Choose Your Weapon Banksy
Banksy’s Choose Your Weapon (also known as CYW) first appeared on a wall in The Grange, in South East London’s Camberwell in 2010. Shortly after the stencil appeared on the street, it was boarded over. It then reappeared, framed and covered in Perspex. In August 2016, it was reported that the Perspex itself had been covered in posters and flyers obscuring it from view entirely. It is unknown if the work still exists in the same location, or if it is just obscured from view.
Pictures On Walls released the prints in December 2010, to hordes of fans queuing in the cold to get their hands on the coveted limited editions. The queue notoriously got out of control, with pushing and shoving by desperate fans hoping not to lose out on the exclusive editions. Banksy’s response to the event was, along with Pictures On Walls, to produce a special queue jumping edition in grey for those who missed their chance.
The work depicts a hooded man with dark clothing and a bandanna hiding his face, a visual motif recurrent in Banksy’s stencil work and meant to signify a British disaffected youth. The man’s menacing appearance is contrasted by his casual hand-in-the-pocket posture and his big barking cartoon dog, who is chained and barking. The connotation in much of the media at the time, and in Banksy’s own interpretation is that the dog has become an alternative weapon on the streets of the UK. The minimalist animal, painted in a hieroglyphic all-white silhouette, is in contrast to the hyper-realistic representation of his master. The style of Banksy’s dog pays tribute to the famous Barking Dog by American pop artist Keith Haring who is one of Haring’s most important characters. Haring rose to prominence in the early 1980s with his graffiti drawings made in the subways and on the sidewalks of New York City.
Choose Your Weapon is a portrayal of British disaffected youth and gang culture whose aggressive dogs have become weaponry in their quest for power. The naive style of the dog further evokes the detachment to the reality of a weapons ability. But in a world Banksy believes to be abusive and to some extent back ward, he invites us to 'choose our weapon' - for peace and freedom.
The collection of prints is available in different colours: Bright Pink, Dark Blue, Dark Orange, Gold, Green, Khaki, Lemon, Light Orange, Magenta, Olive, Grey (Queue Jump), Red, Silver, Sky Blue, Slate, Soft Yellow, Turquoise, White.