Christ with Shopping Bags Banksy
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Banksy’s controversial screenprint Christ With Shopping Bags, sometimes known as Consumer Jesus or CWSB, was created in 2004 as a limited edition of 82 signed prints, and released in 2005. Unusually for Banksy, he never put the image on the street, and its relatively low edition size places it in high demand.
The artwork shows the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, yet Banksy has removed the structure of the cross from the iconic scene. Instead of nails through his hands, shopping bags have been drawn in, each festooned in fluorescent pink ribbon, but appearing to be seeping with black blood. Christmas presents seem to bulge from the shopping bags, including commercially associated childhood icons: the candy cane and Mickey Mouse.
The image is undoubtedly meant as a satire on modern commercialism, pointing a finger at the hypocrisy of modern celebration, most especially the Americanisation of the Christmas festival. As is typical of Banksy’s style, he juxtaposes two disparate themes to shock and unnerve the viewer.
The intrusion of consumerism and modern commercialism in the hands of Jesus Christ evokes a sense of unease. Banksy has presented a perversion of Christian values and intentionally designed the image to communicate the bleakness it represents for him, leaving the viewer with a sense of unease. Furthermore, Jesus appears in pain, weighed down by the shopping bags, symbolising the damage consumerism has on the original values of Christianity – charity, compassion, forgiveness and gratitude.
Why is Christ With Shopping Bags important?
The grey background and muted colours evoke a sense of foreboding and gloom at the same time reinforcing Banksy’s comment on the superficiality of modern Christmas in this clever composition. The artist also uses effective motifs such as the melting gifts to suggest the ephemerality of modern Christmas, whilst the crucifixion represents how society has sacrificed their happiness for material things, which offer only transitory joy.
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