Street Artist Banksy Comes to Paris


Banksy, a well-known but anonymous street artist from Great Britain, has confirmed that a rash of random street art in Paris is indeed his work.

The confirmation came earlier this week, when he began to post photos of the drawings on his Instagram account. The pictures, which many initially thought were not his actual work, are drawn in various symbolic places throughout the French capital.

Not much is known about Banksy, except that he is from Bristol and has posted his work in New York, London and Gaza. His art focuses on left-wing causes, and he often uses rats to represent the poor and needy, in an apparent reference to Blek le Rat, a Parisian street artist who worked during the 1968 strike in the city. Some believe that Banksy is Robert Del Naja, a member of the Bristol band Massive Attack.

His focus in Paris seems to be the migrant crisis. France, as well as many other western European countries, are currently taking in a large number of immigrants from the Middle East and Africa. Many come to the continent illegally, and while some are refugees from violence in places like Syria, others are look for economic opportunity.

The European Union largely supports the new arrivals and pushes for member states to accept them, but increasingly, the people of France and other nations are becoming frustrating with their burgeoning numbers and the strain that it is putting on welfare and law enforcement. Fear of terrorism and radicalization are other factors, especially since France is only recently getting over a rash of violent incidents.

Emmanuel Macron, the president of France since last year, is largely pro-EU but has been seeking a tougher stance against migrants as of late. Banksy, as one might imagine, is more supportive of the newcomers.

Some of his artworks include:

  • A mural of a refugee girl, depicted trying to paint over a swastika; it is near a refugee center that Macron closed. It has since been altered by others to make it look as if the girl was painting the swastika herself.
  • A woman in mourning at the Bataclan theater, where a massive terrorist attack killed 90 in 2015.
  • A rat with ears and a bow like Minnie Mouse, along with the words "May 1968," near the Sorbonne University. May be a comment on the perceived current lack of revolutionary spirit.
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