by Phoebe Kamber
The week of Thanksgiving I visited my sister in Amsterdam, Netherlands where she attends college. The city itself is beautiful with a maze of canals making you second-guess your direction at every turn, and Christmas lights illuminating every alley. In its beauty, the city also demonstrates a cleanliness that, as a New York native, I was foreign to. Upon arrival at the Moco Museum of Amsterdam, I was expecting something similar to the fancy museums elsewhere in the world with the same clean, untouchable feeling I felt while walking through the streets. However, walking into the four-story museum, only slightly larger than a Brooklyn brownstone, I noticed that was not the aim of this museum at all. Instead, the art in every room was welcoming and open to interpretation; its purpose being to push the viewer to think about uncomfortable topics and the importance of going against the norm. It did not have the pretentious air that museums often have, scaring away those who do not identify as intellectuals. Banksy’s work displayed themes of capitalism and violence in works such as “Bar Code.”
Banksy also depicts a classic scene of Wall Street and the chaos behind capitalism in his drawing. In this scene, the umbrellas are weapons, the briefcases shields, and the faces
are angry, illustrating the hatred that exists within a capitalist system. Banksy also uses his art as a way of protesting war, specifically the one in Vietnam, and violence overall. He often uses irony, such as his many gorilla paintings with statements such as “Laugh now but one day we’ll be in charge.”
He also played with the violence in Pulp Fiction and turned an image of violence into a scene of comedy:
One of my favorite pieces was a drawing of an old, out of use military truck with a rainbow and children climbing all over it.
Many of his pieces evoked images of hope for the future in the face of the violence and war he describes. The messages Banksy conveys through his work continue further into the museum in the work of two Iranian brothers, Icy and Sot. They were driven out of Iran for their political work and many of their pieces focus on freedom and equality. The brothers were creative in their materials and they graffitied on dollar bills, blankets, books and more, giving something more to think about than just the drawings themselves.
Going to school at Beacon, and living in New York City, it is easy to take advantage of the diversity around me and the freedom I have without giving thought or appreciation for this. It is important to take advantage of the materials and creativity circling around within the walls of Beacon. Not only is there constantly new art on all the walls, but there are amazing plays, and music being created daily. Make use of the resources available and support those who are brave enough to put their art out for you to see.