On Wednesday, British street artist Banksy unveiled a whole new body of work — and video — created in Gaza to bring attention to the people who live there in the aftermath of the Israeli army’s most recent military campaign. Israel justifies the attacks as a necessary battle against Hamas, but Banksy likens the IDF to wardens of “the world’s largest open air prison,” trapping Palestinians in their homeland without electricity or water. As pundits, critics and supporters on both sides weigh in on the poignant work, ANIMAL reached out to street artists to hear their take.

Roycer

 
I’ve never been a huge Banksy fan, but I respect his use of the environment. I guess a war-torn place such as the Gaza strip could use some color or a quick escape from all the madness.

 
 
 

Chris RWK

 
chrisrwk_signature1_I think it’s needed. No matter what side you agree with, something like art can open up conversation and possibly minds. Graff, fine art, street art, photography, etc., have been a voice for many people and many things. So whether it’s a video, tag, painting, etc., it might just make someone second-think something they always thought.

 

Cosbe

 
cosbesigniture_Who?

Just kiddin’. I just sort of glanced at this as I was walking out the door but I applaud that he’s still making street work and his dedication to his craft. He always seems to put a lot of thought and energy into his spots and his subject matter and it’s been amazing to watch it evolve into such a global phenomenon.

I still think it’s sad and tragic that while people were hunting down his artwork in the streets during his last NYC visit a small autistic child went missing and no one found him until weeks later when his remains were discovered and it turned out he was murdered. Rest In Peace Avonte Oquendo.

 

ME

 
me_signatureI think it’s great. I really like looking at cute kittens on the internet.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Joseph Meloy

 
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I think these works are important because they remind us that beyond the headlines and government-level big-picture geopolitical battles, real people, young and old, are suffering.

 

Cernesto

 
cernsignature I think he did a great job with the video and I like the play on tourism. I’d be interested to know more what the locals feel about the work and also would like to know more about the murals that appear in the background of the footage.

 
 
 

Brandon Sines

 
franksignatureAfter looking at the pictures and giving it some thought, all I can really say is it’s classic Banksy, cool juxtapositions of playful and terrifying. The kitten is a nice touch though.

 
 

EDAPT

 
sts-jan15-edapt-signitureI’m a big fan of this work. I know some people try to act too cool for school when it comes to Banksy, but I appreciate that he is using his massive following (and likely his PR team) to bring awareness to this conflict. I was blown away when he painted the separation wall in 2005. Sometimes some silly art on a wall can have a profound effect. I hope this is one of those times. I’m sure there are countless Instagram followers who just had some serious knowledge dropped on them for the fist time.

 

Rocko

 
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Much respect to Banksy’s efforts to shed light on this very sensitive and sad ongoing problem in the Gaza Strip. He gets extra respect for being a non-Middle Eastern who took on this issue and the risks along his journey!

 
 

Jay Shells

 
jayshells_LogoLike most of Banksy’s work, I think it’s quite clever. His/her/their work usually is. But there is no context for the destruction shown in this work. Like any good (street) artist knows, framing and context is everything. The missing piece of the frame here is the context in which Israel launched this defensive war. 13,000 missiles had fallen on Israel before the IDF got involved. All this after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 (leaving behind schools, hospitals, greenhouses and farms which were all destroyed after the withdrawal). Where is Banksy’s outrage at the atrocities of Hamas on its own people? Where is Banksy’s critique of the random fire on Israeli children? Did Banksy visit Israeli-Arab towns to ask whether those folks would prefer to be part of a Hamas-led government or remain in Israel where they prosper?

Before Hamas was elected into power and began firing rockets into Israel, the people of Gaza were not “trapped” there, but could come and go more freely. Did Banksy put up any work on the Egyptian border which also prevents the people of Gaza from crossing into Gaza? No footage of Egyptian soldiers on their border with Gaza? No comment on Hamas killing 31 Egyptian soldiers on the border with Gaza? No comment on the over 1,200 homes Egypt destroyed in Gaza to expand their “buffer zone”? I guess Banksy didn’t have enough time.

I’d love to see Banksy’s intelligent mind(s) working towards a peaceful solution. I have family and friends in Israel who have had Hamas rockets fired at their town hundreds of times. I have Arab friends who have family who have had rockets fired at their town hundreds of times in response to Hamas rocket attack. Civilians on both sides just want to live their lives and in many cases, get along with each other just fine. Like all conflicts, there are more sides than one and more stories to tell. It would be nice if Banksy highlighted the atrocities Hamas commits against its people in Gaza, rather than just blaming Israel. Pointing and making sarcastic observations about the carnage and suffering of others doesn’t help anyone move towards a peaceful solution. And the world doesn’t need any help hating Israel or Jews, but I’d like to thank Banksy for adding some fuel to the fire. We evil Jews are to blame for most of the world’s problems after all, ay mate?

I have a lot to say about this, and it’s all very complicated which is why Banksy’s over-simplification doesn’t help anyone—especially those living in Gaza. Here’s a good read from Bassem Eid about the conflict that can explain the situation better than I ever could.

For the record, I believe there is hope for a two-state solution. I love all people no matter who they prey to. I wish everyone could just live their lives peacefully together. Unfortunately, humans don’t know how to place nice. We are the worst. But I digress.

Banksy, your work is dope, but you’re missing so much of this story and doing the people a disservice.

(Photo: Kai Wiedenhöfer)