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Led by Donkeys: Never forget. Vote them out

Devolved Parliament – Banksy’s Dystopian View of The House of Commons : Born in Bristol in 1973, Banksy has become an international phenomenon for his dissident style, dark humor, and political commentary on all aspects of contemporary life – from the European immigration crisis to climate change, the treatment of refugees and, most recently Brexit and the European Union.

His work fits firmly into the venerable history of political parody, from William Hogarth’s portrayal of the controversy, corruption, and chaos of 18th-century politics to George Orwell’s revolutionary Animal Farm and today’s political cartoonists. In the artist’s own words: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” (a play on American satirist Finley Peter Dunne’s declaration that the duty of a newspaper is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”)

Banksy first unveiled the work, then called Question Time, a decade ago as part of his ground-breaking Banksy vs. Bristol Museum exhibition, which famously drew over 300,000 visitors to become one of the world’s top ten most-visited shows of 2009. The painting has since been reworked by the artist and more recently retitled. Once glowing, the Commons’ lamps have been snuffed-out by Banksy, while the upturned banana of an ape in the foreground now faces downwards; atop these and other subtle adjustments, the painting also bears a new name: Devolved Parliament.

More recently, the painting returned to the spotlight once again for another showing in Bristol to mark the date originally intended for “Brexit Day,” 29 March 2019. The artist took to Instagram to explain: “I made this ten years ago. Bristol Museum has just put it back on display to mark Brexit Day. “Laugh now, but one day, no one will be in charge.”

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