During the night between May 8
, in conjunction with the opening’s celebration of the Biennale Art 2019, the famous street artist Bansky gave life to the work “Migrant Child” in Campo San Pantalon, Venice.
The artwork represents a child with a life jacket, holding a torch that emanates a thick and bright pink smoke, the only touch of color of the murales.
The aim was to dialogue, visually and thematically, with the work “Barca Nostra” by Christoph Büchel, exhibited at the Arsenale. That installation was recalling the shipwreck of a boat in the see between Libya and Italy which led to the disappearance of approximately a thousand migrants.
If the theme of the installation at the Biennale Arte was well defined and clear, the same cannot be said for the street artwork, which assumed much larger meanings.
“Migrant Child”, in fact, has become the symbol of all those who suffer, regardless of language, religion, culture, origin or social status: as underlined by the use of black and white to depersonalize the figure. People who, in the general indifference, try to escape from their home and land, leaving everything behind and perhaps not even having the opportunity to mourn their beloved lost on the way. The metaphorical color of the smoke symbolizes the HOPE of who is risking his/her own life in order to reach a better future. During these hard times, Bansky’s message still holds the power to communicate and this is the reason why we are talking about it now. Another reason is because of the issue raised right in the last few months, when it was advanced the possibility to restore the graffiti.
The same as the voice of the individuals represented by the migrant child, Banksy's graffiti of denunciation is at risk of disappearing, along with his message full of humanity. The work, in fact, is located on a wall that overlooks a canal and the brackish water will end up eroding it over time. Already today, after only four years, the colors are very faded and a public debate is going on between various entities, artists and intellectuals about the chance of taking action to safeguard and restore the graffiti. On one side there are those who consider street art (particularly on these circumstances, realized on an old and semi destroyed building) as something temporary, which inherently has the possibility to disappear, leaving space for other drawings and messages; on the other one, are those who consider Banksy's work as public artwork that is worthy of being preserved, especially for the timeless message it brings.
This turns to be a burning issue in Venice, since we live in a very ancient city subjected to various challenges over time: invasions, fires, wars, epidemics, bad weather conditions. Historically, every vicissitude has been converted into the pretext to create beauty: the legacy is enormous and only the artists of the stature of Bansky are not afraid of adding values, to remind us that the goal of every era is to leave its mark for the future one, not to simply preserve the passage of those who preceded. We have the task of being guardians and generators.
What do you think about it?