Thursday, 5 March 2015

Hot Topic Wednesday - Bansky in Gaza

First thing's first I know it's not Wednesday I forgot to hit the publish button yesterday so apologies for this being late. Anyway onto the second of my 'Hot Topic Wednesday's' and Banksy's new documentary/art installations in Gaza.

I wanted to wait a week or so before I discussed this topic and give a bit of time for feedback from the art world and general public to come through. I personally have always been a fan of Banksy. His work caught my attention and got me interested in street art which I'm now slightly obsessed with.

Always politically charged and a mixture of anti-war, anti-establishment or anti-capitalism I find Banksy's pieces striking and fascinating. I know not everyone is a fan with his rapid ascent (or some would say descent) into the mainstream leading to a lot of people brandishing him a 'sell out'.

Popularity seems to have become a dirty word in our culture today and while I agree in some cases I think that Banksy has made managed to reach a wide audience because of his talent, subject matter and clever anonymity, and I applaud that!

From his early days as a freehand graffiti artist to the powerful stencil artist he has now become Banksy has always had something to say and does this constructively through his art. I have loved so many of his pieces from his distribution of doctored £10 'Banksy of England ' notes to his 2008 piece 'One Nation Under CCTV'.

And in the face of claims that he is a 'Sell out' concerned only with money Banksy opened up a pop-up boutique on Fifth Avenue, near Central Park in NYC in 2013 as part of his one month show in the cities streets. Manned by an unknown elderly man  the store allowed tourists and locals to buy one off Banksy pieces at the set price of $60. This is a perfect example of why I respect Bansky so much he never shy's away from his critics or confrontation.

In 2005 Banksy took to the Palestinian territories to create nine powerful political images on the Israeli West Bank wall and this year he has taken to the Gaza strip to create more artwork relating to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian authority.

His two minute Documentary, published on his personal website is a satirical take on a travel promo for the conflict devastated Gaza Strip and was released a day ahead of the unveiling of his art pieces.

First up a piece of the Greek Goddess Niobe weeping (which he published on his official instagram page as a teaser). Below it the caption "Bomb Damage, Gaza City."

Followed by a wall adorned with a Kitten. Banksy explained the reason behind this image :

"A local man came up and said 'Please - what does this mean?' I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website – but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens." 

A giant image of children swinging from a watchtower is also visible. Bansky commented:
"Gaza is often described as 'the world's largest open air prison' because no-one is allowed to enter or leave.
"But that seems a bit unfair to prisons - they don’t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost every day." 

Powerful imagery with a deep meaning I think and a perfect example of how street art can make an important social statement. I've been reading the comments on blogs and websites and the feedback is mixed: some love it and understand the reasoning behind it as Banksy intended while others question the artists understanding of the conflict on a deeper level.

What do you think: an important collection of political artwork that will be remembered in years to come or sheer vandalism and a lack of understanding of the regions complicated political issues?

I think you know my opinion.

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