On a Mission Within Earshot of a War, Armed With Paint – NYTimes.com

On a Mission Within Earshot of a War, Armed With Paint - NYTimes.com

The Banksy of Golan, a Brooklyn born artist name Coll works at the Syria-Israel border:

“When you’re working in an area that everything’s broken, you’ve got to learn to go around things to make things happen,” added Col, who would not reveal his real name because, as he put it, there are “too many legal things to watch out for.”

Col (pronounced Kole), who is 36 and lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, was one of more than a dozen international street painters who spent several days recently leaving their unlikely marks here on the edge of the 1.8-mile-wide demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria.

via On a Mission Within Earshot of a War, Armed With Paint – NYTimes.com.


10 thoughts on “On a Mission Within Earshot of a War, Armed With Paint – NYTimes.com”

  1. To me this seems like more of a publicity stunt for the artists than an attempt to better the world in any way. They can claim that they are trying to brighten up a war torn area, but from what I understand, most people don’t really go to this place, as it’s so close to the fighting. It seems to me like an irresponsible stunt pulled by some adrenaline junkie artists. Illegally spray painting buildings in the US wasn’t thrilling enough, they had to go to war torn areas to do it. And we encourage this. Sad.

  2. While a nice sentiment, I feel as though hoping to “fight war with art” is too lofty and unrealistic. If their main idea is to draw attention to the issue, I’d say that the Arab-Israeli conflict is already always in international spotlight. The article was good on its own to inform/remind readers of facts, but any graffiti was really more for self gratification.
    I’m glad, though, that there is at least the goal of honoring, and not obscuring the history of war seen on the buildings as the artists tried to paint as if behind, rather than over the bullets. I actually enjoy graffiti done by skilled artists, and hope the group can find a way to more constructively and pointedly make a difference.

  3. I disagree with the comments above. I was in Israel this past summer and had the opportunity to see one of Banksy’s works of graffiti on the dividing wall in Jerusalem, which separates many of the Palestinian communities from the Jewish. Whereas I had never really heard of him before, I must say that standing there and seeing his massive painting skillfully sprayed on the wall was powerful. Just as powerful as many other graffiti messages that people spray painted on the wall about freedom, and borders, and hope, and justice. These messages are all in English, clearly demonstrating that the people behind them know their audience—they know that the wall is a common site for tourists, and they want to have their message heard. I think we can say the same about Banksy and these other artists; I think they just want their message to be heard. Many of the places where they paint are actually often visited by tourists, even the old abandoned war sites. And perhaps art is not the MOST effective method of fighting against war, but I think that it is a beautiful thing that people use whatever talents and resources that they have to further the cause of peace and diplomacy. Also, even though these guys are pro-Israeli, it doesn’t seem to me that their messages are derogatory of Arabs in any way, as far as I understood the reading. I appreciate that even those who believe in or have political leanings towards a specific side can promote equality.

  4. I think graffiti is a fantastic expression of the sentiments prevalent in the Israel/Palestine conflict. I liked that there were messages painted in both Hebrew and Arabic, and English. I appreciate the efforts put forth by the NY artists, but I can see the validity of the statement that it was a bit of a publicity stunt. However, I believe that art can distract from even the worst situation, and if their work gives someone hope or peace, I have no issue with it.

  5. I have to disagree with the first two comments. Sure, graffiti is illegal, but as it says in the article, “If it’s a no man’s land for everyone else, then we might as well claim it for art”. Graffiti is as valid an art form as sculpting, music, or oil painting. As for the thought that the graffiti was only for “self-gratification” and a “publicity stunt”, isn’t that what most art is all about? People create art and put their name on it in order to gain fame or prestige as an artist. Furthermore, throughout history artists have used their art as a way to convey their thoughts and feelings about current political issues. Beethoven did it. Picasso did it. The Beatles did it. Just because the medium is different or deemed illegal, it does not lessen the legitimacy of the art. I see the graffiti art as just another way for people to express their views about the issue as well as connect with the conflict.

    1. I agree with Ryan and Megs, the art they display in the no-man’s land is putting something interesting, vibrant and new in old, broken places. If I had a choice between graffiti marking territory for inner city gangs or graffiti giving attention to history in a war zone, I would choose the war zone option. People have different passions in life and I feel happy knowing they are using their passion for a purpose.

  6. While art might not be able to stop a war or alleviate conflict, I have to agree with Meg in her sentiment about how art can [positively] distract from a terrible situation. It could just be a publicity stunt for these artists, it could be something more, but regardless, the art itself speaks to situation and brings a new perspective and view to the surroundings. They are bringing art to a torn up place and art always has had a way of inspiring those who view it.

  7. I think that the artists sentiment was to create something beautiful in an ugly place. This area is being destroyed because of conflict and I think that many would like to see peace and resolution come from this situation. The artists are telling their audiences to have hope.

  8. I agree that graffiti, though commonly frowned upon, can do a lot of good in our world. The first time I traveled to Europe, I was struck by the amount of painting covering almost any available surface on any building of any neighborhood. At first, the graffiti suggested to me that there was a problem with crime or poverty in the area, but why should it have done that? The negative connotations of graffiti only exist as a result of the labels we have fixed to the otherwise unassuming art form.

    Leaving artistic marks on the face of a demilitarized zone is a powerful expression of humanity in an otherwise bleak reminder of secular hostility. I think this is a good thing these artists are doing, and I admire the courage and resolve they display in carrying out their activities.

  9. I love street art and I appreciate what these artists are doing. However, I don’t know that they’re really making any sort of lasting, helpful change. Yes, they might be bringing attention to the issue…but this is the middle east…most everyone in the world is already aware of it. I like that they are trying to bring beauty to a war-torn area…but wouldn’t the people affected by the conflict rather have food and supplies bought by the funds that the artists used to travel to Israel?

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