Banksy Spray-Painted the London Tube With a Hopeful, Chumbawumba-Inspired Message About Lockdown
"I get lockdown, but I get up again," Banksy wrote on the subway car.
Banksy, the anonymous street artist, has taken on another job: London tube cleaner.
On Tuesday morning the artist posted a new video to Instagram accompanied by the short phrase “if you don’t mask—you don’t get,” that has already racked up more than one million views. In the video, a man covered head to toe in a Tyvek-style white suit, blue surgical gloves, and full gas-mask is seen walking onto the tube with a spray can strapped to his back and a canvas in tow. In the post, Banksy has simply written “if you don’t mask – you don’t get”
The man then unfurls his canvas and gets to work, spray painting stenciled rats onto the walls of the train car. The rodents are painted as if they’re dangling from the ceiling, hanging onto parachutes made from surgical masks and clutching hand sanitizer. As symbols of urban waste and carriers of disease, the humble rat (also an anagram of the word “art”) is a motif Banksy returns to often (most recently he painted them trashing a bathroom).
It’s unclear if the man in the video is Banksy himself. At one point, viewers can see another, similarly PPE-clad person monitoring the first man via laptop, which could also be the artist playing the role of puppet master.
The video continues until the train announcer calls out the next stop, and we see the painter-cleaner exiting the train car. As the shot fades out, a familiar beat kicks off: Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down), the dance-anthem released in 1997 by the band Chumbawumba. The song’s very catchy chorus, “I get knocked down, but I get up again/ you’re never gonna keep me down,” was emblematic of the band’s punk politics.
The final image of the Banksy video features the spray-painted phrase “I get lockdown, but I get up again,” ending the warning on a high note for residents.
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