The modern world can be a very confusing and scary place. Often there is so much going on and so much being reported in the 24-hour news cycle that it’s hard to keep up. People have pacified themselves with social media and other distractions, but unfortunately, it has become harder to get away from all the societal ills we experience every day.
Dran, an artist who is also known as the French Banksy, illustrates these problems in his artwork. His cartoons criticize society and what he feels are the things that are holding all of us back. One of the main thesis statements in his work is that art is still meaningful and should have a place in our lives.
These 24 works by Dran illustrate how we see the world, and what we may be missing when we are not looking close enough. Society can’t change unless we are willing to change it.
1) TV becomes our window to the world: It’s easy to get lost in the things that entertain us. Whether that’s a TV show or a sporting event, we can get sucked in so easily that we don’t pay attention to what is going on in the rest of the world.
2) Staying in touch but never touching: Technology has brought us closer together in some ways, but it has also been pushing us apart in others. Sure, we can transmit our thoughts and communicate instantly, but what if our communication is suffering because of that? What are we really saying to each other?
3) Kids with the weight of the world on their shoulders: There’s more pressure than ever on kids to succeed, and the world is not making it easy for them. They are so aware of everything that is going on around them and it sometimes seems that they have no way to escape from it.
4) Telling the truth can be hazardous to your health: In an age where people are becoming more aware of the problems in society, it seems harder to talk about those issues in the art without being criticized or silenced. The worst part is not the authoritarianism of governments, but the complacency of audiences.
5) Helping others or helping themselves?: It’s too easy to believe the images we see of politicians are completely genuine. Are they actually helping people who need their help, or is it all just a publicity stunt? Who’s really benefiting from a politician’s public image? What is it that we’re not seeing?
6) Art vs Commerce: What is art worth to us? In this day and age, making money from being creative is becoming more difficult than ever. The world is so saturated with content that people are creating, that it’s easy to miss the true visionaries who are just trying to get by.
7) Is it too late for us to start over?: As the environment continues to decline and humans keep creating waste, it seems almost impossible that there could be a way for us to reverse everything. What if everything has become so bad that even in the far future it would be impossible for us to get a clean start?
8) Everyone is getting backstabbed: Business has become more cutthroat in the past few years. With profits being channelled further up the ladder and forward mobility becoming increasingly difficult, it only seems natural that people will begin to turn against each other. There has to be a better way for all of us to get ahead.
9) Hooked on our smartphones: Is it convenient to have all of the information in the world at our fingertips? Of course, it is. However, we shouldn’t be letting it control us. Sometimes it’s better to just wander or not know, rather than having to look everything up at the moment.
10) Hypocrisy is hiding everywhere: Even if someone has a positive message, they may not be delivering it in the best way possible. They might not even be aware of the problems they are creating. It’s important to be vigilant and stay aware of the hypocrisy in all forms. Otherwise, you’re just buying into another lie.
11) Painting over our problems: Some people think that we just need to cover up all of our problems. They believe in the philosophy of “out of sight, out of mind.” However, just because you can’t see a problem right in front of you, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist anymore.
12) What women go through every day: It might be hard for men to understand what women go through on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean that they should keep feeding into it. Being just a little bit more considerate and aware of your behaviour goes a long way.
13) How we see ourselves sometimes: When you have access to everyone else’s social media and you can see how great things are going for them, it’s hard not to feel like a loser. You can be a great person, but when you compare yourself to others, all you see in the mirror is a sad clown.
14) The things you don’t see on the tour: When you visit a beautiful city, you may see all of the tourist attractions and the best sights it has to offer. What you won’t see are all the problems that are being swept under the rug, such as crime and poverty.
15) A matter of perspective: It’s easy to think that we have complete freedom, but how much do we actually have? To someone looking at us from the other side, it may seem like we are trapped in one place: emotionally, socially, or in any other way. Sometimes we have to step outside ourselves and see where we are.
16) One little pill can solve all your problems: As a society, we have become over-medicated. It seems that for every problem you may have there’s a prescription drug that can help you. However, dependency and addiction are not just limited to the drugs you can find on the street.
17) We can still imagine a better world: The power of imagination can be a weapon against the depressing state of the world. Kids know how to look beyond what is in front of them and see something entirely different. Maybe we can all take a lesson from them and try to see how the world can be made better.
18) They’re just doing their job: Racial discrimination is still prevalent and problematic in our society. A person of colour can be assumed to be doing something wrong even if they’re just doing their job or trying to go home. The police say they are just doing what they’ve been trained to do, but isn’t that the problem?
19) How dare you think differently: Creative people don’t always have jobs where they can flex their artistic muscles. It’s the reality of the world that most people will just end up doing what someone else wants them to do. Thinking for yourself and doing things differently have become punishable offences.
20) All of our questions are swept away: As a society, we want answers. We want to know why things have to be the way they are and what we can do to be better. However, the people with the power to answer those questions would prefer to just hide them all away, lest we know too much.
21) They want you to feel small: We can get so caught up in our own lives and the lives of others on social media that we don’t see the bigger picture. When we’re isolated and lonely, accomplishing any real change in the world feels impossible, but working together makes us all stronger.
22) Waking up before the sun: The reality of working is that you spend most of your day doing it. If you’re commuting that’s sometimes an extra 2 hours away from your home. What does it say about our society that we expect people to push themselves so hard and sacrifice so much of their time just for a job?
23) Keep your head up: Advertising is everywhere. It’s almost entirely impossible to not be exposed to an advertisement at any time during the day. However, you can’t let the advertising distract you from reality, no matter how enticing the images may be. It’s more important to be aware of what is going on right in front of you.
24) Using art to escape: The value of what art can do for people is endless. It can inspire them, make them laugh, cry, or push them to be better people. Most of all, it can be a way to feel free from your circumstances. If you can create something beautiful, then there must still be some beauty in your life.