You are welcome in Palestine, Bethlehem City The Holy Land, the place where Jesus was born This is my name, Walid The Beast Did you hear about my story when I cut the Banksy painting?
Among this destruction you see these paintings Shadows, they have meaning They don't say anything in terms of text you have to figure it out and this takes some people's mind
No, I didn't see him when he painted this picture I didn't see him, really, I don't know this man
The team was about 6 or 7 people They changed their profiles he changed his face sometimes in a mask sometimes with a moustache sometimes with a beard, sometimes...
He's a revolutionary he's the ghost
He's like a legend for the whole world now
They made an exhibition called "Santa's Ghetto" in Bethlehem
Actually I like the towers because I see them everywhere when I travel in the West Bank but it's the first time that I see them in a colorful way I hope that the Israeli army is influenced by this
Internationals started to come not the Nativity Church not to the refugee camps but to the Banksy exhibition
When Banksy came to the city for two weeks and painted some pictures it meant a lot for Palestinians and Palestinians are happy It shows the world how we are oppressed inside this area and we can't go outside, we can't move Seven years ago, at this time the city was full of people You could see the streets were full of tourists from all over the world they were coming on pilgrimage to Bethlehem Now we are in the time of Christmas it's about 8 days to Christmas but you can see, there's no people in the city You can talk to the people from here and ask them what they are feeling about Christmas and about the situation in this area You can feel that... everything is not correct in this area
Do you need any help?
Yes, what do you want?
Oh my God What's this Banksy?
He's now very very famous I was the first to meet him in Manger square, over there My name is Walid Is this your stall?
Is this your stall here?
No, I am a taxi driver I'm helping my friend I help him, he's poor I help him here, he sells bananas So what do you think about all the graffiti?
Is this good?
The artist who made these things?
Yes, who's this one?
This one is a friend of mine his name is Nash, he's from Chicago he's a very famous artist I helped him, I brought the ladder for him and he wrote my name over there because I helped him Is that you, Walid?
Yes, Walid The Beast
Every year there's something new some artist coming, some...
and they speak, speak...
But I think there will be no change because this wall is forever and nobody can touch it I am a taxi driver, this is my taxi
I hope Banksy will give me money to buy a new one because everyday I have to go to the garage
When I met you at the checkpoint and I said to you This is my name, Walid The Beast Have you known about me for a long time, or...
No, but it's like we've known you for a long time Did you hear about my story when I cut the Banksy painting?
I will tell you about this bad story
On the main road of Bethlehem he painted "The Donkey with the Soldier" and the soldier carries the ID of the donkey
The painting was... very ugly for the people This motherfucker from London A lot of people wanted to destroy this painting But we covered this piece and we cut it It was very difficult to bring machines to take it from the wall On the left you see the mural This way Banksy was angry about this story but to come to a house in Bethlehem and to start to paint and after we cut it or destroy it you're not allowed to say anything
And you are welcome
When he painted he was like a ninja nobody knew him
The wall is very good good concrete What we are doing now is a steel frame to reinforce the concrete so that when we move it out it will be one piece The boss who is the owner of this piece he's the boss, I am one of his people he said we want to keep this piece and we want to sell it at our price
I was astonished that you are going to carry four tons of concrete out of Bethlehem abroad Until now I don't know the idea behind it but... this is something, I mean... That's crazy
Four tons out of Bethlehem in a concrete slab What for?
Couldn't he draw this anywhere else on a piece of wood or a carpet or whatever?
About the piece... we want to sell it Until then it's with us in Bethlehem in a safe place
They say: "Palestinians are bad"
"they want to buy weapons"
"they want to fight Israel"
No This is not at all true
The boss who is the owner of this piece he wants to support the church he wants to give money to all the people who helped him to cut this piece and he spent money for this piece of "The Donkey with the Soldier"
This is my fuel
This is the best the king of body building he's the king eleven times Mr. Olympia He pushed 1250 kg machine legs
He's very old now
I was very thin I was only 65 kg Now I am 135 kg It's a big change And I like... I like to change myself If you want to feel full power you have to think of something very bad
Once, I remember I was in a competition and I saw all the people
I had a lot of people pushing me I looked around and I said to myself
"If I don't do this, the Israeli soldiers will kill us all"
Like I had to save these people from this bad thing and I did it I carried 235 kg and I won
Wait, wait, wait my friend
Well, I am a merchant in Bethlehem A businessman you can say, also I really did not like the painting Why?
