Banksy's 2004 artwork Christ with Shopping Bags is a controversial and comparatively rare piece, with only 82 prints made. It shows a crucified Jesus holding shopping bags overflowing with presents and candy cane, likely as a criticism of modern consumerism and the commercialization of Christmas.
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Often referred to as Consumer Jesus, Christ with Shopping Bags is one of the most controversial Banksy prints - overt in its anti-religious sentiment. While Banksy never put the image on the street, its relatively low edition size places it in high demand.
The artwork shows the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, yet without the actual cross and, rather than nails piercing his hands, shopping bags hang from Christ's hands. Despite each bag also being festooned in fluorescent pink ribbon, closer inspection reveals them to be seeping black blood. Christmas presents seem to bulge from these macabre shopping bags, including commercially associated childhood icons: the candy cane and Mickey Mouse.
Undoubtedly meant as a satirical take on modern commercialism, this print points a finger at the hypocrisy of the modern Americanisation of Christmas. As is typical of Banksy’s style, he juxtaposes two disparate themes to shock and unnerve the viewer.
A deliberate perversion of Christian values and a communication of the bleakness it represents for the artist, this work makes us uneasy. Jesus himself appears in pain, weighed down by the shopping bags, symbolising the damage that consumerism has inflicted on the original values of Christianity – charity, compassion, forgiveness and gratitude.
To read more about Banksy's relationship with consumer capitalism, see our article here.