After a period of minor inactivity, the anonymous British street artist, Banksy posted a photo on his official website of a kneeling figure with its head resting melancholically in its hand. The photo had the caption, “Bomb damage, Gaza City.” The stenciled figure is surrounded by large chunks of debris while a battered building lay in the background.
Banksy is often known for tackling current controversial political or social affairs. In 2008, he placed a hooded life size replica of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner in the Disneyland Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride. He did so to expose the dreadful conditions of the terrorist’s subjects held in the controversial prison.
Banksy is now attempting to raise awareness about the Palestinian territory of Gaza. He posted a photo of a carnival swing ride attached to a surveillance tower, with the caption, “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.”
For the third piece, Banksy stenciled a kitten onto a large concrete wall. The caption for the photo said, “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.”
Banksy also posted a two-minute video titled, “Make this the year YOU discover a new destination,” which parodied the traditional travel advertisement. Shooting with what seems to be a handheld camera, Banksy tried to portray the life of average pedestrians. The video displayed captions stating that the video was taken far away from the tourist track and access was provided “via a network of illegal tunnels.”
The video depicts a group of children running around in the street with the caption, “the locals like it so much they never leave,” and then it cuts to a group of soldiers wielding high powered rifles with the caption, “because they’re not allowed to.”
Banksy’s art has always tread on a fine line of youthful acceptance and social criticism. His ability to stand on both sides and draw attention to social concerns is possibly his greatest gift as an artist.