Initially, when the news broke about Banksy’s rescue boat the ‘Louise Michel’, we thought “ooh here’s a great art related story we can write about”.
But whilst watching BBC news talk about it, it occurred to us the story isn’t about Banksy and his new boat. It’s about how insane it is that, as human beings, we are doing very little to help these fellow humans escape the terror they are trying to flee.
Banksy’s rescue boat is making a real difference
We think what Banksy has done is amazing. As an artist, he has always expressed his frustration through powerful messages. But now he’s taken his frustration (and his vast wealth) and made a real difference.
We aren’t going to go into the facts about the boat, you can read on a variety of news sites like the Guardian, BBC and Independent websites all about the Louise Michel. What we want to write about today is the absurdity of it all.
According to an article on the BBC website titled ‘Migration to Europe explained in seven charts’, the situation was deemed a crisis in 2015 when more than a million people made the decision to flee their homes in the hope for a better and safer life.
It goes on to explain which countries they flee to, how they got there, where they came from etc, and sadly the number of deaths that occurred during the migration.
And according to a Wikipedia page, the European Commission declared the crisis over in March 2019.
The problem has never gone away
But since then we are still seeing harrowing news footage of dangerously overcrowded boats. We’re still seeing footage of them capsizing, with bodies and lifebuoys washing up on the shore.
Only this morning, the news showed Banksy’s rescue boat with over 200 people aboard… and nowhere to go.
And that’s the problem. It feels as though countries are turning their backs, hoping another country will step in and help.
As a result of Banksy’s rescue boat drawing new and quite frankly needed attention, the UN has now stated they are looking into the problem, but why did it need Banksy for this to happen?
The problem hadn’t ever gone away. Yes the numbers might not be deemed ‘news worthy’ any more but there are still people risking their lives every single day.
There’s a ‘not my problem’ attitude, which to a certain a degree, we think we are all guilty of. It’s the easy option. But just imagine if your country was suddenly thrown into war, wouldn’t you like to think that other countries would reach out and help in any way they could?
Banksy isn’t the only artist trying to help
Although this is the first time Banksy has done something as significant as this, he has used his platform before to draw awareness to the issue.
At the Venice Bienniale, a stenciled figure appeared of a child holding a lit flare. He has also added lifebuoys to seascape paintings to highlight the migrant issue and at his pop up shop ‘Gross Domestic Product’, in Croydon, he had welcome mats for sale made from the same material used to make life jackets woven into it.
Other artists such as Ai Wei Wei have also created installations about the migrant crisis in the hope people not only sit up and take notice, but more importantly do something about it.
It could easily be us one day
As we said towards the start, the Banksy funded rescue boat is fantastic and we hope it continues to help those less fortunate than ourselves, but the world’s politicians need to step in and do their part. They need to start acting like humane people and do what’s right.
None of us knows what the future holds and one day any of us could find ourselves on the other side of this tragic story.