Street Artists Launch Poster Campaign for Gaza

Shepard Fairey poster based on an image taken by Palestinian photojournalist Belal Khaled in Gaza on November 8, 2023 (all images courtesy Unmute Gaza)

An international street art movement featuring Palestinian photojournalism from the Gaza Strip is drawing attention to the devastating toll of Israel’s ongoing bombardment. Titled Unmute Gaza, the creative campaign reinterprets the photography of journalists Belal Khaled, Mahmoud Bassam, Sameh Nidal-Rahmi, and Saher Alghorra through the lenses of visual artists including Shepard Fairey, Bastardilla, and Escif.

Since Hamas’s October 7 attack that resulted in the killing of at least 846 Israeli civilians, Israel’s military has killed over 22,835 Palestinians, including an estimated 79 media workers, through a catastrophic siege and a barrage of airstrikes in Gaza. Displaying a prominent mute volume symbol in the center of the posters, the artworks in the campaign focus on the silencing of journalists, whom Israel has largely banned from entering the region to report from the ground.

Described as “a bridge between artists, photojournalists reporting in Gaza, and the people in the streets,” the initiative involves the printing and pasting of posters available for free via the campaign’s website. The movement began in November with a demonstration by anonymous cultural workers at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City that led museum staff to temporarily close the museum. Since this initial action, the campaign has spread to at least 74 cities in 28 countries spanning all four hemispheres, according to campaign organizers. 

One of the most downloaded prints from the campaign’s database is a work by Shepard Fairey based on a November 8 photograph by Khaled. The black-and-yellow poster shows a bloodied Palestinian child in anguish with the harrowing caption, “Can you hear us?” Other artworks show Gaza’s devastated infrastructure, Palestinian parents grieving over the bodies of their murdered children, and a symbolic white dove.

“Many Western governments are complicit in this Genocide. Their silence hurts,” reads a statement at the beginning of a video documenting the Unmute Gaza campaign, underscoring the symbolic mute symbol displayed on the posters. The video shows demonstrators in countries around the globe unfurling banners from rooftops, carrying the posters in protests for Palestine, and pasting the artworks in public spaces like subway stations and bus stops.

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