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Mixed Media, 2019
Banksy™ Shredded Tee from his 2019 Gross Domestic Product line references the infamous self-destruction of his Girl with Balloon painting at a Sotheby’s auction in 2018. The plain white tee features the original, iconic Girl with Balloon design with the bottom cut into fringes.
'The same played-out old image, this time attacked with a knife by the artist. On-trend consumers might be aware that Vogue magazine calls ‘fringing’ a ‘hot trend’ this season. Shame we don’t ship until Christmas. Screen print on fair trade tee. Probably not really machine washable now. Shredded Tee is a Gross Domestic Product by Banksy and is a screen print on fair trade t-shirt.' - Gross Domestic Product.
When a painting of Banksy’s famous Girl With Balloon design was put up for auction at Sotheby’s in 2018, no one batted an eyelid. Works by the artist were common on the secondary market but this one was different. As the hammer came down at £1.04 million, the painting began to self destruct, appearing to slip down inside the frame only to come out the other side in shreds. The stunt made headlines around the world, sparking thousands of likes, views and comments on social media and YouTube. Sotheby’s senior director Alex Branczik famously commented “It appears we just got Banksy-ed”. Shortly after the stunt Banksy himself released a video revealing how he had installed a shredding device into the work ‘in case it was ever put up for auction’ which confirmed speculation that the work was intended as a joke on the secondary market which profits from Banksy’s work while the artist himself receives nothing from sales.
In order to counteract this imbalance perhaps, Banksy opened Gross Domestic Product, his own ‘homewares brand’ in October 2019. The online shop employed a kind of lottery cum questionnaire system to sell his artworks/products to those who he deemed worthy of buying them rather than allowing people to just buy for investment. Read more.
This product from the shop, the shredded tee, cleverly references the famous shredding incident by presenting the original artwork on a plain white tee whose bottom has been cut to ribbons in the fringed style seen all over the high street in summer months. With characteristic Banksy wit the original description claimed the piece was ‘The same played-out old image, this time attacked with a knife by the artist. On-trend consumers might be aware that Vogue magazine calls ‘fringing’ a ‘hot trend’ this season. Shame we don’t ship until Christmas.’
Girl With Balloon began life as a mural on London’s Southbank before becoming an icon, reproduced all over the world on tee shirts, mugs and posters as well as unauthorised prints. The present work can be seen as an attempt to reclaim ownership of the image along with another version of the tee shirt that was sold on the site, this time featuring the little girl reaching for a balloon that had become a real pendant intended to be worn by the buyer over the tee shirt.
Though now a somewhat cliched image, the power of the original design still resonates, the girl’s dismay at not being able to reach her balloon representing the powerlessness of thousands unable to achieve their hopes and dreams in a society that holds them down.
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