The unidentified street artist Banksy has re-emerged in Gaza to create a political mini-documentary about life inside the war-torn region.
In the short film, posted to his official website on Wednesday, the artist appears to enter Gaza via underground tunnels before emerging through a metal door and into the rubble.
Typical of Banksy’s work, the video is a pointed political statement about the dire situation for residents of Gaza. At least 2,200 Palestinians were killed in last summer’s war with Israel, according to the United Nations. (Israel argues that the militant group Hamas fires rockets out of civilian areas. At least five Israeli civilians and 67 soldiers were killed in the conflict.)
The video is also sharply satirical, framed as a travel ad that begins by saying, “Make this the year you discover a new destination.” Glowing descriptions flash by such as “nestled in an exclusive setting,” as the cameraman pans to show areas of total destruction, and “watched over by friendly neighbours,” before listing the number of homes blown up by missile fire.
Among the destroyed buildings and bleak reality, Banksy is shown painting a piece titled “Bomb Damage” that depicts the Greek goddess Niobe cowering and weeping in the only part that remains of a building. The goddess, a bereaved mother who lost her children due to pride, illustrates in Greek mythology how the gods will not hesitate to take vengeance on human arrogance.
The documentary also features new work showing a cat playing with a ball of metal, in a shot where children play in the foreground. On his website, Banksy writes: “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.”
The final piece released is of a watchtower merry-go-round, painted in black on the side of a building. Banksy wrote: “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 everyday.”
The video ends with a statement: “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful — we don’t remain neutral.”
The Palestinian territory is not a new base for the British graffiti artist; in 2005 he made headlines for his art on Israel’s West Bank barrier. There were nine images in total, including one work with a girl attempting to float over the wall holding balloons, one of children playing on the sand with a hole above them showing a beach in the wall, and another of a dove with an olive branch and a bullseye on its chest.
Once again, Banksy has lent his public profile to a highly political situation.
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