Banksy Takes on Syrian Refugee Crisis With New Piece Featuring Steve Jobs

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Banksy’s at it again, and this time he’s got something to say about the Syrian refugee crisis currently occupying the world’s consciousness. His latest project brings him to the Calais refugee camp outside of France.

The center of this project is the painting of Steve Jobs on a wall, set amongst the tents and clothes lines that are scattered throughout the camp. it features Jobs with a sack over one shoulder and an old, original Mac in his other hand. The explanation on Banksy’s website reads: “the son of a migrant from Syria.”

It’s an interesting commentary on the world’s recent shifting perspective around accepting Syrian refugees into their countries. Many American states have notoriously taken a hard line stance refusing to accept refugees into their borders. It seems that Banksy is trying to remind folks that Jobs, who has been considered one of the most respected visionaries of our time, was the son of Syrian refugees.

Do note that as Polygon’s Ashley Carman points out, Jobs rejected his biological parents and said that he identified more with his adopted family. Regardless, the commentary still stands—at least in my opinion.

The Jobs piece is but one part of the project. Remember Dismaland? It seems that after its closing, Banksy sent the workers from Dismaland to Calais, getting them to help build shelters and provide aid to the refugees currently living in the camp. There’s a photo gallery of the “Dismal Aid” effort on the Dismaland website complete with a statement that reads:

Creating housing from surplus materials and leftover workers.

When Dismaland closed its doors it was decided that instead of chucking all the leftover crew in the bin they should be recycled into aid workers. They’ve since travelled to the Calais migrant camp and so far have completed 12 dwellings, a community area and a children’s play park.

The photos in the gallery are in keeping with the stark, bleak feeling of Dismaland.

dismal aid

Perhaps the greatest irony in this entire thing is that the Jobs piece will undoubtedly be preserved with a plastic covering at some point in the future, and could very well sell for a lot of money while this crisis continues. This is perhaps the meta commentary on the entire project, as it’s such a strange dissonance to think that people may end up shelling out lots of cash for a Banksy piece while this crisis still continues.

Moreover, it’ll be interesting to see what people say about preserving the piece while completely disregarding the preservation of life that lies at the center of the refugee crisis.

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Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.