"Rage, Flower Thrower"

Banksy illustration showing a masked dissident in an aggressive stance about to throw a bouquet of flowers
July 31, 2019
Sofia Petrulla

This piece was created by famous street artist Banksy in 2005 in Jerusalem. Banksy’s work usually has some political or social message attached - this one being peace over war. It is said that Banksy was inspired by Judyth Hill’s poem, “Wage Peace”: “Wage peace with your breath...Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.” This piece was speculated to be in response to violence in the Middle East or three people being stabbed during a parade.

I feel like this piece forces us to consider why we would potentially want to throw something harmful towards a group of people if we could, instead, throw something beneficial their way. This work makes the viewer consider the consequences of negative action by replacing this thought with what could happen if positive action was taken. This work re-frames the approach to dealing with “bad”, positing that solutions can come from “good.” I feel as if this idea can be applied to the way we approach social equity. 

Putting this into context - the norm has been to disinvest in communities that are low-income, perceived to lack contributions and therefore believed to be unworthy of resources. If these communities were to be thrown money and effectively reinvested in, then the outcome would be significantly more positive and beneficial. We have continually impacted certain communities by throwing bombs their way, for example, in the form of inequitably developing and taking advantage of their neighborhood, raising the cost of living tremendously, etc. In order to reduce the normality of this practice we must continually ask ourselves before taking drastic measures that impact so many people - why should we throw the bomb when we can throw the flowers and help people instead?