Move over, Cool Britannia, the Olympics have taken London by storm. And when something this crazy happens, everybody's got some thoughts. Including Banksy. Especially Banksy, the world's most famous graffiti artist. Here's the latest swiped from his site (just in case the IOC scrubs away his graffiti), and annotated by the Black Balloon commentariat:
1. [Javelin Thrower with Fully Functional Rocket]
Note the poor form, likely inspired by Hellenistic Greek sculptures rather than contemporary photography of javelin throwers, which wouldn't get the rocket (or javelin) very far. Consider the jersey number, which likely may refer to the gold medalist for the 2004 Olympics women's javelin competition, Osleidys Menendez from Cuba. What can we make of the fact that this winner has been depicted as a white male? Is this an incitement to the athletes to make war, not peace? Or is this a reference to the militarization of Britain, and the sudden arrival of military troops to provide overly thorough security for this event?
2. [Pole Vaulter Over Barbed-Wire fence, with Old Mattress]
Again, the form is terrible: the body should go straight as it lets go of the pole, as this video shows. Even more unnervingly, the vaulter seems to have dramatically overshot the height of the barbed-wire fence, instead of barely surpassing it. Is this England trying too hard to make a spectacle of itself? Is this the organizers grossly overstepping their bounds? The mattress, at least, makes sense: once the Olympics are over, what will remain? Plenty of trash, that's for sure. But hey, I like the creative use of found materials. Nothing says austerity measures like using a dirty mattress.
3. [Sweatshop Worker Making British Flags]
If this is an allegory, we had better pay close attention: who are the sweatshop workers here? Are they as young, and as naive, as the child here? One of my friends sent me this video of Olympic diver Tom Daleybeing doused in glycerin for a photo shoot—and he's barely eighteen. Does the United Kingdom depend entirely on the young, the fresh, and the novel to establish itself? What's happened to history, to everything that makes London different from any other city that has hosted the Olympics?
I'm sure this isn't the last of it. I'll be watching the Olympic competitions all this week, and I'll keep my eyes peeled for more of Banksy's biting commentary. May the best man win.