‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return. If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe. I shall not talk with you any longer, because the prince of this world is on his way. He has no power over me, but the world must be brought to know that I love the Father and that I am doing exactly what the Father told me.’
Reflection on the Street Art Graffiti work
The week after Easter, I had the privilege to visit the Holy Land. As we were staying for five nights in Bethlehem, we came across this ‘Flower Thrower’ work by street artist Banksy. I purposely show you a wide angle shot I took, so you can imagine how the work fits into its landscape and social context. The work by Banksy first appeared in 2003 as a large format stencilled graffiti, shortly after the construction of the West Bank Wall, a wall which Banksy considers to ‘essentially turn Palestine into the world’s largest open prison’. In fact in 2017, Banksy opened a hotel (the Walled Off hotel, a word-play on the Waldorf Hotel in NY), overlooking the wall. Banksy said that the hotel has “the worst view of any hotel in the world”, overlooking the wall. Its 10 rooms get just 25 minutes of direct sunlight a day. The lodging in Bethlehem is a hotel, museum, protest, educational centre and gallery all in one, packed with the artworks and enraged brilliance of Banksy.
The imagery Banksy uses in the sprayed wall we are looking at today, is inspired by the protester images of the 1960’s college riots of anti-Vietnam war protests. We see the figure of a young man leaning backward with one arm out, as if he is gathering strength and winding up the arm to throw something aggressively. However, instead of being captured in the act of violence, the artist’s subject holds the embodiment of peace: a beautiful bouquet of flowers. His face is partially hidden by a scarf and baseball cap. Instead of waging war, the figure is waging peace!
Banksy, born in Bristol, Great Britain, is arguably the most influential and controversial street artist in the world at the moment. He has developed an entire subculture of devotees following his art works. His identity remains unknown, even after over 20 years of being active and involved within the graffiti scene. The mystery continues as who or ‘they’ might be, maybe a single artist or a group of artists? We don’t know. He gives us an interesting take on the topic of peace Christ mentions in our Gospel today… geographically close to where Jesus did his active ministry.