There has been extensive news coverage and hype this month around the recent Banksy street-art mural that literally popped up on the hanging door of a bombed house in Gaza… and in true Banksy fashion, it was a clever choice of canvas and painting with an attached sentiment conveyed visually for the world to ponder, and we are very sure it was all well-intentioned.
As a fan of Banksy’s talents, and what he anonymously represents as a politically-charged global street artist, we watched the video release that followed from his visit to the war-torn region and felt it was very powerful.
His brand of street-art always conveys an instantly grasping message, and the marketing or PR aspects of what he does have a momentum all of its own; and always grabbing much attention in the headlines.
Banksy has become very much globally renowned for his work over the years, and the three paintings he revealed whilst in Gaza certainly got the kind of coverage worldwide expected. It’s quite easy for any artist to criticise what the artist has achieved over the years, but the manner in which it is done… it must surely be respected!
But the Banksy in Gaza publicity stunt didn’t just end with the clever visual message… on the ground in the region where many conflicts, hardship, and struggles exist amongst local communities, it brought much ill-feeling from locally based creatives and artists who feel they are very much unheard and supported in comparison to the already famous UK artist.
The controversy escalated locally when the owner of the demolished house door on which Banksy chose as the canvas for one of his paintings got duped into selling it to another person for a fraction of the price it is likely to be worth. The situation eventually escalated into local Police having to seize the art work due to the dispute it caused.
The other interesting local response was general feelings invoked about a famous, western artist coming into the region anonymously, and getting such an array of global publicity within days.
Many struggling local creatives and artists on the ground questioned why their work is never supported by the wider global communities.
A natural response we felt when considering the lack of local opportunities for creatives in Gaza, and then we heard about a young 13-year-old boy who decided to convey this local feeling with his proactive response.
Mohammad Qreqi’s actions captured our attention not only because we always strive to support local based talent who require it all around the world, but because we felt that his actions, similarly as with Banksy’s work; also conveyed a hard-hitting underlying message with an alternative angle of food-for-thought for the masses.
Mohammad heard about the visit of the famous western artist to the region of Gaza from his Facebook feed online and chose to recreate a replica version of the weeping Greek Goddess Niobe, on exactly the same kind of door that Banksy did whilst in Gaza.
His plea from his actions is to be heard by the global community in the same light as other talented artists such as Banksy are heard, or at least given the opportunities to get heard.
He posts his artwork on Facebook regularly and has interacted with many online from outside the region who show appreciation for his talents. When other local artists were shown the door on which Mohammad created his replica, they all thought it was the real Banksy version itself and this has enhanced his own belief in his talents further and he is hoping it will also encourage others to show support.