When blank concrete walls are constructed in socioeconomically deprived areas, graffiti is sure to be painted. Not long after the Israeli controlled, Palestinian territory, the West Bank, was imprisoned inside an eight-metre high wall, street art began appearing, most notably by British-artist, Banksy.
Banksy has painted in the occupied Palestinian territories more than once – recently even sneaking through tunnels into Gaza to paint a kitten playing with a ball among other works aimed at forcing us to smile through the understanding of the gross injustice which is happening now. The alternative being to succumb to a feeling of helplessness, similar to the woe being experienced by people in Paris, Beirut, Iraq, and Weston-super-Mare, at this moment, too. His Gaza interventions included an unusually earnest quote: “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful – we don’t remain neutral”.
Bethlehem was chosen for the Pictures on Walls, Santa’s Ghetto exhibition in 2007, which was usually made in Central London. The erection of the wall inspired a new location choice, with around twenty artists, including Peter Blake, Antony Micallef, Paul Insect, Ron English, and Faile, who joined Banksy to make work to sell at a pop-up exhibition held at Manger Square, as well as a series of giant paintings around the city and on the wall itself.Eight years later, and with much of the art produced covered over by fresh work, and a couple of Banksys having been removed from private walls and sold off by local residents, ending up at auction managed by the reprehensible Keszler and Bankrobber galleries, the interventions made by Banksy and other artists have been ineffectual in making the situation improve. Israel tightens the noose on the region.Below is a link to a documentary of the works on the wall and around Bethlehem.