In 2007, Banksy released a limited edition of 500 signed prints of “Stop and Search,” a striking screenprint depicting Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” being subjected to a police search by a modern-day officer. The image is thought-provoking, with Dorothy looking apprehensive as the officer, donning blue latex forensic gloves matching her iconic checkered dress in the film, searches her basket while Toto patiently waits.
Banksy’s artwork is a social commentary on the controversial stop-and-search policies used by law enforcement, sparking conversations about police brutality and racial profiling and igniting a call for change in how law enforcement operates in modern society. The artwork is emotionally charged and powerful, using Dorothy and Toto to accentuate the absurdity of police stop-and-search practices.
Banksy – Stop & Search Signed Print Edition 2007
In 2007, a thought-provoking mural titled “Stop and Search” was unveiled in Glastonbury as a public art piece. The artwork aimed to shine a light on controversial police stop and search practices that were prevalent at the time. The mural depicted a police officer frisking a young girl, ostensibly in search of drugs or weapons. The girl appeared to be intimidated and powerless in the face of police authority, highlighting the power dynamics involved in such practices.
Banksy also incorporated the same theme in his work during his visit to Palestine in 2013. His artwork depicted a young girl dressed in pink conducting a search on a heavily armed soldier, which reversed the roles. The Israeli soldier needed to be frisked as he was the one with guns on his person, highlighting power dynamics and intimidation for the Palestinian children.
Stop & Search, Street Art, Saving Banksy Documentary 2017
In 2017, Banksy also painted Banksquiat. Boy and Dog in Stop and Search, executed for the opening of Basquiat: Boom for Real at the Barbican. The mural featured two figures from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 painting, Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump, being frisked by members of London’s Metropolitan Police.
Banksy Basquiat Tribute, Barbican centre, london. Photo credit Banksy 2017
Through his “Stop and Search” art, Banksy sought to raise awareness about police brutality, racial profiling, and civil liberties. He used his platform to call for greater scrutiny of law enforcement agencies and urged viewers to question how power is exercised in society.
Banksy’s “Stop and Search” is a powerful commentary on the misuse of power by those in authority and is part of his larger body of work that critiques societal norms and challenges us to think more deeply about the world.