The Banality of the Banality of Evil

The Banality of the Banality of Evil, part of Banksy’s “Better Out than In” series. New York, 2013

Graffiti artist Banksy’s self proclaimed “Artist in Residence” stay in New York City in October 2013 resulted in some pretty epic pieces of graffiti being plastered all over the city. Die hard fans of the artist know that he does not shy away from making controversial political statements and defying authority, and they were suitably entertained by the antics of the world’s most famous miscreant.

“You ruining up someone’s property, or public property, or defacing it, is not my definition of art,” said Michael Bloomberg, NYC’s then mayor. And deface New York, Banksy did. From squeaking stuffed pigs in the Meatpacking district in a van, to selling original paintings worth half a million dollars for a meager $420 without the regular hype of the art world’s backing, Banksy created a ruckus in the 30 days he spent promoting his “Better Out than In” production of daily art work.

Yet, amongst all the pieces that were transient in the landscape, one piece of artwork stands out. It depicts a young soldier in Nazi garments, staring out into a serene lake.

Titled “The Banality of the Banality of Evil,” the painting was auctioned off for a hefty 615,000 USD.

I was brought to mind this beautiful quote by Alan Moore, which suggests,: “It is the oldest ironies that are still the most satisfying: man, when preparing for bloody war, will orate loudly and most eloquently in the name of peace.”

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