I’ve always been amazed about how people transform pain in beauty by art. This is happening in Bethlehem too through Banksy’s graffiti and all the other messages and drawings that tell us the stories beyond the Wall.
If you will travel to West Bank from Israel’s side, it’s impossible not to see a huge wall separating the two places. Israel considers it a security barrier against terrorism, while Palestinians call it a racial segregation or apartheid wall. Seeing it from both sides, as a visitor, I felt the limitation of freedom and more being unsafe. In our subconscious, when we build this kind of barrier, it’s a consequence of fear and a declaration of force not necessarily a way to have peace. I think this wall is actually a fail of humanity that instead of trying to accept the differences and to understand the reasons behind hating each other, they live in fear of knowing only what it had been told about the other.
But who is Banksy? I am not so educated in contemporary art so for me, it was the first when I heard about him, in Bethlehem when I saw the Wall and the Hotel next to it. According to Wikipedia he “is an anonymous England-based street artist, vandal, political activist, and film director, active since the 1990s”, pretty cool, no? I was touched by his way to tell stories putting together childhood and war, and I think this is another kind of activism that sometimes has a bigger impact on tourists at least. And I say tourists because, in March 2017, it was opened Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel located next to the Wall, helping to bring more visitors to Palestine.
We were lucky to be invited to an opening Gallery in this Hotel where young artists were presenting their work. There we met Yazan, a student at the Art University of Bethlehem, who had some pictures exposed in the gallery. In his work, I felt the anxiety, the sadness, and the sensation of living under occupation. The lines and the lack of color create the idea of the prison and just the color of the sun brings the image of hope.
Do you think Art could be a form of resistance in this situation? Is it possible that one picture can change mindsets and invites you to take action? Or do you think that these questions are too naive and actually every artist puts higher the fame and the economical interests than the meaning and the purpose of his art?