The Art of Political Representation
On Banksy, Hogarth and Democracy
Keywords:Banksy, Question Time, Devolved Parliament, Hogarth, The Humours of an Election, political representation, anarchism
Rarely in the postwar period has the western system of representative democracy seemed more criticised and less respected. From historically low turnouts to the disparagement of the motives of politicians as individuals and as a class, voters seem increasingly disillusioned and disengaged. Questions of representation are centrally at stake in both art and politics and the premise of this essay is that recent art can help us understand the current democratic predicament. The particular work which provokes my reflections is Devolved Parliament, Banksy’s thirteen foot long oil painting of the House of Commons, which recently sold for a record breaking sum. Its sale price no doubt says much about the state of the art market in the UK and elsewhere, but what, if anything, does the painting have to say about contemporary politics?
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