don’t want them to get sole custody of my name.”
Revenue from the sales of the products will go directly to several causes and organizations that collaborated with Banksy on the artwork. The life jacket welcome mats were stitched together by Greek detainment camp refugees and all proceeds of the sale for the mats will go straight to them. The sale of a doll set depicting forced migration will go directly to the purchase of a replacement boat for Pia Klemp, a human rights activist whose ships have helped save 14 thousand migrants from drowning during the ongoing European-migrant crisis, one of which was confiscated by the Italian government in 2017. Not sure who gets the money for the Tony the Tiger area rug, but it’s safe to assume it won’t be Kellog’s.