Banksy, the famed graffiti artist, has launched a surprise art installation in Croydon. The exhibit, in an empty retail space underneath Pure Gym in Croydon town centre, first appeared on Monday with many since queuing to view the new and original pieces.
The installation, described as a reaction to his ongoing dispute with a greeting card company, was announced by Banksy on Instagram with the artist advising it was best to “view at night” with the most noteworthy feature of the exhibit being the Union Jack stab vest worn by rap artist Stormzy during his debut Glastonbury headline set, designed by the artist specifically for the performance.
Entitled “Gross Domestic Product”, the exhibit concept is based around a pop-up store selling Banksy memorabilia with ‘products’ including a baby mobile that comes with extensive CCTV security, a refugee toy lorry playset, a high-end brick handbag, a police helmet disco ball, a welcome mat made from the “abandoned life vests of migrants crossing the Mediterranean” and a painting of Dumbo killed by members of Islamic State.
Guarded by “store employees”, each piece featured also has an item listing showcasing Banksy’s usual dose of humorous political satire, with an “Ultra HD TV” painted with an image of a child sticking their tongue out in snow, being described as “perfect for the snowflake generation”, a homage to iconic American artist Jean Michael Basquiat entitled“Banksquiat” being designed to question the “relentless commodification of Basquiat-by adding to the relentless commodification of Basquiat” and a rug made from “Tony the Tiger” who it states “died of diabetes”.
The project was shrouded in secrecy, with an unidentified “employee” telling Eastlondonlines that none of the workers were aware of the nature of the work they would be doing before they started, and did not know who their “employer” was either.
Banksy’s latest activity comes in the same week as the auction of his 2009 painting, Devolved Parliament, which is expected to fetch more than £1.5 million, and follows on from similar residencies in Weston-Super-Mare (with Dismaland in 2015) and New York in 2018.
It is not yet clear how long the exhibit will be available in Croydon for, but is expected to be a very temporary fixture on Croydon’s high street.