Banksy, perhaps the world’s most famous street artist, is back. His infamous rat now adorns the clock of a former bank building on 14th Street in New York City, with the stenciled rodent running as if on a hamster wheel. Banksy has been known to sneak messages into his work, whether subliminal or crushingly direct. This particular piece could be read as a race against time, or an endless rat-race—which every New Yorker can certainly relate to.
According to Curbed, this is Banksy’s first New York piece in five years. Unfortunately, he may have picked the wrong building, as it’s been headed for demolition since a developer filed for its removal last December. Since nobody really knows much about the anonymous artist, it’s unclear whether Banksy was aware of the location’s precarious state or not. What is clear, however, is that he proudly posted a couple photos of the building on his Instagram.
The building will reportedly be turned into a 13-story condo that will house 45 apartments as well as ground floor retail stores. Those of us fortunate enough to live in NYC can catch a glimpse of the rat spinning its wheel by taking a quick subway trip to the corner of 14th Street and 6th Ave.
This particular work from Banksy comes at an interesting time, when street art and commercialism collide. Artists and supporters of the arts are currently boycotting Swedish clothing brand H&M for their unauthorized use of artist Jason "Revok" Williams' work in one of their ad campaigns. The boycott has raised the question of whether or not graffiti is protected under copyright, with some referencing Banksy's work as an example of this continually pressing issue.