British street artist Banksy’s adeptness in turning joyful occasions into politically charged moments of reflection has made the secretive figure a household name.
And in true festive spirit, Banksy is now targeting Christmas.
Unveiled over the weekend, Banksy’s Scar of Bethlehem cuts right to the heart of one of the religious day’s most iconic pieces of imagery — the nativity scene.
British street artist Banksy's 'Scar of Bethlehem' features a miniature Jesus, Mary and Joseph under a shell-pocked rendition of Israel's concrete West Bank barrier https://t.co/AnTXGpFTk4 pic.twitter.com/J0B0f5uP3o
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 22, 2019
Like the millions of replicas worldwide, Mary and Joseph preside over the crib of baby Jesus, except the shining Star of Bethlehem has been replaced with a large bullet hole piercing the concrete West Bank barrier.
The piece is currently displayed in Bethlehem’s Walled Off Hotel, the Banksy-founded guesthouse that overflows with the artist’s savage works.
“Christmas (is) known (for) the Star of Bethlehem, that led people to the birthplace of Jesus,” hotel manager Wissam Salsaa said.
“You see there is a scar. There is a hole on the wall that marks the wall and the life in Bethlehem how it is today.
Whoa. New Banksy piece…
called the Scar of Bethlehem. Jesus is among the suffering. And near to all those who are left out with no room in the inn and locked out by walls of hostility. pic.twitter.com/ut3DW6sZMp
— Shane Claiborne (@ShaneClaiborne) December 21, 2019
“Banksy is trying to remind the world that people of Bethlehem, where Christmas was started, are not celebrating Christmas like the rest of the world.”
The hotel sarcastically trumpets having the “worst view in the world”, a reference to its proximity to the real-life grey wall.
Palestinian locals suggest the construction of the barrier in 2002 – which Israel says is necessary to prevent attacks – has instead inhibited the city, and blocked off access to neighbouring Jerusalem.