A biting satire on the inability of modern man to provide for himself, Trolleys – or Trolley Hunters as it is also known – is a screenprint by celebrated street artist Banksy. It depicts three cavemen bearing primitive weapons and crouched in the act of hunting a herd of supermarket trolleys.
The artwork was first produced in 2006 by Modern Multiples of Los Angeles as an edition of 500 unsigned white prints (though only 100 went on sale) on the occasion of Banksy’s iconic ‘Barely Legal’ show which took place in a warehouse in LA. Trolleys was part of Banksy’s ‘Barely Legal Print Set’, a series of six prints which includes the works Applause, Festival, Grannies, Morons and Sale Ends, and which were sold at $500 apiece.
In 2007, Trolleys was re-released by Pictures on Walls of London in three different formats: 750 signed colour prints in a blue and yellow colourway, 500 unsigned white prints and 150 signed white prints . The UK release differs slightly to the LA edition; in the original Modern Multiples edition the caveman on the right holds a hammer made from wood with a pointed piece of stone while the later Pictures On Walls edition shows the man holding a spear instead.
The cavemen’s target is wittily transformed from the archetypal buffalo or wooly mammoth to the mundane shopping trolley. In this way Trolleys cleverly mocks contemporary society by suggesting that, isolated in cities with no way of growing or catching our own food, we depend on the products offered by giant supermarkets to survive. Banksy also seems to comment upon the hunters’ stupidity – instead of searching for edible goods they have targeted the empty symbol of consumerism. The men holding weapons also recall people competing violently for food in the archetypal scene at the supermarket in any Hollywood film about the apocalypse, itself a bleak evocation of what happens when the capitalist law of supply and demand goes too far.