EU immigration and border politics have been subject to criticism for years¹ – particularly regarding the increasingly militarized securitization of its external frontier. In recent weeks the rapid influx of refugees – mainly from war-torn Syria, Irak, and Afghanistan – and the EU’s failure to provide an adequate and humane response have dramatically highlighted the consequences of this development².
Major solidarity movements and civic activism have helped compensate for the passivity of most European governments. At the same time anonymous activists as well as prominent artists have been voicing criticism and solidarity with the refugees via street art and graffiti on walls all over Europe.
Many of the political slogans that are used to express solidarity today have been around for years, often framed in social movement contexts. As graffiti, stickers, and murals they continue to circulate in urban space.
“Refugees welcome – Bring your families” has become one of the most wide-spread solidarity slogans | Photo via black-mosquito.tumblr.com/
Here, the slogan resurfaces in a Blockupy pasteup in Frankfurt | Photo via streetartfrankfurt.de/
“No border, no nation” sticker in Hamburg | Photo via @skarfield
“Kein Mensch ist illegal/No human being is illegal” mural on a facade in Hamburg | Photo via bildarchiv-hamburg.de/
“Migration is not a crime” stencil by Mapet in Athens | Photo via aestheticsofcrisis.org
“We are all immigrants” artwork by JNOR and NDA in Athens | Photo via aestheticsofcrisis.org
A train in Dresden carries the words “Welcome” in Arabic – perhaps the most spectacular graffiti action of the past weeks, especially considering the controversy revolving around racist attacks on refugees in the city | Photo via linksunten.indymedia.org
Street Art and Murals
From Banksy to Blu, many European street artists pursue decidedly political projects. It is thus not surprising that so many of them have commented on the EU border regime and the refugee crisis.
This artwork by Italian Muralist Blu, painted in Morocco in 2012, is one of the most iconic representations of the EU border regime…
Razorwire vs. people | Photos via blublu.org
German artist duo Herakut have been actively working with refugees for years. Just last year they painted at the world’s second largest refugee camp in Jordan (http://www.streetartnews.net/2014/02/herakut-new-street-pieces-zaatari-jordan.html). This artwork in Munich asks “If we refuse refuge to those who seek it – what kind of people are we? | Photo via munich-z.com/
Artist JR created an artwork showing the eyes of a Kenyan woman on shipping containers. The boat that has been cruising the Mediterranean has reportedly helped save some refugees’ lives | Photo via wsj.com
In his recent project “Dismaland – Bemusement Park” British artist Banksy reportedly devised a game in which visitors could navigate overcrowded refugee boats | Photo via wsj.com
Another image that was attributed to Banksy shows floating bodies forming the European flag | Photo via facebook.com/banksy (unofficial)
“European programme for migration” artwork by Italian artist Massimo Mion | Photo via massimomion.com
“I’m going for a good wave – I am fleeing for a better life” stencil by unknown artist at the port of Tarifa in Spain | Photo by Luca Gefäller, via themigrationist.net/
The photograph of drowned 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed ashore on a beach in Turkey has become the epitome of the present crisis. An artist in Sorocaba, Brazil transformed the image into a mural, adorned with the words “abandonados/abandoned” and “paz/peace” | Photo via gettyimages.de