Jeremy Allan

Travel & Design Blog

Artist Series 001 - Banksy x Danny Boyle "The Alternativity"


Messages With Meaning


By the people, for the people

Banksy x Danny Boyle "The Alternativity"

Understanding the meaning/reasoning behind any piece of art or design is rooted in a deeper contextual understanding of both the place of its creation and whom it's created for. The film capturing the production of "The Alternativity" displays just that, giving valuable insights into the process of collaborative work between two opposing cultures. Set in the West Bank's of Palestine in the city of Bethlehem at the "Walled Off Hotel" (owned & created by Banksy) was where the creation of this project arose. The "Walled Off Hotel", is a permanent art instillation conceived in reaction to the hundred year anniversary of the Mandate of Palestine, set forth by Britain. The motivation was to bring light, "the affects foreign policy can have without fully understanding the consequence", to quote Banksy.

The birthplace of Jesus sets the mood of this documentary, but similar to all of Banksy's work there is a level of controversial hypocrisy surrounding the subject matter. Although attributed as the birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem is not the ideal perception of peace and prosperity. Instead it's a war torn state split into different settlements, segregating populations based off of ethnicity. A literal wall divides cultures, controlling the movement of citizens throughout every aspect of their daily life.

This disjunction is the driving force behind, "The Alternativity", by creating a symbolic representation of the moment Jesus entered this world, "saving us all" (the nativity scene). 

Collaboration was essential to the success of this project, but in order to understand its success a definition of the meaning of success relating to art & design is needed. In my words success is characterized as, "the ability to create or invoke a specific characteristic, emotion or action from a given culture. Relating directly to the needs and understandings that culture provides, always emphasizing the ability of universal understanding, not only for that given culture but also applying universal traits that can be understood across many cultures". 

Through collaboration Banksy, Danny Boyle and many other collaborating artists, actors and locals were able to achieve a very daunting task. Innovating on a historical and iconic event in history and directly relating it to the current oppression of the people that live in that state. By adapting to and including these living conditions into the creation of this project the ability to draw meaningful insights was created. These insights cultivate a dialog between distinctly different people from distinctly different cultures, creating a mutual understanding of each others physical and emotional states. This dialog acts as guidelines for the criteria that must be meet in order for the success of this project to come into fruition. Without these criteria the ability to innovate meaningfully for a community outside of your own is impossible. Participation from members of all levels inside that community is needed to innovate with meaning, otherwise a disconnect between the people and the project will form. Creating a solution that comes across as patronizing instead helpful, it won't form meaningful connections in that community but it also won't form those connections in other communities. This is due to the lack of meaningful dialog between artist or designer and the users it was created for, this leads to the overall decrease in emotional empathy and understanding. Resulting in a project that is a perceived solution instead of an insightful one. 

Emphasizing the necessity of collaboration and participation from different members of different communities and cultures is why, "The Alternativity",  was successful. It's success is marked by the meaningfulness it created in its own community, but also the meaningfulness it provides different communities in different cultures.

-Jeremy Allan






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