This week, I read a very different sort of street art book. In fact, I’m not sure it should be considered a “street art book.” Against The Wall by William Parry is a book about the separation walls in being built by Israel. In the street art world, the wall is known for the Banksy-organized Santa’s Ghetto event in 2007 where he and a number of other street artists painted the wall, but, of course, that’s really not what the wall is famous for and there’s a reason that Santa’s Ghetto took place in Bethlehem. As Banksy has said, “The wall is illegal under international law and essentially turns Palestine into the world’s largest open prison.”
In Against The Wall, Parry has revisited the wall after all the world-famous artists have left. Parry documented not only the artwork painted by Banksy and his cohorts, but the mostly-anonymous art and political graffiti that covers much of the wall. The artwork in Against The Wall is of similar historical importance to the art on the Berlin Wall. The art may help to bring the wall down, but when that finally happens, it’s going to disappear and Parry’s photos will remain as probably the best documentation of the art so far.
But this book isn’t just about art. After all, most of the art on the wall isn’t just for the sake of art. So most of the book is actually about the wall and how it has changed the lives of the Palestinians it has been created to oppress. There are probably a dozen better books on this same topic that go into much more detail, but I doubt you can read any of those in an afternoon. Parry tells powerful personal stories and uses photos to tell the collective story of how the wall is affecting the Palestinian people, and he keeps the entire book down to under 200 pages.
If you have a heart, if you think that art can change the world or if you just want to learn more about the struggles of the Palestinian people for basic human rights and dignity, you should get a copy of this book.
Against The Wall is available from Pluto Press for much of the world. Unfortunately, the book isn’t available in the USA yet, but it should be published here by Laurence Hill Books in the spring.
I should add that while, like on most Vandalog posts, I’m allowing comments here, I’m personally not going to get involved in any political debates on this issue. Maybe that’s lazy or one-sided or whatever, but I don’t really care. Internet flame wars have never changed anyone’s mind about this sort of thing. That’s what art and books like Against The Wall are for.