Forever Under Construction

Xmas, a Bday & a Wall

Posted in Art, Graffiti, Political Art by homeyra on February 24, 2008

Banksy is Britain’s most celebrated “invisible street artist. He only mounts shows in warehouses or war zones and places full of live animals *.

His annual month-long Santa’s Ghetto exhibition usually takes place in London but this year he staged it in Bethlehem in a shop opposite the Church of the Nativity.

The exhibition featured new works for sale by “… like-minded artists from all over the world to raise awareness of the situation in Palestine” to benefit local needy children through charities.

flyer-santas-ghetto-2007.jpgBut the idea of Santa’s Ghetto goes back to 2003 when Banksy
felt that “the spirit of Christmas was being lost. It was becoming increasingly uncommercialised and more and more to do with religion so we decided to open our own shop and sell pointless stuff you didn’t need.”

Banksy had been to the West Bank a number of time and he had already painted nine pieces on the separation wall back in 2005. This year he added six new paintings and the event coincided with the Santa’s Ghetto Christmas exhibit.

ghetto_home_1stnite.jpgThis online exhibition made just shy of one million dollars. “With the money we’re providing thirty university places for kids from the poor parts of town and the refugee camps… helping a grassroots organisation … the rest of the money has gone into a trust fund …

You can also see this video here

A local: “I think it is high time for artists like Banksy and other international artists to come here, because our institutions here are so absurd, so strange and so contradictory, that it is like heaven for a modern artist …”


With the concrete barrier around three sides of the town, “Bethlehem‘s key tourism industry has suffered a dramatic drop in recent years.” Through the website, Banksy said tourists need not fear visiting the West Bank. “It would do good if more people came to see the situation here for themselvesIf it is safe enough for a bunch of sissy artists then it’s safe enough for anyone.”

Escapism, 2005
three times the height of the Berlin Wall, the separation wall will eventually run for over 700km – the distance from London to Zurich…”

You wouldn’t worry about Christmas becoming too commercial in Bethlehem — they couldn’t afford it. There’s more festive lights in the window of your local Woolworths than you’ll find in this entire townBanksy wrote in a message to British newspaper the Times.

Art Attack

Banksy‘s exchange in 2005 with a resident of Ramallah:

Old man: You paint the wall, you make it look beautiful.
Me: Thanks
Old man: We don’t want it to be beautiful, we hate this wall, go home.

Installation by Palestinian artist Trash

Banksy‘s previous political statements include:

Hanging a picture of a cave man pushing a shopping cart in the British Museum, unnoticed for up to 3 days. This “primitive” portrait became a part of the British Museum’s permanent collection.

Placing a life size figure of a Guantanamo Bay detainee in Disneyland. You can see the preparation, the installation and the removal of the detainee in this short movie on Banksy‘s website.


Spanish artist Sam3‘s graffiti work

Participating artists: Banksy, Swoon, Ron English, Blu from Italy, Sam3 from Spain, the long-standing Banksy collaborator Paul Insect, Gee Vaucher, Aiko, Brooklyn-based Bast, Lucy Mac, Kelsey Brooks, Anthony Micallef, portraitist Jonathan Yeo, Conor Harrington, Eric the dog, 3d, Suleiman Mansour among others.

Italian artist Blu‘s graffiti

Artist Peter Kennard relates the set up of the exhibition, already posted by Ann with an additional video and Ben.

Links relevant to the Art:
Who is Bansky? A must see video
Bansky’s homepage
Banksy on Artofthestate
Kilroy Banksy was here, The New Yorker
Wooster collectif a street art website
List of street artists
Kolahstudio interviews Blu


Links relevant to the Wall:
The story of the wall: An animated presentation by Gush Shalom
The wall on Google Earth
The barrier wall map
Q&A: What is the West Bank barrier? BBC
Interactive wall graphic, the Guardian
Is it a Fence? Is it a Wall?

And the birthday: Israel’s 60th birthday
Life must go on in Gaza and Sderot: Peace Man meets Hope Man


9 Responses

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  1. thrpoetryman said, on February 25, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Incredible! This is the kind of art that is the most influential and most needed in a world gone mad…

    Thank you for this lovely post!

  2. homeyra said, on February 26, 2008 at 6:43 am

    The Yes Men of the arts! Maybe the Yes Men are the Banksy in the business and political world.
    Until this post I knew only superficially about him, you won’t be disappointed if you read his bio. Tks TPM, I am glad you liked this post.

  3. Kilroy said, on February 26, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Wow! I’ll be here for days enjoying this great post, Homeyra. Thank you so much. You really have the knack for celebrating art and artists.

    My fav Banksy spray paint art is the little girl frisking the soldier. I had no idea he was into so many other materials.

    And thanks for Peace Man and Hope Man are tunneling through the wall between Sderot and Gaza.


  4. Renegade Eye said, on February 27, 2008 at 5:41 am

    That is incredible work.

    Poetryman is another incredible artist.

  5. homeyra said, on February 27, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Some of the links are good, don’t miss the movies on his websites.
    I see Banksy as a crusader.
    Speaking of on of his shows he said:
    “Essentially, it’s about what a horrible place the world is, how unjust and cruel and pointless life is, and ways to avoid thinking about all that. One of the best ways turned out to be sitting in a warehouse making 50 paintings about cruelty, pain and pointlessness. You get immune. I painted one picture of a Western family eating a picnic in a village of starving African children called I HATE EATING MY DINNER IN FRONT OF THE NEWS, and got so obsessed with painting each and every fly on those kids’ faces, I never once thought about a starving kid for a second.”

    I am glad that he – perhaps “they”, I mean a Banksy team – is fashionable among celebrities. I will certainly post more about him. And this just came out: a new exhibition.

  6. عمار - aMmAr said, on February 28, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    very innovative art, i cant go into details as i aint an art student 😛 but the message is well read through out. tx for sharing 🙂

  7. Bluebear2 said, on February 28, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Really great stuff!

  8. peoplesgeography said, on February 29, 2008 at 5:34 am

    Great post. This artist makes my day.

  9. homeyra said, on February 29, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Mine too 🙂
    According to an art critic, Banksy is like a present day Punch magazine.

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