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Over the weekend, onlookers at a Sotheby’s art auction were left stunned when a Banksy “Girl with Balloon” painting sold for $1.4 million, and then promptly self destructed thanks to a shredding device hidden within the frame. The art world was in shock at the never-before-seen stunt, and experts soon began speculating that the piece was perhaps worth even more in its destroyed state.
“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge,” Banksy quoted Picasso in the caption to an Instagram video, detailing how he planted the device in the frame, in case the painting should ever be put up for auction.
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“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” quipped Alex Branczik, the senior director and head of Contemporary Art in London.
One way or another, Banksy sure got people talking, as the stunt quickly went viral. Now, not at all surprisingly, the shredded “Girl with Balloon” has evolved into a meme, as the internet imagines what else would be worthy of a shredding—from Belgian frites to the famous Kramer from Seinfeld poster.
Banksy is Belgian pic.twitter.com/1Fy3SrnJbP— Joop Hazenberg (@joophazenberg) October 9, 2018
Banksy is killing it ✂️ pic.twitter.com/dDtGHdVIMm— Seinpop (@seinpop) October 8, 2018
Even the Mona Lisa was not safe from being shredded.
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What if other paintings had doomsday devices in them? . . . #modernnotoriety #hypebeast #highsnobiety #art #banksy #shred #frame #modernart #painting #destroy #doomsday #beauty #painting #davincj #banksyart #concept #picture #love #smile #eyes #woman #artwork #louvre #museum #simple #what #design #money #style
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The New South Wales police Twitter in Sydney used the meme as a reminder for citizens against speeding or using a cell phone while driving:
A few people even went so far as to create adorable miniature versions of “Girl With Balloon” getting the shredder treatment.
“Banksy challenge desbloqueado” pic.twitter.com/eCfd1OzwFO— Maureen Boys (@MollyBoys) October 11, 2018
And someone else imagined it going through a pasta roller:
Being that the timing of the incident coincided with the highly contentious and borderline unconstitutional confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, others used the meme to make the same observation.
So I heard this happened today, right in front of a shocked audience. (Artist unknown) pic.twitter.com/YnfpplY8cq— Jay Kuo (@nycjayjay) October 6, 2018
As the gavel went down on the Senate confirmation vote, an alarm started going off, and the Constitution began to shred itself. pic.twitter.com/O2YtA2rMZ4— exador23 (@exador23) October 6, 2018
Even more depressingly, someone else used the meme to make a statement about climate change:
One way or another, it goes without saying that Banksy is probably loving all this attention.
Stacey Ritzen is a reporter and editor based in West Philadelphia with over 10 years' experience covering pop culture, web culture, entertainment, and news. You can follow her on Twitter @staceyritzen.