Banksy’s Festival, also known as Destroy Capitalism, is a three-colour screenprint from 2006 printed by Modern Multiples of Los Angeles. It depicts a queue of people at a music festival, in the line to buy t-shirts. The artwork was made for Banksy’s iconic American exhibition, Barely Legal which took place in a warehouse in LA in 2006. Festival screenprints were part of Banksy’s Barely Legal Print Set, a set of six prints which includes the works Applause, Grannies, Morons, Trolleys and Sale Ends.
It was intended that there be a seventh print produced, a portrait of an aristocrat being hit in the face with a pie, but the piece was dropped. There were only 100 Festival unsigned prints ever sold although they are numbered out of 500 and Festival was only sold at Banksy’s LA show.
There are also a few signed prints and artist proofs in circulation, but these never went on general sale. The Barely Legal Print Set, with its limited edition of prints, is among the most rare and valuable prints in urban art. To possess a matched set is a very precious acquisition.
Festival is printed on a grey background, showing black and white stencilled figures queuing at a merchandise booth at a music festival, the individuals in the queue are presented as punks, goths and hippies with their clothes, haircuts and attitudes representative of such cult fashions. The assumption is that they are attending an alternative music festival. They represent what society might consider ‘misfits’ or anti-capitalists. In Banksy’s artwork they are ironically queuing in a long line to buy $30 red t-shirts that read ‘Destroy Capitalism’, the only coloured element of the artwork.
The work is a sarcastic comment on how independent and alter-globalisation events, like alternative music festivals for example, have now become hypocritical versions of themselves, contradicting the usual motto of this audience.
Subversive as ever, Banksy has mastered the irony: friendly-looking elderly people happen to be punks, wars and bloodshed are meant to achieve peace, or the artist continues to wish you ‘a nice day’ while at war. The irony reached its climax in 2013 when Walmart, the American multinational retail corporation which operates in 27 countries and thus embodies capitalism, sold a series of Banksy's Festival posters at a markup through their online marketplace. In retaliation, American artist Eddie Colla released a new print he entitled It's Only Stealing If You Get Caught directly accusing Walmart of selling ‘glorified vandalism’.