Banksy’s paintings on the Israeli-Palestinian separation barrier paved the way for a new wave of artists from around the world. Banksy was the first. He was soon followed by several street artists who wanted to showcase their work in one of the world’s most conflicted areas.
The 725-kilometre-long separation barrier was supposed to be completed in 2010. Today, only some 60% has been built. The world is trying to coax the parties into new peace negotiations. It is unclear whether the barrier will ever be finished. But it is clear that the 8-metre-tall concrete barrier that already exists affects and provokes strong emotions. It is also clear that it has become something of a street art MOMA, with works by the greatest names. Art asks questions and clarifies the opposition. The thought of giving the local populace something pretty to look at clashes with the reluctance among many Palestinians to decorate the barrier and give new life to the debate on how to relate to the existence of the barrier. Should it be decorated or ignored? Or be preserved as a symbol of the conflict?
In the new book, Concrete Messages, artists from around the world talk about why they chose to travel to the West Bank to work on the barrier. What did they want to achieve, and what were their experiences in this conflict-ridden area?
Zia Kohn & Joyce Lagerweij will launch Concrete Messages: Street Art on the Israeli-Palestinian Separation Barrier at ABC Amsterdam this November.