After so many attempts, both successful and unsuccessful, to remove, borrow or destroy Banksy’s famous pieces, governments and authorities sometimes make an official decision to protect and preserve the artwork. This is also the case for some of the latest pieces made by the elusive street artist in Calais. Banksy’s mural depicting Steve Jobs as a Syrian refugee is one of the three pieces which appeared in the French port of Calais last week. Dubbed as Steve Jobs the Son of Syrian Migrant, the mural holds significant meaning and conveys an important message. Two other works of the same artist found in the Jungle are also to be protected and secured by a shield glass of transparent plastic panels.
The life-size mural of Steve Jobs carrying a shoulder bag and an early model of an Apple computer portrays the artist’s views on the entire migration situation. As Banksy himself explained, Steve Jobs was in fact a son of a Syrian migrant, and it is thanks to him that one of the world’s most profitable companies even exists. And it was all because they allowed a young man from Homs into their country. Of course, the current state of affairs cannot be quite literally compared to the situation decades ago, but ultimately, Banksy’s message is clear.
As Calais city spokeswoman said, they’d found out about the presence of this artwork on Friday, and had decided to protect it against any potential damage. The mayor of town, Natacha Bouchart, stated for the local newspaper that the artwork represented an opportunity for Calais. In her opinion, it was very good and it had a message. Even though the iconic artist’s own identity has never been officially confirmed, his publicist, Jo Brooks, confirmed that the work in the encampment in the camp was genuine.
Another two artworks made for Calais are to be preserved by the authorities. A child looking towards England through a telescope with a vulture perching on it is Banksy’s second mural made in the camp. A very stark contrast of hope and dreams against the harsh reality is depicted in this mural. The third piece, located closer to the immigration office, is a reproduction of a black-and-white version of The Raft of the Medusa by the French painter Theodore Gericault. The mural shows survivors on a raft waving towards a yacht on the horizon. The simple, yet effective piece carries a strong message which the author also captioned on his website, saying: “We’re not all in the same boat.”
The anonymous creator has already shown interest in helping out and addressing the migrants situation by sending out the timber and materials from his massive Dismaland project. These actions of the artist prove that his continual support and engagement are not just for show, and that our efforts should be joined together in order to sort out the situation which affects us all. Many people try to turn a blind eye to this entire deal, and the writing found in another location in the port perhaps best summarizes this view: “Maybe this whole situation will just sort itself out..” Or, perhaps not… Either way, Banksy’s murals stand as a reminder of the gravity of the situation, and they are to be protected from removal or any kind of damaging. When it comes to ownership and belonging of street art, it is a matter already a bit too familiar to the mysterious street artist. At least these murals will remain untouched and unchanged for the time being, hopefully not the same status will apply to the migrants.
All images used for illustrative purposes only