Xmas 2019

If you’re in my address book you receive each year an ‘Xmas Image’, chosen to reflect some important aspect of the year just passed, and the year to come.

Last year, a photograph of 'earthrise' over the moon, taken on Christmas Eve 1968, reminded us of the dawn of awareness of the fragility of our planet home, and of how urgently, exactly 50 years on, it now needed our protection.

It's a theme I've returned to this year, with an image from Banksy that - as usual for him - seems to express exactly where we are now...

Banksy's art is inescapably political, but this is no simple polemic, or paeon to Extinction Rebellion, as a glance at the origin of the slogan - The Revolution Of Everyday Life by Belgian situationist Raoul Vaniegem - quickly confirms:

Let 10 men meet who are resolved on the lightning of violence rather than the long agony of survival; from this moment, despair ends and tactics begin.  Despair is the infantile disorder of the revolutionaries of every day life.

How nice it would be, especially at this time of year, to see the green shoot the girl seems to have nurtured as unsullied hope for the future - but the trowel associated with the planting is only a shadow, isn't it? - perhaps a shadow of the Extinction Rebellion symbol held by the girl more like a hammer than in hope.

The situationists were both artists and revolutionaries who saw the commodification and marketing of every aspect of life as now so deep and pervasive as to be almost inescapable - except, perhaps, through the propagation of extreme iconoclastic 'situations'.

So this work of Banksy speaks volumes - it supports but also warns the environmental movement about the protests past and what needs to be done in the year to come, about the profundity and difficulty of the changes needed to our lifestyles and economies... about the particular schizophrenic theatre of war between commercialism and our humanity - that we call Xmas.