Under the carpet
For those who missed the recently controversal Bristol stencil, here we have a large spray-painted image in north London's Camden Town (directly opposite the tube entrance to Chalk Farm Road station).
And, for the majority of us, a Banksy sighting affords an instant yet ephemeral ticket to join the conversation of the duly artistic and duly 'right-on' set of London's urban cultural life. And that is not meant as a put down, a show down or come down. Rather, a moment of collective appreciation.
Okay, with that over. Who would like to come out with their interpretation of Banksy's latest (a copy of which is also rumoured to be found on Hoxton Square). Not many takers, eh?
Well here goes an apprentice opinion. As much as I know of Banksy is limited to the knowledge that he oft deals in power relationships. As such, I feel compelled to give this maid the upper hand in the stencils's dynamic. And as this stencil is on the north side of the newly refurbished Roundhouse Theatre, I would suggest that Banksy was making a statement about the labour (under-valued, under-paid) that went into refurbishing the theatre for the enjoyment of the priveleged London chattering classes. The irony being that of power introverted, of the subjected class acting out its own retribution of sorts.
The maid, as object here of the working class (Marx, sorry didn't mean to stir you), is having her own back by sweeping the dirt of her presumed master under the carpet. And therein would lie a classic Banksy lesson, or sorry it was originally from a more divine (albeit less contemporary) source: 'Do unto others and you would have them do unto you'.
And this is why Banksy is genius. His art transmutes, reputes, and refutes convention. Quite fitting for the side of a theatre, really. Most especially one in Camden. Let's just hope the Council thinks as we do.
And whilst in Camden, if transmutation is your thing:
Check out Fuerzabruta (from the producers of De La Guarda) at the Roundhouse Theatre, Regents Park Road, NW1. A night of mad Argentian performance acrobatics. The 65-minute evening starts with a man running furiously on a speeding treadmill: as doors and walls come hurtling towards him, he bursts stoically through them. And this, with various mutations and sporadic entrances of scantily clad women, remains the consistent theme throughout.
There is a hidden subtext about the frailty of the human condition in the face of overwhelming odds. And although the show's title means Brute Force, I think it would be dangerous to invest it with too much metaphorical meaning. It is best enjoyed as an entertaining escape from the real world devoid of any deeper purpose.
Booking until 31st August, £25/ticket, 020 7424 9991, www.roundhouse.co.uk