Banksy's first interactive artwork takes aim at French police
A new mural by street artist Banksy has appeared opposite the French Embassy in London, criticizing authorities' alleged use of teargas in a refugee camp in Calais, France.
The image, which recreates a poster from the French musical Les Misérables, shows a young girl enveloped by CS gas, crying.
A QR code painted near to the mural links viewers to a seven-minute online video of reputed police raids on the "Jungle" refugee camp in Calais on 5 January. It is the first time the artist has created a digitally interactive mural.
The YouTube video appears to show riot police using teargas and rubber bullets against refugees. But a police spokesperson for the local prefect in Calais, denied that teargas was used in the camp, saying last week: "We do not use teargas without a good reason and use of teargas has to be authorized and it is only authorized when it is necessary."
Authorities have cleared a 100m buffer zone along the edge of the camp by a main road, citing security reasons.
The mural is the artist's latest attack on the European response to the continuing refugee crisis. In December 2015, a mural depicting Apple founder Steve Jobs appeared in the refugee camp, accompanied by commentary on the artist's website that made reference to the entrepreneur's biological father, a Syrian migrant who settled in 1950's Wisconsin.
A second mural by the artist in Calais adapted French painter Theodore Gericault's famed image "The Raft of the Medusa," but showed refugees attempting to flag down a luxury yacht. A third mural nearby showed a child looking towards Britain through a telescope, while a vulture stands beside her.
"Dismaland", a large-scale installation created by the enigmatic British artist last August, included a work depicting drowned refugees in boats. Materials used to construct the "bemusement park", a satire of the commercial theme park experience, in Weston-Super-Mare, UK have since been shipped to the Calais camp to build shelters.
The image of Jobs has reportedly been defaced repeatedly since its arrival in the camp. A protective glass plate was placed in front of it by local authorities, but this was torn down last week.