Rats are to Banksy like Campbell’s soup cans are to Andy Warhol. It is evident that rats assume for Banksy a metaphorical dimension: “They exisy without permission”, he said. “They are hated, hunted and persecuted. They live in quiet desperation amongst the filth. And yet they are capable of bringing entire civilizations to their knees”. They would the ones surviving the nuclear holocaust, not us. We act driven by mere individualist fury, they are always moved by a collective logic.
As rats live in the sewer, tunnels, degraded and abandoned areas of the modern metropolis, so graffiti writers move at nighttime through similar locations – tunnels, canals, train depots, dismissed architectural skeletons – to mark walls, train coaches, gates and shutters with their spray cans, always fully aware of the danger of ending up in the claws of the lurking guards. In Banksy‘s works, rats become vandals armed with paint and brushes, middle-class figures with a pressed suit and an umbrella, burglers, rappers, workers, saboteurs, skilled climbers, even terrorists scattering barrels of poisonous substances among the streets and the walls of the city.