Christ with Shopping Bags Banksy
Banksy’s controversial screenprint Christ with Shopping Bags, sometimes known as Consumer Jesus or CWSB, was released in 2004 as a limited edition of 82 prints signed by the artist. 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 as if hanging from the cross, 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 undoubtably meant as a satire on modern commercialism, pointing a finger at the hypocrisy of modern celebration, seemingly 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, the viewer is left with a sense of unease. Furthermore, Jesus appears in pain, weighed down by the shopping bags, symbolising the weight consumerism has on the values of the original values, those taught through Christianity – charity, compassion, forgiveness and thanks.
The grey background evokes a sense of foreboding and gloom. The muted colours reinforce Banksy’s comment on the superficiality of modern Christmas. The melting gifts going further to suggest the ephemerality of modern Christmas, whilst the crucifixion represents how society has sacrificed themselves for material things, offering only transitory joy.