They came to prominence on the streets of England, but some of anonymous street artist Banksy’s most potent work can be found amidst the rubble and anger that lines the Gaza strip.
“I don’t want to take sides. But when you see entire suburban neighbourhoods reduced to rubble with no hope of a future—what you’re really looking at is a vast outdoor recruitment centre for terrorists. And we should probably address this for all our sakes,” the artist’s publicist wrote in a statement to the New York Times in 2015.
Are we really to believe one of the most recognised cultural commentators in the world is hesitant to take sides?
They certainly shouldn’t be. For what lies at the root of such pieces as Bomb Damage, Gaza City, is not the question of whether Israel or Palestine have a right to the West Bank, but a glimpse into the struggle of the powerless when they find themselves under the foot of the powerful.
And in that struggle, there is only one side to take.
Banksy took the opportunity not only to comment on the Gaza situation in his work, but to criticise all who ignored it.
“A local man came up and said ‘Please – what does this (cat) 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.”
Rage, Flower Thrower was painted 12 years before the images above in Bethlehem. One of Banksy’s most iconic works, I feel it asks whether truth will ever be established in this hostile region, and if so, at what lengths?
Depth in simplicity. That is Banksy’s talent. Whether their identity will ever be revealed is entirely irrelevant; all that matters is that their message is received.