I saw a donkey and I saw an Israeli soldier checking this donkey's Palestinian ID And it's like he's calling us "donkeys"
This year I put it on eBay If you'd like to buy this wall we are ready to sell it to you
If you know ABC about this country you know people would be offended by this Have you considered it?
Have you been critically assessing what's the discourse in this place in relation to the people to the context to the history of this place?
Or it's like most of the things around the place it's like a fast food approach to graffiti a fast food approach to art it's quick it makes you feel bad afterwards but at that time it's very fulfilling
It gets all your senses saturated and then you leave In the Palestinian culture if you tell someone: "You are a donkey" it has negative implications Although the donkey is a great animal The donkey is a hard working animal You will never be cheated by a donkey or betrayed by a donkey In this case, I wouldn't really worry I know maybe older people would take it seriously but I think the younger generation is taking over anyway
The first time?
That's a hard question, man The first time I did graffiti we decided to make a piece to protest the visit of Obama so we made a French kiss between Abu Mazen and Obama and we covered the entire city We had the stencil and every ten metres we sprayed We were like: "Why don't we do this all the time?"
The first time I learned it was illegal to make graffiti I said: "What?"
Here, when we do something all the neighborhood want you to make more so you do it and run not because it's illegal you run because you can't do one hundred
It started during the first Intifada there was a political movement and people needed to get in contact with the locals to have like one... one voice During the first Intifada Palestinians didn't have any control over the media So how did they distribute their political ideas?
It was through the walls You just come and write the message and... and disappear Our way of painting we are not professional painters, we use like simple materials but the medium is the message for us If the soldiers check your house and they find spray this is a crime they could put you in jail for this The Israeli army used to actually stop young people on the street and ask them to erase the sentences written on the wall They knock on the door
"Come and remove this"
"Remove what's written"
If you are living in a conflict zone everything can be used as a weapon It's not killing but it raises awareness it sends a message It's part of the struggle part of the fight to speak on behalf of people that can't speak The Arab Spring in general really influenced me because it was for the Arab world it was something new and it was mostly triggered by graffiti and street art and social media and all that stuff It really made me realize how easy it can be to reach people it's straightforward you paint on the wall that people pass by most frequently that's it they see it, they have to see it
The works of Western artists worldwide have always had a bigger impact than the works of artists from Algeria, Palestine, South Africa If one thinks of 40 plus years ago, for instance the War in Vietnam we know more about it from American artists than we do from Vietnamese artists And that's because they are part of an international market I am not just talking in economic terms I am not just talking about the art market per Se I am talking about a symbolic market which is strongly asymmetric and where a Western voice will always count more than a non-Western voice
Mostly, Banksy's art it's not about influencing the artists here it's more about putting this place in the spotlight It could make more difference if he painted on the other side of the wall We know what's happening here Paint on the Israeli side
I don't think it makes less sense if you want to sell something You have a house and you want to sell it It's your house, you can sell it The artist knows that when he's done with the painting it's not his painting anymore They sell it for a few hundred dollars and that guy buys it and sells it for
100,000 dollars, 200,000 dollars they just make money out of it They just take advantage of somebody who's... who doesn't really know who Banksy is who doesn't really know the value of... of the piece that he owns
"The Donkey with the Soldier"
Banksy made it on a private wall in Manger Street and that's... that's very big Someone I don't know from Europe or the United States came here when he saw that graffiti he said to the owner of the building of that wall
"I want to buy it" and he brought a big sawing machine and cut it and shipped it
I don't know where that is now in a museum in the United States or in Europe, I don't know but that's when... it was sold and shipped
If you were in Jerusalem, it's not safe for all, for all for Arabic people, Jewish people, for all Many, many soldiers Here, it changed it's safer here nobody's angry, nobody... the problems are only where the border is
Peter approached me in the Summer about this Banksy piece
To find a street work that was done in Palestine it's kind of unique
An artwork if it's by Banksy or somebody else has a value and maybe the owner thinks... the value is... too big for them to keep We were in a position to buy it and we bought it and I think in the long run, most of the... a lot of street pieces, they disappear after a few years
they are no longer with us
Banksy is gone mate He's gone, sorry boys I got one, I got a smaller one
We are talking about art, so we can't just focus on the ethical point of view Some artworks will survive the streets even though they don't get stolen We tend to defend the artist's will, choices, context and message We obviously need to respect that however when you move an artwork from its original context that artwork won't stop talking to you In a way we underestimate the power of art but art is still talking to us, even removed from its original context It is not art becoming mute, it is us becoming deaf not understanding what an artwork is telling us once it's removed from its context
Let's get back, guys
It's not only a painting on a wall it's a painting that reflects our core cause our core message our core existence And to be honest with you when one of his pieces was cut and brought out of Bethlehem we considered as a Municipal Council they cut a very important image that relates to the Palestinian cause so you are cutting the cause That was really unacceptable for us
Banksy came from nowhere Is he the Robin Hood of today?
