A mural Banksy painted on the London Underground was removed by cleaning crews.
Part of an intervention on the London Tube by Banksy. Photo via Banksy.co.uk.
A new Banksy piece spray-painted on the inside of a London Underground train was removed by Transport for London (TfL) cleaning crews shortly after its creation. The piece, titled If You Don't Mask, You Don't Get (2020), featured a series of rats donning medical masks alongside a graffiti-style tag of the artist’s name seemingly rendered in disinfectant, as well as the phrases “I get lockdown” and “but I get up again”—a reference to British alternative rock band Chumbawamba’s 1997 smash hit “Tubthumping”—on the train door and an adjacent wall. A video posted to the artist’s Instagram shows him donning a cleaning crew disguise in order to paint the work in plain view of other passengers.
By the time the artist posted the video, however, the work had already been removed in accordance with the London Underground’s strict anti-graffiti policy. According to BBC News, the TfL treated the work “like any other graffiti on the network,” stating that "the job of the cleaners is to make sure the network is clean, especially given the current climate." A statement from the TfL went on to offer the artist the chance to recreate the mural “in a suitable location.”
The news of this artwork’s disappearance comes as another of the artist’s works, a mural painted on a fire exit door of Paris’s Bataclan concert hall, was returned to France yesterday after it was stolen in January 2019. The piece, painted in remembrance of the victims of a 2015 terrorist attack, was found by Italian authorities in a farmhouse in the countryside, and was returned to its original location on Bastille Day, France’s most important national holiday.
The French ambassador to Rome, Christian Masset, said during a ceremony:
It is a very moving moment to get back this door on our national holiday... it was witness to the massacre that claimed the lives of 90 people. Many people in the audience escaped through this emergency door. It has lived, heard, and seen the whole massacre.