Banksy, “Civilian Drone Strike” (2017) (image courtesy the artist)

As is the case with most works by Banksy, the message of this latest piece is immediate and biting. A childlike drawing of a girl and a dog, standing next to an exploding house, sits in a frame beneath three drones. It’s title: “Civilian Drone Strike.”

The work was unveiled this week in London as part of Art the Arms Fair, organized by local activists in opposition to the concurrent Defense & Security Equipment International (DSEI), one of the world’s largest arms fairs.

Poster for Art the Arms Fair by Rowan Abbott (image courtesy Art the Arms Fair)

“‘Civilian Drone Strike’ is such a powerful statement against everything that events like the DSEI arms fair stand for.” Sam Walton, an Art the Arms Fair organizer, said in a statement. “The arms trade doesn’t like people knowing about their dodgy deals to despotic regimes. They want to stay in the shadows. We are using art to draw as much attention as possible to the deadly results of their terrible industry.”

Banksy is only one of many artists who have contributed works to the alternative fair, which will sell off the pieces and donate proceeds to the UK-based organization, Campaign Against Arms Trade. Other artists involved include the Guerrilla Girls, Peter Kennard, and graffiti artist Darren Cullen, better known as SER. Like Banksy’s piece, many of the artworks criticize the military industrial complex by portraying the horrifying effects of weapons of war — all of which are on display at DSEI, from missile-equipped drones to warships to surveillance technology.

Ahmed Jahaf, “Yemen Fly Bombs” (2016) (image courtesy Art the Arms Fair)

A biannual event, the controversial DSEI drew the public opposition of London mayor Sadiq Khan as well as other local politicians earlier this year for its support of the global arms trade.

“I am opposed to London being used as a market place for the trade of weapons to those countries that contribute to human rights abuses,” Khan told The Independent.

Art the Arms Fair takes place just two miles from DSEI, at the nonprofit SET Space, where art-making events and performances will occur throughout the week. “Civilian Drone Strike” will be auctioned off this Friday, with a starting price of £10 ($13 US), set by Banksy himself.

Peter Kennard, “Warhead 2” (2017) (image courtesy Art the Arms Fair)

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Claire Voon

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...