Let them eat crack

Banksy • Street art, 2008
About the artwork
This artwork has been added by an Arthive user, if it violates copyright please tell us.
Art form: Street art
Style of art: Graphics
Technique: Stencil
Date of creation: 2008
Location: New York
Artwork in selections: 1 selection

Description of the artwork «Let them eat crack»

The image of the rat is a very important symbol for street artists around the world. Many of them compare themselves with these animals, since they also have to hide, often work under cover of darkness and always be on the alert because their work is considered illegal. Banksy once said: “If you feel dirty, insignificant or unloved, rats are a good role model. They exist without permission, they have no respect for the hierarchy of society, and they have sex 50 times a day. ” In this regard, Banksy’s work “Let them eat crack " It is noteworthy for two reasons: firstly, it was created with the permission of the city authorities, and secondly, the image of the rat here has an absolutely opposite meaning.

This work appeared in 2008 in the New York district of Soho, in one of the most crowded places in the city. The rat here appears in the form of a businessman with an umbrella, a briefcase with money and a badge-ID on his chest. It seems that the screaming inscription “Let them eat crack” was left by the rat itself, since her paws are stained with red. The canonical image of a businessman, partially instilled in society by Hollywood films, is supported by the location of the picture: New York, and in particular its business district, Wall Street, is considered to be perhaps the most important financial center in the world.

Significant here is the written phrase “Let them eat crack”. This is a rephrased phrase “Let them eat cake” (in English - “Let them eat cake”), which is mistakenly attributed to Marie Antoinette. And although it has long been proven that she never said this, in the public mind this phrase symbolizes class inequality. Banksy, in this way, hints that Wall Street businessmen think about the well-being of the poor as much as the French aristocracy thought of their peasants.

But why crack? Using this word in his work, Banksy draws attention to another serious problem - drug use. In the United States, 80% of prisoners are in prison for drug or alcohol charges. And crack - the cheapest form of cocaine - is most often consumed by the unemployed and residents of poor areas. And the American poor have much more access to the drug than the French peasants have for bread.

This mural appeared on New York streets in the midst of the financial crisis of 2008, for which many blame those same businessmen. Although Banksy is British, he is a fierce opponent of the capitalist world. And hardly any other city will be able to argue with New York for the title of the capitalist center of the planet. Now, more than ten years after the appearance of this work by Banksy, it is difficult to understand and evaluate it fully without understanding the context. Nevertheless, in each new work, the artist still calls on his viewers to political and social activity.

Author: Evgenia Sidelnikova