For the last several holiday seasons, a controversial work by Banksy goes viral again. This year is no different, as the graffiti artist’s “Christmas card” is back in circulation. With this particular piece, Banksy depicts Mary and Joseph hitting the Israel Separation Barrier on the way to Bethlehem. This brings a political focus back to the holiday season, which people usually prefer to think of in terms of shopping and other trivial endeavors. Alas, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not go away with the annual arrival of Santa, and this is Banksy’s way of bringing the world back to reality.
This piece dates back to at least 2005, which saw reports of pop star Robbie Williams purchasing a nativity painting by Banksy for the whopping price of $44,000. The work was also said to depict the holy family encountering an obstacle on their way to the census. In 2002, Banksy reportedly expressed his views on the season’s spirit with a joke:
“I felt the spirit of Christmas was being lost. It was becoming increasingly uncommercialised and more and more to do with religion.”
Good ol’ Banksy, always keeping the world guessing. Earlier this month, a new Banksy work featured Steve Jobs as a Syrian refugee. That piece was no less controversial than the nativity scene, as Banksy does not shy away from expressing his beliefs through indelible murals.