LONDON // English street artist Banksy has taken on the refugee crisis in a new mural at the infamous “Jungle” migrant camp in the French town of Calais.
The elusive graffiti artist has depicted the late Apple guru, Steve Jobs – whose biological father was from Syria – carrying a black rubbish bag and an early model of the Macintosh computer.
Few of the refugees in the camp, mostly from Syria, knew who Banksy or Jobs were but the artist explained he had depicted the latter in his trademark black polo to underline the late computing king’s connection with the war-torn country.
“We’re often led to believe migration is a drain on the country’s resources but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant,” said Banksy in a rare public statement.
“Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over US$7bn (Dh25.7bn) a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs,” added Banksy, who painted two other works in downtown Calais, including his own take on French painter Gericault’s “Raft of the Medusa”.
Instead of the Argus vessel which picked up a handful of survivors of the Medusa after their frigate was shipwrecked in 1816, Banksy’s version shows a car-ferry representing those that cross the English Channel every day, and which remain inaccessible to refugees eying a new life in Britain.
On Banksy’s website and underneath the Jobs picture is the caption: “The son of a migrant from Syria”.
Under the Gericault pastiche is the slogan: “We’re not all in the same boat”.
The third painting on a Calais beach, which Banksy also published on Saturday on his website, shows a child with windswept hair, a suitcase at his feet, longingly peering at the distant British coast through a telescope on which a vulture is perched, looking at him.
On Saturday afternoon, the artwork was largely covered up with a plank of wood – a temporary measure designed to “protest the artist’s works” according to Calais city hall.
A Banksy work can often fetch hundreds of millions of dollars from ardent collectors.
* Associated Press, Agence France-Presse