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What you need to know about Banksy’s trip to Gaza

Photo: Israeli barrier near the Kalandia checkpoint

Away from the tourist track, taking advantage of the secret tunnels that run throughout the war-torn area of the Gaza strip, Banksy has unveiled his latest political artworks on a tour. These artworks were created after Operation Protective Edge by the Israeli Army that destroyed 18,000 Palestinian homes. Using the documentary format in a video, Banksy and his team filmed their journey through the devastated area. It appears that they managed to sneak into the area from Egypt through an underground tunnel in order to avoid military personnel. The video takes film from the Israeli-Hamas war from last summer with commentary over the top with facts about the struggle of life in the Gaza strip.

The video…

In the video, the documenters show some of his work, which include children playing around a black watchtower, a Greek Goddess hiding and a cute, pink kitten. Banksy’s publicist, Job Brooks, confirmed the famous artist’s presence in Gaza, and stated that they got there through a tunnel. However, there is some debate as to whether Banksy could have actually reached the area without guards knowing. Whilst he has conducted art in the middle-east before, where he drew the famous painting of the girl being pulled towards the sky on Israel’s West Bank separation barrier, the difference this time is that Egypt has increased its military personnel, and most of the tunnels into the area were destroyed after the war last year.

Banksy’s main aim was to show the destruction in Gaza via the internet, the western world’s strongest weapon. The kitten represents the banality of the internet, with people looking at YouTube videos of cats and ignoring the distressing events of war, when it could be used for something so much stronger and revolutionary. The video ends with this message:

“If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful—we don’t remain neutral.”

Photo: Banksy’s Cat work

Street art is definitely a powerful art form, and by setting his canvas in Gaza, Banksy’s point about the struggle for power is made stronger by his presence in such a dangerous territory. Whether he truly went there or not does not matter – his image has transcended national borders regardless, and it is his images that survive. His name brings the press to a place that needs to be noticed, and he can provide a media platform internationally. Those images of the kitten, the children and the rest of them make a statement about how there is more to life than war, that people can work towards peace.

Banksy is known for his shock value, so it is only natural that he would choose the Gaza Strip to place his latest artworks.

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