For me Banksy is... a philosopher that we need to infer from his graffiti and whatever message he is sending to bring about a better world
Who reads the graffiti he reads the world Who reads the graffiti he reads the pain Who reads the graffiti he reads the suffering of others
Are you documenting everything?
Are you documenting everything?
I am going to arrest him
I am Superintendent of the Bethlehem Police Department As for the paintings by the artist named Banksy There's very little information about him We often patrol the province and the city The patrol officers know where these graffiti are and if we notice somebody trying to damage them we are ready to deal with the case The local police knows the value of these paintings and what they represent It is our duty to preserve them and protect them and God willing we will be able to do so
What these paintings represent what Banksy is trying to tell the whole world through his art is that Palestinian people deserve to live just like any other people in the world
My message to Banksy?
Keep on Keep on going
Thank you for everything
You were able to express us Palestinians as nobody else managed to Thank you
That's my shop...
Before... before the wall, this was a grocery not Banksy but the world was very nice before the wall The Palestinian people and the Israeli people worked together no walls, no checkpoints everything was open between us and them and no problem But when they finished the wall many stores closed because there was no business any more, no work I put a chair in front of my shop and I thought to myself: "What shall I do?"
I saw many tourists looking for Banksy's graffiti They asked me
"Where's Banksy's graffiti?"
And the tourists when they ask me they like my shop
He's not here he's on the main road This way, down Maikel Canawati?
There's a restaurant there Mike?
Just straight Straight Half km
That's the thing, I saw a guy with a hat spraying on the wall
One reporter came to me and he asked me about it He asked me
"What do you think about Banksy's work to help the Palestinian people?"
If Banksy wants to do good let's sell this painting and do something good in Bethlehem
I come from a Greek Orthodox family
I go to this church in Beit Jala Saint Nicholas Church we pray there...
When this thing happened I saw the furniture was too old it needed to be, you know... renewed
I said to myself...
If we manage to sell this painting I will contribute all the money to refurbish the church completely
It's not personal...
I don't know why he makes it personal with me
He came to Palestine on a mission to help the Palestinian people He's welcome to help them Let him send me a few more paintings send me some more paintings and...
I will sell them and we can help the Palestinian refugee camps the Palestinian sick people That's my message to him if he wants to help But if he wants to do business then we are ready to cut all of his pieces and do business as well
God's gifts are shared among all men, each according to their potential so there are men who resist using weapons others using their tongue while others use creativity
We carry an olive branch in one hand and a gun in the other we hold the brush in our hands as well as the bullet and we don't give up
We start from the end and we go backwards Canawati...
He's a man we know as a member of the Christian community He's a rich man I am in favour of shipping around the world these images and sculptures on our walls so that everybody can see that this is the soldier and this is the donkey and what the Palestinian question has come to Lately there was another piece that I wanted to cut but when I started to cut this piece the whole country wanted to save this piece They stopped us from cutting that wall They considered it as...
Palestinian art or something like this I don't see it as a historical painting or something from the culture of the Palestinian people So if you have buyers for me to buy all the paintings I will try to cut them and I will sell them and I will do something good for the people here instead
It was my idea to cut this painting because a friend of mine said that we would get a lot of money
But the problem is that we didn't get any money from this painting
This wall is very bad and even when somebody comes, like Banksy to paint on this wall he cannot change anything the wall will stay and the painting doesn't change anything for the wall This is our land this is our dream, to be free without this fucking wall First of all I say to Banksy you are not very famous in Palestine don't come and paint on this wall and say this is good for Palestinians good for Americans, good for anybody No Support the poor people, that's enough
Fuck you Banksy Goodbye
This is art done in secret for the public It's art where it's not supposed to be I can't read shit, even with glasses It's art a secret and...
on serious subjects put where anyone can see It's art that's extremely beautiful to show how good things could be Jenny Holzer
The first Keith Haring drawings to appear on the subway were white chalk on black cardboard that nobody had used before
At first I would just take pictures then one day, on Broadway and Lafayette I saw these subway workers ripping them off the walls...
