Art And Culture

Graffiti Artwork of Drowned Toddler Highlights Refugees’ Plight

Graffiti Artwork of Drowned Toddler Highlights Refugees’ PlightGraffiti Artwork of Drowned Toddler Highlights Refugees’ Plight

A huge graffiti image of drowned toddler Aylan Kurdi, pictures of whose body stirred global sympathy for migrants fleeing war and poverty, confronts motorists, pedestrians and river travelers in Frankfurt.

Thousands of weekday commuters using the Main river footpath and road bridge will see the 120 sq m image of the three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in September along with his mother and brother as they tried to reach Europe. The artwork on a peninsula about a 15-minute walk from the city center will stay until the autumn, Reuters reported.

“We are very sad about the children dying and we are angry,” says graffiti artist Justus Becker, 38, who worked on the image with another artist Oguz Sen. “We want to work with issues facing our society.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is struggling to convince other European countries to accept a plan for handling the unprecedented flow of migrants and may face a backlash in state elections on Sunday over her open-door policy on refugees.

Staff at the European Central Bank’s headquarters across the river can also see the image.

The artists’ previous projects include graffiti on the boundary fence around the new ECB building in 2014 which showed a female figure representing Justice holding a scale with euro symbols in one weighing pan and refugees in the other.

The Aylan project, which has used 50 liters of wall paint and about 80 cans of spray paint, is intended to provoke by bringing the issue of refugees to Germans’ front doors, explains Becker.

“We hope to have people emotionally rethink their selfish fears of refugees coming to Germany.”

More than a million migrants, including refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, arrived in the EU last year, most making the perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece, then heading north through the Balkans to Germany.

Last year was the deadliest for migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean as more than 3,700 are known to have drowned or gone missing, the International Organization for Migration says. The actual number is believed to be higher.

“It is a memorial piece representing all children who died fleeing from war to Europe,” says Becker, who along with his artist partner has done voluntary work with refugees in Germany.

“Their lives matter.”