There have always been rats lurking beneath the beautiful streets of Paris, but it’s the few that can be spotted upon stretches of public wall space that are causing a stir this month in the City of Light.
One wears a Minnie Mouse bow à la Disneyland while posed beneath a banner for May 1968, a period of civil unrest and student riots; another rides a cork as it ejects from a bottle of Champagne.
These are just some of the latest politically charged images created by Banksy, the world-renowned anonymous street artist — this time targeting the French refugee crisis, capitalism, and globalization, NBC reports.
"There are two types of Banksy," said Paris architect Sulivan Archambault in an interview with NBC News, "the political and the other that plays with the emotions of people and their social codes."
The graffiti artist’s most recent pieces, which were unveiled on World Refugee Day, fall squarely in the former camp. At least seven new works have appeared across the city, ranging from ablack girl checking over her shoulder as she paints over a swastika to a man holding a saw, offering a bone to a three-legged dog.
While those images were fairly transparent in subject matter, others continue to spark debate over interpretation.
One relief left in the 19th arrondissement, a neighborhood that is home to many immigrants, transformed a famous portrait of Napoleon on his horse to appear shrouded in a red robe, causing some observers to infer that it was a protest against the French government's opposition to Islamic veils in public places, noted NBC.
Yet another image of a veiled woman appeared on a small street behind the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people were killed by Islamist terrorists in November 2015, according to ArtLyst.
"It is an extraordinary chance to have Banksy in Paris," said Nicolas Laugero Lasserre, editor of the art website Artistik Rezo, in an interview with Business Standard. "As always, his interventions arrive at a key political moment, urging citizens and government to change the paradigm on the migration issue."
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