They just dumped them there, ready for the trash so I thought to myself: "Taking pictures is not enough"
They looked at me as if I were a Martian why is he taking these pieces of cardboard out of the trash?
I would spray them in order to fix the chalk in the drawing I had this spray bottle with water and I would use it on the cardboard and left them there overnight The morning after I would come back and between humidity and water the starch give had evaporated so I would cut off a small triangle and slowly peel them off
I am Philipp Teuchtler Every time you have to be the first to enjoy the art This is always worthy for me I would like to have something later If somebody wants to cut out a Banksy now or a piece by anyone, by Obey they should have opened their eyes before
Funny of wild, one or both is good Intelligent also counts sometimes But beautiful is, for me, one of the most boring things Beautiful artwork...
When I want to see something beautiful I go to the park, see nature You have these two different things You have guys who go to the gallery and buy all these things This is the classical thing And then you have these things that are from the streets and those you can't buy so maybe you have to find another way to get them Also, why you steal?
Maybe it's not good to say it in an interview, is it?
Maybe we should cut everything out Stealing sounds very criminal but maybe that is also the nice thing that I like about street art the criminal point of view The people making graffiti were mainly Hispanics or Blacks from Harlem coming to neighborhoods with galleries and museums, like Soho They were mostly considered outlaws and actually quite a few were arrested by the police
Maybe we can get a few ideas of what the end of street art is going to look like
But let's see here... when you...
I mean, it doesn't look bad Classic, nice But you have no text anymore it's so proper that people don't touch
I can't say nice anymore Here it's so classic...
It's getting worse, it's getting worse This place used to be quite wild, you know you had, like, these people tagging busted by the police It was a moving space now there's commissioned work here Each one has their exact spot Don't cross it, you know You have this wall, you have this wall, you have this wall Then you have people, like, some rich people who come and invite people to paint you know, maybe a fake Banksy because it's so cool and so nice But with money you can't buy taste as you see on this wall and then people come and tell me how great street art is and how fresh everything is This has nothing to do with freshness People don't even think...
I mean This is a work I would never put in my toilet, you know I mean, look how fresh this wall looks I mean, this is still, you know...
You need to have a taste for revolution On my Facebook page where they ask you about your school I wrote: “Institute of Disobedience”
because you just cannot obey if you obey you become nothing but an artisan
What do you see in this picture?
It means we don't care if it's flowers or stones we're going to fight with anything This is what I think He does't have stones, he finds flowers he throws the flowers I think it will be gone in two years because of the sun, the weather There is a carwash in this area a dirty place as you can see Look over there the colour is starting to come out
But we have it in magazines we have pictures on the Internet Everything is saved You can find everything on the Internet
There are not better or worse ways of collecting There are no beautiful or ugly graffiti It's something that started from the very beginning as a lifestyle for teenagers who didn't even expect it to come to this Today it's crazy, it's madness
We've got to respect the will of the artist The artist wanted to paint on this door?
He wanted his artwork to stay on this door We cannot change it, we cannot take it off without his permission put it into a museum and show it and say: "okay, now we've got the door"
The guy painted it on the door, and he wanted the door to be there If he'd wanted to paint it on a canvas for a museum he'd have painted it on a canvas for a museum Personally, if I was painting on this door, and you came and told me Hey, we really like this door and it's really important for our culture, for our history for the preservation of graffiti We want to keep it in a museum In that case I would say: "With pleasure, take my door"
I would be pleased that you respect my artwork that you want my artwork to be in a museum For me it would be a pleasure But if you didn't ask me, surely, as a rather aggressive person I would take action Somebody in Bologna, for example, took action There was action and a reaction And in this kind of situation, especially in a public situation people do take advantage they use politics, they involve political organizations they put out statements, and it's a clash of titans it's never ending It's as you like, you're free to collect us as you like and if you don't like graffiti and street art, don't collect at all
I had already peeled off pieces from the street wall pieces of no real value I even took some in Iran, in abandoned houses and I still have some of those with me I am talking about the 70s here so imagine how long we've been thinking about saving drawings
that are disappearing
The first we saved was this young dude playing football We took its surface and a minuscule brick layer that came with it
The owner of the wall didn't want this drawing, maybe he even complained because this vandal ruined it with his painting Except for us this so called vandal has remarkable pictorial qualities Generally people demonize street art as they do all the tags in Bologna mixing up these drawings with the tags around the city which have nothing to do with it They were both made with a marker, but that's about it The marker is not the artist the matter is not the artist it is the matter of art that's artistic So we started to figure out ways to save this stuff Borondo, yes This one?
