Banksy™ Rug Banksy
- Signed: Yes
Playing with the old colonial motif of the hunting trophy turned into cosy furnishings for your country pile, this Banksy™ Rug takes the well known character of Tony the Tiger – originally created to sell Frosties, a popular breakfast cereal – and reveals him as the puppet of capitalism that encourages children to consume high levels of sugar to the detriment of their dental health.
Here Tony has been skinned and splayed out across the floor, his orange and black fur rendered into a fluffy carpet while his head is cast in resin, his mouth opened wide to reveal not a fearsome set of gnashers but instead a paltry selection of teeth, seemingly rotted away by the sugar in his product. The original description to accompany the piece stated that this was ‘the diabetes riddled corpse’ of Tony, suggesting it would make ‘quite the conversation piece – especially if the conversation centres around the UK spending over £7.8million a year on tooth extractions for the under 5’s.’ Here Banksy’s message is explicit, though as usual it is cloaked in the dark humour we have come to associate with his artworks. While offering an entertaining distraction from daily life, at the same time he uses satire to shine a light on the darker aspects of capitalism, including the kind of advertising that preys on the suggestibility of young children to sell them things that they don’t need or that are bad for them.
This anti-capitalist message can be seen throughout Banksy’s oeuvre, in his earlier works of street art and in prints such as Festival (Destroy Capitalism), Sale Ends Today, and Christ with Shopping Bag. In fact the whole Gross Domestic Product venture, where this piece originally appeared, could be said to embody Banksy’s often confusing relationship with capitalism. On the one hand works such as these seem to represent his status as an outsider in the art world, fighting to keep his work on the streets in order for it to remain free and accessible to the general public, while at the same time he releases limited edition prints and artworks through an online shop immediately raising his profile and value on the market. GDP was not designed as a traditional shop however.