Barcode is a signed screen print by British Street Artist Banksy and was released in 2004 in an edition of 600.
Banksy often employs a monochromatic palette to emphasise his powerful message and this black and white artwork is that signature stencil-style. It shows a majestic leopard in the foreground coming forth as if it was exiting the frame towards the viewer. Behind the leopard is a cage, which resembles a barcode from which the leopard seems to have escaped, given its bent bars.
Since Banksy’s beginnings in graffiti, he has been noted for his social commentary, taking on issues from police brutality, to the refugee crisis, war and animal cruelty. Here Banksy might be commenting on the way in which humans 'use' the environment and those creatures within it for their own entertainment or amusement – the most notable example of course, being zoos or sea-parks. The motif of the barcode suggests a critique of consumerism and commercial capitalism, which puts a price tag on everything including animal and human life. Animals are among his favourite symbols, often used in subversive artworks such as rats (Love Rat, Gangsta Rat) and monkeys (Laugh Now) also as a potential metaphor for people of the working class.
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