Banksy feels his own pain at the horrors and stupidity of culture; he satirizes it very well. The elephant's however, it appears he doesn't feel so much. I would much sooner paint my self, humiliate my self, or subject myself to a disorienting, cruel, excessively hot car ride in an extremely cramped space the way he did that beautiful and highly sentient creature. Banksy is a genuine talent, but sadly he is also a cowardly, speciesist abuser. Banksy served himself with that prank, at the expense of a far more innocent one's pain. I could care less if Jude Law and Angelina Jolie saw this opening, or whatever else came of it. Animals have suffered enough for human conquest; this one suffered for Banksy's own conquest of the art world.
This is how Barnum & Bailey, with their bullhooks and brutal abuse of infant elephants, show their own unfeeling brutality in the name of profit and success. Don't kid yourself. This guy's stunt was much the same. Banksy doesn't seem to understand this animal is a feeling being not a prop: as much or more than himself. If the artist wanted to paint an elephant to make this rather banal and obvious metaphor, he should have done it in a much more ethical and considerate way, especially regarding the transport of that poor creature. In doing what he did, he betrayed his own purported principles and cheapened his own work.
Animal activist is a misnomer; sometimes I think there is no such thing. There are only those who recognize and feel the pain of other sentient creatures who's capacity for love, connection, fear, loneliness and pain is at least equal to our own, and those who don't. Those who get it can't help but speak out and take action. Any sane person would. Banksy and his associates appear ignorant not only of the love and emotion but the exquisite social structures, communication and self-expression demonstrated by elephants which, ironically, includes artwork and painting. Banksy served himself with that stunt, at the expense of a truly innocent being to who's suffering he seems quite indifferent. I hope he will have the courage one day to apologize and make amends.
I was amazed at the Bansky piece depicting the Vietnamese napalm victim: guided into this Orwellian hell by Ronald McDonald in one hand and Mickey Mouse in the other. I could not agree with Banksy more about the true story behind empire; the thin veil between industry, fast food, tobacco, corporate plundering and fascism, petrochemicals and full out war profiteering. I also loved his stunt with the Guantanamo victim at Disneyland. I think these are brave and highly resonant works of art. I will forever support an artist who can do work in which an image, without a single word or explanation, brings this point home so brilliantly. All I’m saying here is, those of us who understand these realities don’t have a blank check in our personal lives. I’m saying the things we do, count. My hope is that in the future, if they’re going to transport elephants for one of his stunts, Banksy and his crew will consider that creature’s feelings, too.