The British street artist bought and revamped a French Navy vessel to assist in the recovery of North African immigrants sailing the Mediterranean seeking asylum in Europe.
Banksy‘s latest stunt won’t be heading to auction anytime soon.
According to The Guardian, the UK-based artist has doubled-down on his humanitarian initiatives, purchasing and refurbishing a 99-foot French Navy boat to aid the ongoing refugee recovery effort in the Mediterranean. Named after French feminist anarchist, Louise Michel, the vessel is capable of hitting more than 28 knots, and has already saved more than 300 refugees since setting sail on August 18th.
Once aboard, the boat is tasked with finding a safe port to disembark passengers or transfer them to the European coast guard. In a video posted to Instagram, the artist underscores how several E.U. states have instructed their respective coast guards to ignore distress calls for “non-Europeans,” leaving migrants (literally) adrift in the middle of an open and unforgiving sea. The artist is not a member of the crew, but has employed 10 activists with extensive search and rescue experience to man the ship (which is blasted with a hot-pink coat of paint and a stensil remeniscent of his iconic “Girl With Balloon” print.)
The rescue boat marks Banksy’s latest effort in the North African migrant crisis, following a September 2019 email to NGO boat captain, Pia Klemp, in which he commended her work and pledged to donate money from the sale of work inspired by the migrant crisis for the purchase of new ships.
On his latest effort, Claire Faggianelli, an activist who worked on the ship ahead of its departure, told The Guardian, “We really want to try to awaken the consciousness of Europe and say: ‘Look, we have been yelling at you for years now. There is something that shouldn’t be happening at the very borders of Europe, and you close your eyes to it. Wake up!'”