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Banksy and the blue wall in Calais
La jungle de Calais sous les bombes du street art

18 December 2015 Culture
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Banksy did it again! This time, the British street artist took over the walls in Calais. Banksy is famous for his political commitments, and he stressed out the situation of refugees in the "jungle" of Calais in three graffiti.

Art and chaos                                                                                        

Its nickname is "the jungle refugee camp in Calais". In this area located in Northern France, about 6,000 migrants are packed in slums, their eyes fixed on the British shores. Over the last few days, however, they may have been focused somewhere else: on a graffiti made on a piece of wall next to their tents. You can notice Steve Jobs wearing his trademark black turtleneck carrying a computer in one hand and a bag in the other.

The piece of art was made by Banksy, one of the highest-rated street artists in the world. On his website, the British artist explains that: "We're often led to believe migration is a drain on the country's resources but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant and he created one of the most profitable companies in the world." This is not Banksy's first strike: in every project, he manages to question the policies through subversive action.

 

A legend in street art                                                                                  

Banksy is the alias of an artist whose identity is more confidential than Daft Punk. A genius painter and artist, he is without a doubt the most broadcasted street artist of his generation and he is ranked by the Times magazine among the 100 most influential persons. His techniques, which usually involve paintings made with stencils, are often compared to the work of Andy Wharol, Jean-Michel Basquiat or even Keith Haring. Banksy's work mix politics, humour, provocation and poetry, in a backdrop marked by anticapitalism and pacifism.

An extremely productive artist, he made his first piece in Bristol in 1993; today, his pieces of art can be admired all over the world. His last project, Dismaland (in a provocative wink to Disneyland) was a dreadful theme park built on a English beach resort in summer 2015. You could visit a disused Disney castle, witness Cinderella's carriage crash or even fish ducks... mired in oil slick. Dismaland was designed to be critical of consumer society and its illusions in papier-mâché.

The question of migrants in Calais was already in place during Dismaland: when the park, both real and fake, was dismantled in September, parts of it were sent to the French refugee camp so they could be used to build shelters for the migrants.

 

Valued pieces

Banksy made two other stencil pieces in the city centre of Calais. The first is a parody of Géricault's Raft of the Medusa. On the foreground, you can see a raft sinking under the weight of migrants and in the distance an inaccessible ferry such as the ones linking Calais to Dover. On his website, the artists has added this caption: "We're not all in the same boat"

The other graffiti represents a child with a spyglass pointed towards the British shores. On the spyglass, a bird of prey stares at the child in turn. This image stresses the fate, often tragic, of young migrants.

The stencil paintings were made to disturb, and they hit their target: some of them have already been degraded. The city hall of Calais is aware of their value though, and it plans to protect the painting with Plexiglas to prevent further degradations or theft. And for a good reason: Banksy is the rising star of art galleries, and his pieces are valued hundreds of thousands Euros.

© Illustrations extracted from the artist's website




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