Banksy, reality of the slow deterioration of

Banksy, a veryprestigious and anonymous artist, is renowned for his social awarenesspaintings. Noticed in the late 1990’s, Banksy has continuously shocked thepublic with the depth in his work and is now the most famous street artist inour time. In 2010, Banksy created a moving piece calling attention toenvironmental awareness in Detroit, Michigan and the  financial decline that the city has beenfacing. The mural was amply executed on a wall of what was once the Packardautomobile plant, but is now surrounded rubble and ash. The abandoned plant isalso home to a community of homeless people, a number of scrapped cars andboats and is dangerously unstable. The profound image of a young AfricanAmerican boy standing among the debris with the words, “I remember when allthis was trees,” painted in bright red next to him. The boy is holding a redpaint can and paintbrush, so the audience is aware of the culprit.

He standsthere with a deadpan expression, appearing to be looking the viewer in theeyes, confronting them on the reality of the slow deterioration of the worldaround them. Banksy’s Detroit project “I remember when all this wastrees” provides a disturbing yet sincere view of the eradication of theearth on account of human conduct and the variety of techniques involving colorand placement used to arouse his audience in a certain way.  The placement ofBanksy’s pieces are not accidental or random. There are countless neglectedbuildings in Detroit but Packard automobile plant is the most famous. The3,500,000 square foot facility has no owner and as much as the city would liketo take care of it, the amount of money and labor to clean-up the sight isimmoderate. This piece is Banksy’s take on the financial deprivation ofDetroit.

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It portrays what post-industrial wasteland looks like and was placedthere in that particular city to move them towards a better future. It is notso much an attack on their past but a warning for their life to come.Furthermore, Banksy’s work is seen by eyes all over the world and invites themto be uncomfortable in recognizing the message behind his works and apply themto their own cities.

The meaning of this piece can be interpreted in variousways such as the unpleasant acknowledgement of the turmoil and deteriorationthat has plagued the city  and to alsoimplore the residents of the city to move toward a better future.  Before the earth wasovergrown with concrete cities and restless pedestrians, it was overgrown withtrees. The vast horizon was mere vegetation and wildlife for as far as the eyecould see. Gradually, however, humans built upon the land and settled amongstthe forests, carving into it for their convenience. Thousands of years later,there are scientists, activists, and artists moving towards a greener futureand spreading awareness on the fundamental issue. Banksy clearly incorporatedthis cognizance into his art in Detroit. Looking further into the work, there are trees and plants in thebackground and among the rubble. This piece was not only intended to show thedisarray of the abandoned plant, but to present the unbending fact that naturewill continue to  grow and return to it’svegetative state even after everything that society has built on top of it hascrumbled away.

However, the shrubs are not plentiful, showing the fragility andprocess of life. It’s easy to be torn down but it takes years to rebuild.  There is a humanversus nature complex involved within this piece. The central figure in thispiece is a child, armed with a paintbrush and can in attempt to call attentionto this issue. The future of the planet is in the hands of children, growing upto take the places of their parents. Now, in a controversial sense, a child istoo young to have lived when it was all trees.

The idea of making a child theauthor of the words imprinted on the wall is perhaps a symbol of the innerchild of the inhabitants of the neglected auto plant and moreover the innerchild in us all. The audience is inclined to feel uneasy due to the bleak anddismal atmosphere that the painting instigates. Although the picture portrays ayoung boy, it is not meant for adolescents. This image has a distinctive effecton parents because bringing a child into the world translates to trusting theworld to be a safe and functioning place to live in as they grow old. Urbanareas continue to expand and this young boy illustrates the possible outcome oftheir children’s future.  There is a compellingsignificance in the colors Banksy uses and the effects it has on the viewers.The boy is clad in all black from head to toe, excluding his hands and face.

The boldness and strength of this piece coincides with the fact that it is againsta white background, where black is most profound. Black is also a color oftenassociated with death or evil and is quite fitting in this setting of wreckageand may be also symbolizing the death of the trees. There is palpable contrastin this piece as well. There is a black shadow that appears on the left side ofthe boys face and assumingly down the rest of his body. This could suggestsomething as simple as it getting dark and being that it is an abandonedbuilding it will be pitch black.

  A morecomplex take on the shadow is that is represents the issue implementinginternal conflict within the character that follows him around until the issueis resolved.   Banksy has left hismark on cities from New Orleans to Hong Kong and will continue to do so inhopes for inspiring change. A world-renowned mystery man who has driven artactivism to notoriety. The image of the young boy standing amongst the debrisis so powerful and moves the audience to take a second look.

The expression onhis face speaks for the painting itself. It is a compelling stare that speakslouder than the words painted next to him: “I remember when all this wastrees.”  


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