Banksy’s “M.V. Louise Michel” at Sea Rescuing and Raising Awareness

The Bristol based street artist Banksy is again walking the fine line between activism and self-promotion, uncomfortable bedfellows at best.

Sponsoring a ship “M.V. Louise Michel” to rescue refugees can probably be accomplished without branding the ship with your artwork, and he’s received criticism for what could appear to some as patting himself on the back for his generosity. Conversely one could argue that placing his name and art on the ship raises the profile and plight of those who otherwise get ignored, even creating a protective immunity of sorts around them.

Banksy. “M.V. Louise Michel” (photo courtesy of M.V. Louise Michel)

His new campaign, or stunt, went perilously bad this weekend when the vessel was overloaded and its ability to navigate freely was hindered, according to news reports. What’s more the team sounding increasingly more panicked in successive Tweets appealing for official recognition and rescue.

According to The Guardian:

German charity Sea-Watch and the Italian coastguard sent vessels to a rescue boat funded by the British street artist after it issued urgent calls for assistance, saying it was stranded in the Mediterranean and overloaded with people. Hundreds of people on board the MV Louise Michel were transferred to safety on to the Sea-Watch 4, while an Italian coastguard patrol boat took 49 of those considered most vulnerable on board, transferring them to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa

We tend to overlook human failings when they are backed by goodwill, and this team will get it right, no doubt. At least you can say that this is an artist who walks his talk, which is refreshing as an ocean breeze.

To learn more about the rescue boat and their mission from their website:

The M.V. LouiseMichel needs

  • Funding to do this work, fight legal cases and replace impounded equipment.
  • Help spreading the word about these inhumane policies. #searescueisnotacrime

“The people at sea are not unlucky casualties of the elements. This crisis is not a natural disaster. It is created by political decisions and a failure of humanity. It cannot be solved by lifeboats. If we want to sustainably stop the drowning we have to stop forcing people onto these boats. So if you want to contribute – speak up against racism, join the movements for climate justice – take any kind of action to defend global respect for all forms of life, near or far.”

Video from Banksy’s Instagram