“Kesh Malek” Graffiti on Idlib’s Walls, a Story
“Hey, egg boy! Having trouble deciding who is next? This might help!”, this epigram headed a graffiti on one of Idlib governorate’s walls, north-western Syria, depicting the Australian boy who became a social media icon for egging far-right senator, Fraser Anning, in protest against the latter’s racial statements that followed the attack on worshipers in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“Game of Thrones” is also present on Idlib’s walls, where the artist borrowed the “Iron Throne”, titling it with the following caption: “The Game of Freedom; Arab Spring is here!”
The young Sudanese woman, Alaa al-Saleh, also found her way to Idlib’s walls, nicknamed the Sudanese Kandake for voicing the slogans of the protestors.
The “Kandaka” graffiti is expressed in words as thus: “Freedom is no more a statue; it is flesh and blood,” concentrating on the role of women in the Arab Spring revolutions.
The graffiti on Idlib’s walls were inspired by the famous and anonymous street artist Banksy, which became a full-fledged project in themselves.
“Syria Banksy” Project
The reasons behind the Syrian revolution are all well-known, including poverty, unemployment and monopoly of power; however, the first spark was a word written in red on one of the walls of the southern governorate Daraa. This was the starting point.
The first phrase “It is your turn doctor!” was followed by “down with the regime”, backed by a series of simple handwritten ideas, of a long-term and deep effect.
“Graffiti” as an art was not that viral in Syria prior to the revolution, especially as a tool of art that can be used to voice an opinion.
In Idlib, today, “Graffiti” is all present with the depth of its message, the beauty of the lines and the colors, transforming every international event into a message in the face of the Syrian regime.
Farouk Nashar, the media director of Kesh Malek organization and who is running the graffiti project, told Enab Baladi that it is named “Syria Banksy” in reference to the world’s most effective street artist, whose drawings are viral due to the noble message they convey while addressing political, ethical, cultural and humanitarian issues.
Through this project, Nashar added, that the organization aims to channel the voice of the Syrian populace, manifest the values of freedom, justice and democracy that the Syrian people has been striving to realize since the outbreak of the revolution, using graffiti to turn the world’s eyes to the criminality and the violations of human rights in Syria.
“There is a famous saying in Syria: Walls are the notebooks of the lunatics. […] Yes, we are crazy about freedom, dignity and justice,” said Halim Kawa, the project’s manager.
The graffiti depicting the American journalist Marie Colvin, who came to Syria in 2012 to report the violations of human rights in the city of Homs, is the first of the artistic works under the project. On the wall dedicated to her mural, the journalist was quoted as saying: “The words on everybody’s lips here area: ‘Why have we been abandoned?’”
Form #Idlib: Your voice and camera are indeed missed!!#MarieColvin The words on everybody’s lips here are:Why have we been abandoned?Marie Colvin 1956-2012Rip#SyriaBanksy
The organization was founded late in 2011 as a revolutionary coordination office in the city of Aleppo, and gradually, it developed into a civil society organization in 2014.
According to the organization’s media director, Farouk Nashar, the organization works with Syrian men and women to trigger them to effectively participate in building the society and indulging in public affairs. It also seeks to create cultural and social spaces that focus on the Syrian national identity, political, cultural and social rights.
The organization is active in the fields of education, child protection and women empowerment inside Syria, in addition to achieving gender equality, supporting adolescents and enhancing the culture of volunteering through its centers in the northern and western rural parts of Aleppo.
Through its “Healing” program, the organization seeks to support detention survivors in Syria and form a solidarity network as to back the arbitrary detention cause, according to Nashar.
Graffiti is one of the modern rebellious arts, known as “street art” and it consists of murals or symbols illustrated on walls at public places; residential buildings, governmental blocks, train stations and similar places.
The graffiti murals created by today’s world artists resemble the ancestral symbols illustrated or engraved on caves’ insides, for it is a photographic language, such as messages and drawings that preceded the invention of writing.
Graffiti is a word derived from “Garffio”, which means itching, referring to the most ancient tools of expression. Triggered by this, street artists took over the streets and spaces with their colors and drawings, hoping that someone would come after them, seeking to know them and their lives.
Who Is Banksy?
Banksy is known for that name with which he signs the murals; however, his real name has not yet been revealed so far. According to Biography, Banksy is born in Bristol, England, around 1974.
Banksy is still anonymous despite all the efforts at recognizing him, but researchers have linked him to tow famous names, Robin Banks and Robin Gunningham.
The artist started his career with writing on walls in the early nineties with his graffiti gang “DryBreadZ Crew” in Bristol, though his is a freestyle, he at times used stencils. And the more his style and signature developed, he became known at a wider level in London.
At the heart of his graffitis lies mixing drawings with slogans, in which he demonstrates political issues, and satirically denounces wars, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed; he also criticizes the royal family and the police which always chased him considering his art an attempt at sabotage.
Banksy’s street art in the West Bank, Palestine, is one of his most controversial pieces made in 2005.
Banksy’s reputation turned his art from an attempt at sabotage to a highly admired art, affecting the prices of the pieces. This style is now being called the “Banksy Effect”. The interest in the artist grew more with the documentary called “Exit through the Gift Shop” in 2010, which was nominated for a Sundance and an Oscar.