New Banksy mural in NY honours jailed Turkish artist

Anonymous street artist Banksy has created two new works in New York, one of which depicts detained Turkish artist Zehra Dogan.
A mural painted by Banksy, the anonymous British street artist, protests the imprisonment of Zehra Dogan on the Bowery in New York City on March 15, 2018.
A mural painted by Banksy, the anonymous British street artist, protests the imprisonment of Zehra Dogan on the Bowery in New York City on March 15, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (NYTimes)- Anonymous British artist Banksy's 70-foot-long mural was unveiled on Thursday (March 15) at the corner of Houston Street and the Bowery in lower Manhattan. It protests the imprisonment of Turkish artist and journalist Zehra Dogan, who was sentenced last March for painting the destruction of a Turkish town, with the country's flag flying over rubble.

"I really feel for her. I've painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence," Banksy said in a statement to The New York Times.

Banksy's sparse mural mostly consists of black hash marks, which visually represent jail cell bars and count the number of days that Dogan has spent in prison.

A rendering of Dogan herself peers out of one of the cells, with her left hand gripping a bar that doubles as a pencil. "Free Zehra Dogan" is written in the bottom right corner. She still has 18 months left to serve, and remains unaware of the mural, according to a news release.

The mural was a collaboration with graffiti artist Borf, who has spent time in jail for his work.

On Thursday evening, Dogan's grim painting was projected above the mural. It was based on a photograph of the Kurdish town of Nusaybin, which was partly destroyed in 2015 during fighting between the Turkish army and Kurdish militants. Dogan wrote in a now-deleted Tweet that she was imprisoned for painting "Turkish flags on destroyed buildings".

The street corner used for Banksy's new mural has been showcased the work of some of the world's most renowned street artists, from Keith Haring to Os Gemeos to JR. Slightly further uptown at 14th Street and Sixth Avenue, another Banksy work appeared, albeit much smaller: a rat, running inside a clock atop a former bank building that is slated for demolition.