Social graffiti artist Bansky has unveiled two new pieces in New York. One of them a rat on a clock at 14th street, and the other a huge mural Kurdish painter, Zehra Dogan behind bars. The mural by the anonymous British street artist is 70-feet-long and roughly two stories high and located in lower Manhattan at the corner of Houston Street and Bowery.
"I feel really sorry for her. I've painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence," Banksy told The New York Times in a statement. The new Banksy was a collaborative effort with Borf, a graffiti artist who has spent time in jail for his artwork.
The mural consist of black marks, representing prison bars and serve as a marker for the number of days that Dogan has spent imprisoned. In one of the cells a portrait of the artist appears behind the marks, gripping at the jail cells bars, with one of the bars doubling as a pencil. The last set in the series simply reads "Free Zehra Dogan."
Located above the Banksy mural on Thursday night was a projection Dogan's art for which she was jailed with the words "Sentenced to 2 years nine months and 22 days in jail for painting this picture."
Dogan was officially sentenced on March 24, 2017 because of her painting of the Kurdish town of Nusaybin that had been bombed by the Turkish army during battle with Kurdish militants. In the painting Turkish flags can be seen flying above the rubble of buildings.
The painting itself is based on a photograph of the warfare that had been circulated heavily on on social media in the aftermath of the fighting.
Dogan who is of ethnic Kurdish descent was first arrested on July 21, 2016 for the painting and held until December of 2016 pending her trial. In a statement of defense she blamed the the government of Turkey in a now deleted Tweet that read:
“I was given [a prison sentence of] two years and 10 months only because I painted Turkish flags on destroyed buildings. However, [the Turkish government] caused this. I only painted it,”
Dogan has been an active journalist for the feminist Kurdish news site JINHA , working to fight for the equal treatment of Kurdish women. It was her work in a series of articles about the efforts of Yazidi women making their escape from ISIS captivity that earned her the Metin Göktepe Journalism Award in 2015. The award is given to journalists for outstanding writing in honor of journalist Metin Göktepe who was murdered while in the captivity of Turkish police in 1996.
Since her imprisonment, Dogan hasn't bowed to the will of the state and with the assistance of other inmates founded another newspaper, Özgür Gündem Zindan (Free Agenda Dungeon).
Despite Dogan's arguments that her painting was a reflection of her work as a journalist, she was charged with being tied to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The group is currently fighting against the Turkish government.
“The defendant photographed a scene in Nusaybin and painted Turkish flags on destroyed buildings, read a statement from the Turkish government. "It is very clear that this painting is against the operations that were conducted as a result of the PKK terrorist organization’s barricade and trench policy, which undoubtedly includes violence and force."
The prison hasn't allowed Dogan any art supplies to continue her painting, though there are a number of activists fighting to get her painting supplies so that she can continue her art.