IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE YEAR 2007 ANNO DOMINI IN THE TOWN WHERE OUR LORD (Depending on who you are) JESUS CHRIST WAS BORN AS A MORTAL MAN (Depending on what you believe.) A SEMI-ANONYMOUS STREET ARTIST AND HIS MATES LO DID COME AND BRING WITH THEM PICTURES WHAT THEY HAD MADE TO SELL FOR A CAUSE IN A LITTLE SHOP KNOWN AS A GALLERY AND ALSO TO PAINT ON A WALL WHICH IS PROBABLY ILLEGAL BUT IT DOESNT LOOK VERY NICE ANYWAY BECAUSE IT IS A MILITARY WALL SET THERE BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL FOR REASONS WE ARE SIMPLY TOO LAZY TO GO IN TO HERE, BUT ULTIMATELY BECAUSE THEY ARE HAVING AN EXTENDED ARGUMENT KNOWN AS A WAR WITH PALESTINE WHICH LOOKS TO THE PASSING MONKEY MORE LIKE AN OCCUPATION BUT WHAT THE sod DO WE KNOW? WELL I MAY NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT ART
Eyes glaze over rapidly. The truth is that we are always forgetting that other people, beyond our tribal boundaries, are actually as real as we are. No amount of beard stroking or political debate can make us empathise with the strange aliens that throng the world beyond. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of other realities than our own, but if we are ten percent angel we are ninety percent monkey. If we accept this then at least we are working at ground zero. This is the perspective that gets you into situations like spray painting a military patrolled security wall in Palestine. The monkey idiot with a glimmer of consciousness goes where the wise man cannot.
One muses upon charitable actions and sees only images of Bob Geldof and Terry Wogan. One slips into a milieu of images of earnest telethons featuring Gyles Brandreth in a knitted tank-top. All engagement with the great and noble problems of our time require one only to phone in with a credit card number. As if we could fit in solving the questions of poverty and oppression between two shifts at the office and a trip to Ikea! How unutterably fucking dull! Where is the engagement? Where is real life? Even a small adventure of some kind is better than this. Any intervention in the world around you is worth more than a disengaged and passive act of charity.
Here Lie Dragons
Maybe the strongest thing about Santas Ghetto is simply that it was in Bethlehem. It is as if our map of the world still features Here be Dragons scrawled over places like Gaza. A bunch of skinny artists go over and the bubble is burst. They have spray-painted Didnt see any Dragons. Theres a great big bloody wall mind over the top.
The nativity scene is built all over the world every year with all manner of variations. Some feature a fat man from a cola advert sitting in a sleigh on the roof. Some feature a small boy having a poo in the corner of the stable. Many of them feature a chubby pink Caucasian baby born in the middle-east 2000 years ago and most likely fated to a life of terrible sun-burn. And people think art is obscure?
The communal dream of Bethlehem is more real than the little town that really exists. We need to poke something with a stick these days to see if it is real or not. Street Art is as good a way as any to bite a coin to see if it is made of gold. Coins are generally not made of gold anymore.
. . . a wall is not just a wall, it is somebody elses opinion and you do not have to accept it.
Here Be Dragons. Santas Ghetto, Bethlehem
Director: Roland Bodenham. Producer: Daniel Croucher. Editor: Liam Shove. Sound: Wayne James. Camera: Ian Jackson.
Written by: Patrick Potter. Music: Ambient Infinite by Graeme Robinson. Narration: Phil Swinburne.
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