What does commemoration mean to you? A Facebook status on the day, a like or a share of somebody else’s, a lengthy debate, a minute of silence? For Banksy, a British street artist, whose real identity remains carefully under wraps, it means readapting his famous 2002 stencil image of a little girl with a red balloon, in the context of the massacre in Syria to commemorate its 3rd anniversary. In a powerful 1:45 video, he portrays a little girl with a red balloon that is pulling her in the air. From her vantage point, she can see the destruction of the country and gradually her happy face undergoes a transformation, understandably bringing a tear to her eyes. A little boy and many others gradually join her, all being pulled by their own red balloon. They symbolise the hundreds of thousands of victims who have lost their lives since the massacre in Syria began.
This image was projected on the Eiffel Tower as well as Trafalgar Square in London on the 13th of March to raise awareness. In line with his typically unique manner of defending causes, last year, Banksy posted a video whereby radicals are firing a rocket to an object in the sky, which when falls to earth, is seen to be Dumbo, the elephant, which can be subject to numerous interpretations: the death of childhood, the end of innocence. Banksy’s subversive type of art is proof that militating for causes is not limited; it is free and can be expressed in the quietest yet powerful way.
The defence of causes, or the awareness to a cause does not need to take the shape of a lengthy speech or a 3-day conference. Videos posted on Facebook are testimonials to that. In commemoration of the Syrian massacre, Save the Children posted a 1:34 video of how the life of a British little girl changes over a year due to war with a rip-you-out-of-your-cosy-world tagline: “Just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening”. To highlight domestic abuse, where victims can be both men and women, a short video recounts domestic fights, with the man revealed as the victim in the end.
Time is of the essence, there is no time to waste to act upon important issues, and these ways of raising awareness do just that. Leave the desk, the computer, the tablet, and the smartphone, get out of your comfort areas and see what you can do. We are all in this world together, let’s be there for each other in whatever way we can.