The coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to stay home to limit the spread of the virus. The phrase “work from home” is inescapable as COVID-19 upends daily lives, even for the likes of Banksy.
On Instagram this week, the street artist posted photos of his bathroom overrun with rats — stenciled rats. And not one to leave humor behind, Banksy gave each rat their own destructive task, which could have many interpretations. “My wife hates it when I work from home,” Banksy wrote in the caption.
A few of the rats, seen in Banksy’s trademark graphic style, are seen adjusting a mirror to their liking, maybe to represent the boredom of looking at the same walls while in isolation during the pandemic. The image of the rat counting the days on the wall could be any one of us counting the days at home during this pandemic. As a sign of the times, the most notable rat in the image could be the one using toilet paper as a plaything, perhaps a metaphor on how the household product has become a precious resource due to extended stays at home.
Whatever the meaning may be, we may never know because Banksy is notorious for keeping his identity unknown, and surrounding his artwork with spectacle. His most notable and recent one came in 2018 when he shredded one of his most famous works just after it was sold at auction for 1.04 million pounds, or $1.4 million. Despite being a high-profile prankster, that has not stopped art collectors from trying to obtain his art. “Devolved Parliament” — his 2009 take of Britain’s governing body, illustrated with a room full of chimpanzees — was sold for 9.9 million pounds, or $12.1 million, at a Sotheby’s auction this past October.
Banksy may not be able to as easily display his artwork in the public as before, but that doesn’t mean he can’t pull some pranks or be creative while at home. The artist still updates his Instagram page from time to time — it says “not on facebook, not on twitter” on his official Instagram bio.