Dismaland was a success, it closed a couple of months ago, and Christmas is around the corner. For most of us this might be time to rest on our proverbial laurels; but Banksy doesn’t take a break from shining a light on what needs to be illuminated; and he’s now shone a light on the ever-expanding refugee crisis.
A picture of the late Apple founder, Steve Jobs, has appeared sprayed on one of the walls of the migrant refugee camp in Calais. In it, Jobs is depicted holding a bin bag full of belongings and the first Apple computer. The relevance being: Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian refugee. The piece is titled ‘The Jungle’ after the refugee camp, and was painted by Banksy in reaction to the negative attitude towards the estimated 7,000 people living there.
(The artwork’s message is clear: every human being has potential, don’t judge people on their current situation. )
Thanks to Steve Jobs, the son of one Syrian refugee; Apple now permanently employs over 115,000 people. As Banksy says in a rare statement clarifying the intention of his work: “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. Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over $7bn (£4.6bn) a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs.”
Proving his commitment for the refugees is not merely on an emotional or cognitive level, Banksy has been on a more practical mission ever since Dismaland’s closure at the end of September. Banksy and his ‘Dismal aid’ have been shipping over leftover pieces of construction and infrastructure from the Dismaland site in Weston-Super Mare to Calais; that are now being used to make emergency housing and community areas for the thousands of migrants living in the former dump site.
Banksy’s recent trip to the refugee camp in Calais was not the only place he left his mark. In Calais’ town center is a haunting image he has daubed on one of the side streets. It’s take on the shipwreck found in Théodore Géricault’s ‘Raft of the Medusa’; a ravaged sea-scape of wrecked refugees on a little raft, overlooking an ocean liner – probably a cruise ship; under the title ‘We’re Not All In The Same Boat.’
Another image of Banksy’s that has materialized in Calais, is on a beach-front building; and is of a child looking out to see through a telescope, perched on top of the telescope is a vulture; watching, waiting.
Where most others fail to get to the heart, the human heart, of the matter; Banksy can usually be relied upon, and what has emerged from his recent visit to Calais is no exception.