The Bristol-born Street Artist Banksy has unveiled a 20m high mural in New York to highlight the detention of Zehra Dogan, the Kurdish painter from Turkey. The artwork depicts a figure representing Ms Dogan behind bars with the final bar shown as a pencil, next to the painting. This represents a call for her release.
The latest Banksy’s mural marks Zehra Dogan’s first year in custody
Dogan was jailed for two years and nine months last year in Turkey, for her painting of the Kurdish town Nusaybin. The representation has been taken from a newspaper photograph, showing the town reduced to rubble during the conflict.
The photograph was taken by government forces in the area where they had fought Kurdish militants. It features Turkish flags draped over destroyed buildings. Dogan posted her watercolour painting on social media and was subsequently arrested and sentenced.
The latest Banksy mural marks her first year in custody. The work is painted on the historic Bowery Wall made famous by artist Keith Haring during the 80s. The image was created by another artist, known as Borf, who has served time in prison for his graffiti.
Dogan has yet to hear about the mural, according to Banksy’s people. The jailed artist is said to share a cell with 40 inmates, receiving only periodic visits. An image of her painting was projected above the artwork on the evening of 15 March.
Banksy is one of the most discussed, debated and acclaimed cultural figures of our age. His anonymous persona has captivated international audiences since the late 1990s. An urban artist, his media ranges from painting on canvas, screen-prints and sculpture to large installations and even the occasional livestock. His artwork reveals a unique mix of humour and humanity; it is created for the masses and affords a voice for those in – and indeed outside – of society who would otherwise not be heard. A recent example is his commentary on the refugee crisis and the after-effects of Dismaland. His anonymity and refusal to conform mean that he is as difficult to nail down as is his artwork, and thus a survey of his works has never been officially or unofficially exposed in a private museum to a public audience.
Photo: Courtesy Banksy.com