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They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, yet few realize that a drawing can be worth a million unsaid words, that it can provoke, entice, alleviate or aggravate a populace into action and as such bring about much desired change. In the U.S. during World War 2 it was the classic “America wants you!” poster with iconography of Uncle Sam that became one of the symbols of America’s entry into the war.
At the present the Apple logo has become synonymous with high quality innovative products that not only address a technological need but speak to the aesthetic senses of consumers resulting in the logo becoming one of the best known symbols in the world.
It is based on these two examples that it can be seen that drawings can become not only symbols of an age but become so etched into the minds of the general populace. That they become indelible, irremovable and best of all become a means of association regarding behaviors, psychological processes or even ethical and moral trains of thought.
The artist Banksy counts on these means of association and their ability to influence individuals in order to help promote radical social thought regarding present day practices. His normal canvas consists of the walls of well travelled locations in which he creates what some would term graffiti artwork in order to point out political and social concepts that question the actions of present day governments, organizations or even companies.
His artwork is meant to be thought provoking, it is meant to question, entice people to look, stare and think for themselves over the legitimacy, morality and overall ethical nature of events as he portrays them.
Overall his work is the un-gagged truth of a political activist that utilizes street canvases as his way of pointing out that there are problems present, little is being done, and as such someone must get the word out in order for people to become more aware and do something about. It is based on this particular personal philosophy that Banksy finds himself drawing graffiti art on the West Banks of Palestine.
In an area separating the Israeli and Palestinian areas of the West Bank is “the Wall”, it is three times higher than the Berlin Wall, stretches as far as 700 kilometers and is the modern day equivalent of turning Palestine into an open air prison where its inhabitants are allowed minimal access to their fields and are not allowed to venture out.
It is in this location that the anonymous graffiti artist Banksy has placed 9 suggestive pieces along several well travelled areas of “the Wall” in order to create social thought regarding the moral and ethical justification over its creation.
His graffiti art consisted of an outline of a girl clutching several balloons flying over the wall, the depiction of a hole in the wall showing either an island paradise or a mountainous landscape on the other side, a drawing of a child creating a ladder going to the other side as well as other similar works with the same motif.
The prevailing theme in each and every single one is a question over the legitimacy of the wall being there and what gives Israel the right to remove the freedom of an entire people. While it may be true that the Hamas government has been distinctly anti-Israel and has indeed caused numerous terrorist activities aimed at the country that fact remains that despite such activities Israel has no right in erecting such an expansive wall in order to limit the freedom of the people within.
As stated by the International Court of Justice its erection symbolizes a step backward in the peace process in the Middle East since it shows that Israel is not willing to resolve the differences it has with its neighbors rather it would choose to shut them away and virtually punish an entire population over the actions of a few. It is this very situation that Banksy is trying to question with his various artworks placed along the walls perimeter.
The purpose of Banksy’s artwork in this particular case is to incite new levels of social thought within the Palestinian populace. Questions related to “how far can we be pushed” or “enough is enough” are the very thought processes that Banksy is trying to incite. This is not to say that Banksy is an anarchist, far from it, rather what his artwork stands for is a call towards freedom, justice, and the preservation of the rights of all individuals.
In this case it stands for the right of all people within Palestine to be free and not be dictated by the arbitrarily will of a government that doesn’t truly understand the suffering they are inflicting on the Palestinian people.
For Banksy what is occurring in Palestine is a great injustice and as such the artwork he created brings this social injustice into the forefront of people’s minds, it helps them think, question and attempt to bring about the much needed action to change the current situation and find a solution that removes such an injustice from their lives.
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Banksy’s artwork can be considered a million words condensed onto a concrete canvas. It asks for change, for justice and above all for the freedom of the individual to live life without the shackles imposed on them from an outside entity.
When examining the situation in Palestine it becomes all too obvious that something needs to be done or else the entire population will wind up prisoners within their own land. In a sense Banksy acts as a voice for those who cannot speak out, his artwork creates a visual representation of what was lost, what people are currently suffering and what must be done in order to resolve such a problem.
While such methods are doubted in the beginning, the sheer proliferation of pictures of the artwork he created on the West Bank over the internet has brought greater attention to the plight of the Palestinian people and as such has millions questioning the legitimacy of Israel’s actions and the lack of moral or ethical responsibility its leaders seem to have for the plight of millions of which they are directly responsible.