Applause is a signed screen print in colours released in an edition of 650 prints with 150 signed and 500 unsigned works in 2006. It first appeared on canvas as a part of Banksy’s Barely Legal exhibition in a warehouse in Los Angeles, along with the release of 100 unsigned prints. Along with the screen prints Grannies, Morons, Trolley’s, Festival and Sale Ends, this edition is a part of the much sought-after Barely Legal Box Set.
Applause is one of Banksy’s most unique stencil works with regards to a more detailed, sketch-like execution, which diverges from the artist’s usual punchy graffiti style. It depicts two air traffic controllers in bright yellow jackets with one of them holding up a sign with the words ‘Applause’ written across it in red. The background features a black and white photograph of a military ship and its runway, where a large-scale airplane is about to take off.
Applause reflects Banksy’s recurring critique of the military establishment and its connection to consumer culture. The sign reading ‘Applause,’ refers to placards at game shows or sit-coms dictating the audience’s artificial reactions to a given scene. Through this potent and sardonic image, Banksy critiques the way mainstream media makes a spectacle of modern warfare, showing war as entertainment.