Any true fan of modern art should have no problem recognizing the name Banksy. For all those who aren’t as knowledgeable, Banksy is one of the most renowned street artist of this generation. His pieces have pushed the boundaries of political and social activism and have been made a spectacle of whenever they appear in some of the world’s most highly populated cities. Banksy’s tags have been scene in London, New York City, Palestine, Disneyland, Paris, Sydney and Corfu Town in Greece to name a few. His work is usually a critic of current society or an exploitation of a known political taboo. He is a revolutionary with a spray can.
In honor of the holidays, Christmas in particular, Banksy painted a portrait of Mary and Joseph on their fabled trek to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus of Nazareth. Instead of this portrait being like any tradition portrait of this scene from the Bible, Banksy decided to add some realism from modern time and painted in the Israeli West Bank Barrier that, if the journey was made today, would block Mary and Joseph’s path. This painting is a critique of the separatism between two nations today that were once so easily traveled. It shows that the conflict is getting in the way of what could be, in this case the birth of the Christian son of God. It can be interpreted through this work that if the division of present day Israel and Palestine was evident during the Biblical era, Mary and Joseph would have become refugees much like the thousands who have been stripped of their homeland by Israel’s strict border control.
The painting was first exhibited at Santa’s Ghetto exhibit in London in 2005 shortly after Banksy’s famous trip to the Middle East and has resurfaced on Twitter in wake of the numerous conflicts going on today that effect people from that area and of course the holiday season. This Christmas card going viral has brought Banksy’s name back into online circulation and hopefully is enough to bring him out of hiding to give the world more of his ground breaking street art. Banksy’s last venture was to the United States and created a media frenzy. Hopefully, the art world will be blessed with a Christmas miracle and Banksy will make his presence known once again. Until then, we have thousands of prints, photographs, paintings, and sculptures of his to hold us over.