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Banksy's 2013 print Dumbo was created as part of his film project, Rebel Rocket Attack, during a New York residency. Turning his satirical eye to spoofing Syrian rebels, Banksy features one man standing atop the flying elephant, as the other rebels celebrate their mythical prize with weapons pointed skywards.

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Meaning & Analysis

Originating from his 2013 film project Rebel Rocket Attack, Banksy’s Dumbo print depicts the titular cartoon character held hostage by rebel fighters. The film was created during his New York residency in 2013, and takes the war in Syria as its subject. The video is a direct spoof of the YouTube videos uploaded by Syrian rebels throughout the conflict, and this Banksy print is based on a project still.

Rebel Rocket Attack shows footage of a group of fighters firing a man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS) at an unidentifiable flying object. The assumption is that the rocket has struck a Syrian regime aircraft, as the rebels celebrate, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ over and over as the object crashes to the ground. It turns out the target of their shot was Dumbo, the well-loved Disney character, who dies at the rebels' feet.

The print shows the iconic flying baby elephant after he has been shot out of the sky. One of the men is on top of Dumbo, celebrating the kill, while three other men point their weapons at the pathetic-looking hostage. Rendered largely in black and white, with a touch of pastel yellow on Dumbo’s hat, this artwork has been finished with watercolour and signed in pencil by Banksy himself.

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