Keep Your Coins, I Want Change

1979 Words8 Pages
Over a century ago Antonio Gramsci extrapolated on the theory of hegemony derived from Marxist ideology. Gramsci sees hegemony, in the context of culture, as a dominant group who holds the most power and asserts it through controlling dominant messages. Alternatively, counter-hegemony is the oppositional voice to these messages. People who are part of the dominant group live with dominant messages may not be aware that they are hegemonic reinforcements. That is where counter-hegemony comes in to disrupt the dominant message and show its flaws or reminds us that they are just conditionings and that we actually have a choice of other alternatives (Edgar & Sedgwick). One artist who works with these messages is Banksy. He is a cultural jammer…show more content…
Counter- hegemony calls out the inconsistencies in accepted views. In the artwork Keep your Coins, I Want Change, this piece is considered counter-hegemony and part of a minority opinion, but if so, why is it that this artwork and others like it resonate with many people? If it does dissent from a cultural message why is there an appreciation. Many Banksy works sell for around £1 million pounds. Gramsci's theory gives us a loadstone for a way to look at changing our society. It identifies the unidentifiable because domination of the bourgeois in the way he saw it was never questioned. (cite) In the artwork a person from the proletariat is questioning and literally asking for change. From the way the figure presents himself it is hard to say if this image does in a way promote hegemony because the figure is clearly frowning, but appears to be passive. It appears that the figure is a beggar, and that this work may be interpreted as a person who is powerless and is asking for the dominant society to change instead of taking action for themselves. Some areas it seems where Gramsci's theory has trouble is in its simplicity. From the above interpretation we can see that the artwork could be interpreted as having hegemonic or counter-hegemonic elements. The artwork seems to show how this theory could be seen as part of a metanarrative that places bourgeois hegemony against proletariat…show more content…
Counter-hegemony could also help a society to function because it can bring in new and better ideas. Like with Banksy's artwork messages can be put into the public to inform them of different choices. I think Gramsci's theory is too linear in some aspects like when he mentions that we are all controlled by hegemonic messages, if this were so, then counter-hegemony would never be able to change anything. Feminisim is an example of a counter-hegemonic message that has changed peoples' perceptions. Another critique of this theory is that hegemony is apparently completely bad and desperately needs to change. If it were so bad, I believe people would have no problem dismantling it. If rebellion didn't exist, especially in art, what would happen? Would culture decay? Cultural jamming seems to take concepts from Gramsci's ideas because it uses counter-hegemony to fight against capitalist hegemony and disrupt "normal" values. Banksy again is a good example of this with his work because he chooses anonymity in a generation that seems to emphasize fame and popularity. Ironically his fame and the worth of his art seems to dominate the messages which are more important in front of it. Counter-hegemony art in a capitalist society? Without
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