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Banksys If Graffiti Changed Anything first appeared in Fitzrovia, central London, in April, 2011. The quote ends with “it would be illegal”. The graffiti art is painted in bright red, the letters dripping paint. Banksy’s signature rat is stenciled in black and white at the bottom of the piece, appearing to stand on a ledge. His left paw is covered with the same bright red paint, and he has left a paw print on the wall where he stands, looking over his shoulder at his words of wisdom.
Ever-conscious of the political environment, this Banksy piece pays homage to anarchist Emma Goldman. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Ms. Goldman founded Mother Earth”, an anarchist magazine. She was a strong advocate of womens rights and social issues. Expressing her frustration with the political system, she famously said, If voting changed anything, “it would be illegal.”
Is Banksy expressing his own frustration with a political system that seems to ignore the voice of the individual vote? Is he lashing out at the politicians who pass the laws requiring the removal of his works of art? Or is he hopeful that one voice, one piece of graffiti art may light a spark in the hearts of many, and that spark may change the system? Perhaps he is acknowledging that, due to the very fact that it is illegal, graffiti art changes everything. It plants the seed of thought in each person who sees the art.