Banksy Revealed As Mastermind Behind Inflatable Migrant Boat At Glasto

Banksy Glasto lead

Banksy has been revealed as the mastermind behind the inflatable boat filled with migrant dummies crowd surfing at Glastonbury. During Idles’ late-night set at the Somerset-based festival, the unanticipated stunt saw an inflatable life raft carrying models in lifejackets—symbolising migrants on the move—suddenly launched into the audience. A short video clip has now appeared on the artist’s Instagram page.

Banksy has responded to criticism from the UK Home Secretary over his migrant crisis artwork. James Cleverly recently condemned his latest artwork, an inflatable boat filled with migrant dummies, as “vile” and “unacceptable.” The piece was displayed at the Glastonbury Music Festival over the weekend.

In an Instagram post on the eve of the UK general election, Banksy shared an image of the Louise Michel, a search-and-rescue boat he funds. This boat has saved many who attempted the perilous journey from North Africa to Europe.

Banksy remarked. “The real boat I fund, the MV Louise Michel, rescued 17 unaccompanied children from the central Med last night. The Italian authorities have detained it as punishment, which seems vile and unacceptable to me.”

Home Secretary Cleverly, appearing on Sky News, commented on Banksy’s work, stating, “There are a bunch of people there joking and celebrating about criminal actions which cost lives. People die. People die in the Mediterranean; they die in the Channel. This is not funny. It is vile.”

When asked if Banksy’s artwork could be seen as a critique of the Conservative Party’sparty’s handling of migrant crossings, Cleverly responded, “Our ability to sort that problem out has been hampered at every stage by the Labour Party, who aspire to border control.”

According to an Instagram post from the crew of the Louise Michel, the vessel was impounded for 20 days in the port of Lampedusa after bad weather prevented it from docking in Pozzallo, Sicily, as ordered by Italian authorities. The crew, seeking safety nearer Lampedusa, received permission to disembark 37 survivors there but were later informed the boat was being detained for not following orders.

“This political game played with people seeking safety needs to end immediately,” the post stated. “No one should be left at sea. Everyone has the right to a safe place. And nobody’s safety should be compromised for political games or strategies! The EU deliberately restricts civil sea rescue operations, risking lives.”

Banksy’s artwork and the subsequent detention of the Louise Michel highlight the ongoing tensions and challenges surrounding the migrant crisis in Europe, as well as the broader political discourse on the issue.

On Monday, British Home Secretary James Cleverly condemned a new Banksy artwork depicting a ‘mock’ migrant boat, showcased at the Glastonbury music festival last weekend, as “vile” and “a celebration of loss of life in the Channel.” Speaking to Sky News, Cleverly dismissed the notion that the artwork could critique his handling of the migrant crisis, insisting instead that it trivializes a serious issue. He emphasised his commitment to combating migrant smugglers while also blaming left-leaning politicians for obstructing conservative efforts to secure the UK’s borders. He reiterated that the Banksy piece was “joking about [the migrants] and celebrating” the tragic situation. Oh, did he get this wrong? He will be out of the office by Friday, so who cares?

Apparently, festival-goers were confused, believing the inflatable boat was part of the Bristol rock band’s performance. The timing, coinciding with a song advocating empathy for migrants and critiquing the government, added to the mystery. However, on Saturday, a representative for the group confirmed that the boat was the creation of the usually anonymous street and performance artist Banksy.

Surprisingly, Idles were only aware of the stunt after their headline set on the Other Stage. As the band performed “Danny Nedelko” and the boat was released, frontman Joe Talbot sang: “My blood brother is an immigrant, a beautiful immigrant. My blood brother is Freddie Mercury, a Nigerian mother of three. He’s made of bones, he’s made of blood. He’s made of flesh; he’s made of love.”

banksy glasto -2
Banksy Glastonbury 2024

Banksy’s connection with the Glastonbury Festival runs deep. In 2019, he designed the Union flag-emblazoned stab-proof vest worn by Stormzy during his Pyramid Stage headline set. In 2014, he commandeered a livestock transportation van, which drove around the festival site with cuddly toys peeking out. The festival has also showcased several of his classic stencil artworks, including one from 2010 that reappeared in 2022 to celebrate Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary.

This year, migration has emerged as a significant theme at Glastonbury. A new area, Terminal 1, has been introduced, replacing the old William’s Green stage. To enter Terminal 1, attendees must answer a question from the UK government’s citizenship test for prospective migrants. Inside, the area features music from representatives of Notting Hill Carnival and Bristol’s St Paul’s Carnival, alongside visual art by global artists such as Love Watts, Yoshi Sodeoka, and Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger.

The scene was broadcast live on the BBC, and contrary to reports, the boat remains visible in the highlights coverage of the set available on BBC iPlayer.

Banksy Glastonbury
Banksy Glastonbury

The move has excited viewers. Simon Geraghty praised Banksy on X, calling it a “brilliant piece of agitprop.” Another user, @Nullen80, linked to the coverage and added, “You’ve gotta love Banksy.” Angie Moxham also commended the artist, stating he “never lets us down.”

Banksy, the elusive and enigmatic British street artist, has captivated the world with his provocative and politically charged artworks. Emerging from the Bristol underground scene in the 1990s, Banksy’s identity remains shrouded in mystery, even as his works have gained international acclaim. His distinctive style, characterized by striking stencils and satirical imagery, often addresses themes of social justice, war, consumerism, and political hypocrisy.

Despite his anonymity, Banksy’s influence is unmistakable. His pieces have appeared on walls, bridges, and streets worldwide, turning urban landscapes into open-air galleries. Some of his most iconic works include the mural of a girl releasing a heart-shaped balloon, the poignant depiction of a masked protester throwing a bouquet of flowers, and the controversial “Devolved Parliament,” featuring chimpanzees in the House of Commons.

Banksy’s impact extends beyond street art. His provocative installations and subversive exhibitions, such as “Dismaland,” a dystopian theme park, challenge viewers to confront uncomfortable truths about contemporary society. In 2019, he made headlines with the creation of a stab-proof vest emblazoned with the Union Jack, worn by Stormzy during his Glastonbury Festival performance.

Despite the commercialization of his art, with pieces fetching millions at auction, Banksy continues to critique the very systems that profit from his work. His anonymity preserves a sense of authenticity and reinforces his critique of the commodification of art.

Banksy’s enduring appeal lies in his ability to provoke thought and inspire change, using the streets as his canvas and society as his muse. His work remains a powerful commentary on the complexities and contradictions of modern life, ensuring his legacy as one of the most influential and mysterious artists of our time.

Top/insert Photo via X

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