Who is that masked man? Er…that man in a hoodie who’s defacing private property? Banksy is either a visionary street artist or a vandal armed with a spray-paint can, depending on who you ask. His politically charged pieces are easily recognizable on walls throughout London, Bristol, and other cities around the world. He’s debuted exhibitions in major cities like New York and London (if you can call smuggling work into major museums “exhibitions”); had a short film entitled Exit Through the Gift Shop made about him; and published a book complete with a quote from the London Metropolitan Police force— “There’s no way you’re going to get a quote from us to use on your book cover”—all while managing to remain completely anonymous.
Maybe it’s the air of anonymity and the vigilante-like quality of giving a voice to the voiceless. Maybe it’s the hoodie or bad-boy persona. Whatever it is, Banksy has the sort of je-ne-sais-quoi that has the world (this blogger included) falling head over heels, as clearly evidenced by the hundreds of Banksy-themed products for sale at tourist shops around London.
Of course, making profits from calendars and cheap t-shirts aren’t enough for Banksy. Now he’s taking Gaza.
Last week, Banksy posted a video on his website documenting his journey to the war-torn Palestine region. Between satirical
bits about Gaza being this season’s ideal travel destination and frames of children playing in rubble, we see the artist—from the back and hiding under his hoodie, of course—working on sections of the walls of bombed-out buildings. Several frames show locals looking on his finished “Bomb Damage,” which stands alone on a section of what used to be a wall. According to streetartnews.net, the figure is based on a classical sculpture of Niobe, a Greek mythological figure whose children were killed by the gods. Alone and distraught, Niobe wept so much she eventually turned into stone.
Another piece depicts a giant kitten playing with a ball of iron, rolled up from the rubble and placed under the painting. In the video, Banksy chose a shot with children playing among the rubble with the kitten in the background. Why a cat? According to Banksy, “on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.” Or videos of talking dogs. Or a dress so important that nobody can agree on what color it is (it’s blue and black, by the way).
The clip ends with a phrase spray-painted in English sandwiched between Arabic graffiti on yet another bombed-out wall. The crimson letters stand out against the cement, reading “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful—we don’t remain neutral.”
Definitely another gutsy move by the world’s most infamous, notorious, and wildly influential street artist. What do you think of his Banksy’s pieces? Have strong feelings about street art in general? Leave us a comment and don’t be afraid to share!
Have a massive crush on Banksy? Check out his website here: http://banksy.co.uk/index5.asp
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