Banksy loves Christmas. For years before he became a household name the notorious artist would gather his friends together for annual “grotto” exhibitions and sales around London. His new online shop, Gross Domestic Product, comes just in time for the festive season.
The premise of the site is satirical, like Banksy’s work itself. As a “massive disclaimer” notes: “You are advised that GDP may prove to be a disappointing retail experience.” There are a limited number of products and interested buyers must register their request for a single item by October 28. As the info page proclaims: “The shop is not first come, first served.” Buyers will be selected at random and finally chosen by a “judge” on the basis of a tie-breaker question; they’ll then have seven days to make their purchase. The aim is to make the work available to “lower-income patrons”, with prices beneath market value. “Please refrain from registering at this time if you are a wealthy art collector,” the site urges.
Everything in the shop is made in Banksy’s studio, largely using recycled materials. Some of it is still being made, but all of it has the anonymous artist’s signature humour and political irony. A Banksy Clutch Bag is a brick with some handbag handles stuck on (£750). Other “homewares” include a clock with a painting of a rat (£500); a glitter ball fused with a policeman’s riot helmet, titled Banksy’s Met Ball (£500); and a pair of cushions (£150) emblazoned with the text “Life’s Too Short” and “To Take Advice From A Cushion”.
Nothing is straight here. A Banksy Baby Mobile (price to be set) is a group of surveillance cameras “to prepare your little one for the journey ahead – a lifetime of constant scrutiny both state-sanctioned and self-imposed”. Considering his Girl with Balloon sold for more than £1m at Sotheby’s this time last year (before famously self-shredding), every piece is a bargain. And even if you don’t buy anything, wandering through this website may be one of the most entertaining exhibitions you see this autumn.