Well, this is just an attribution There is no official document stating this is a Borondo It's not like, you know, Giotto In traditional art you have provenance, here you have style which you can't miss anyway See these crosses... look at this cross here That one, that one, this one, these signs are exactly the same you find over there just the same over there See those crosses there?
See those signs? They are identical It's like when you're doodling while you're on the phone These signs are your signs I cannot imitate your doodles, and neither can Marco Nobody can because when you're doodling you're not thinking that's your style That cross, those dots sure, anybody can do the same but not in such a systematic, tidy and continuous way So that's a sign, a style a style we consider pictorial It is the style of an artist, as if they went to school to learn it as if they had an academic background The controversy behind the Banksy pieces taken off walls worldwide is just the same as 200/250 years ago Even in the 19th century some intellectuals spoke out against this commercially driven approach But if it weren't for people collecting these drawings we would have probably lost them forever
I have only recently realised we are talking about a real art form here often really high art and anyway something we can't do without for the future
It is all very simple these walls belonged to private citizens so if someone goes and paints on someone else's wall they don't automatically give away the paternity of the art work but they give away the possession and the material property of the piece
Blu doesn't want his art to be mixed with what he probably considers shit but he doesn't understand we are not exploiting his art His drawings are not for sale I could post this amazing Blu on eBay and I would find a buyer in no time, trust me
90% of the people doing this kind of thing are only in it for the money gallerists doubling the original price of a piece that's the way of the world Our goal instead is to recognize the real value of this kind of art so that it can be preserved in its original location where it was meant to be Nobody can do what they want and decide to play by their own rules Nobody
Let's make sure everything is back the way it was Let's clean everything up Everything the way it was
What most people didn't get in the Bologna exhibition is that we only focused on a particular story while actually it's a wider issue and it has to do with our memory Isaac Asimov described a world where people stop remembering because all their memories are stored in machines Today we believe, almost ideologically that we can content ourselves with the present while forgetting about the past because we have computers But if you know the history of the Internet and street art you also know that what happened in the early 2000s has already disappeared A Facebook post stating that street art is ephemeral and it's useless to preserve stuff, that's very easy to do but I won't take the responsibility of saying that objects are useless all you need is the Internet and a digital camera The way I see it, at this point a colonial logic is somehow inevitable in the Western world but except for Israel, conquering and colonizing a land in this day and age is a completely different matter So new forms of colonization are deployed all over the world finally showing that capitalism can't do without colonization so this colonization can be intangible but it can also be tangible as if we kept conquering new territories which will produce new images, new objects so that we can extend our field because we cannot keep selling the same merchandise otherwise we might lose customers, if we don't differentiate our offer and this offer can also include Palestinian political art, why not?
When they opened that hotel he invited all the press from all over the world and they came TV channels from all over the world from Japan, from all of Europe from the United States, Canada and I saw that with my eyes You came before and you know about my shop it is small and sells little pictures and T-shirts But, because he's my friend he told me: "Change your shop for the better"
"with many new and expensive things"
"because many tourists, many VIPs"
"will come here and will want to buy gifts"
And I changed my shop and you see it's better than before They come here to see his graffiti from all the countries that's amazing
So Banksy, how is it going?
We are saying hello at least answer You entered against the traffic please let the cars get inside
okay, let him go back a bit I think this is a stupid work because this wall is not a good place it's not good for visitors to come it's a shameful place, my friend And he can't change anything
This is our flag, you see?
Our flag is in the United Nations now
My father, my family, my parents all of them are Palestinian We are originally Palestinian I was born in Bethlehem I started to drive a taxi in 1998 And who broke our business and our hope?
The wall It was built in 2000 When they started building the wall they closed off the area
You see the wall and you go back You stop, because the wall stops you not the soldiers, the wall Closed, finished When they started to bring the bulldozers and trucks and machines to cut the olive trees and clear the area nobody knew what would happen and we asked some policemen and some security
"What's going on?"
And they said, I remember, I will never forget this They said
"Someday you will hope to see the air on this side"
In one year, everything was finished
I was with my friends, we are all taxi drivers I told them: "Do you remember when the security told us"
"Someday you will not see the air over there"?
This is the day and it was true They built the wall they changed all the area Nothing No Jerusalem You don't even see what's behind the wall Only one gate for thousands of people
It's a big change
It's very sad
I believe in freedom Someday this wall will come down, like Berlin The same History will repeat itself