You can always trust Banksy to remind us of the dystopian times we’re living in, even at Christmas. A new nativity scene designed by the artist has been revealed in Bethlehem, highlighting Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While it features the usual Mary, Joseph, and Jesus figures, the artwork’s guiding star is swapped out for what looks like a bullet hole in concrete blocks, which loom over the scene (presumably referencing the separation wall built by Israel following the 2002 Palestinian uprising).
The concrete blocks are also daubed with messages of peace and love, serving as both a bit of optimistic Christmas spirit and a reminder of the artist’s street art origins.
As is the norm for Banksy, the artwork also comes with a half-cheeky, half-poignant title: Scar of Bethlehem.
Scar of Bethlehem isn’t the first time Banksy has attempted to highlight violence in the region, though. In fact, the artwork is housed in the Walled Off Hotel on the West Bank, the artist’s own property, which opened in 2017 as a way to reflect on Britain “re-arranging the furniture” in the area “with chaotic results”.
“It is a nativity,” says Wissam Salsaa, the hotel’s manager. “Banksy has his own contribution to Christmas.”
“It is a great way to bring up the story of Bethlehem, the Christmas story, in a different way – to make people think more.”