A month after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, in February 2015 an acclaimed French street artist with the moniker Combo the Culture Kidnapper tagged the word “coexist” on a Parisian wall with the Muslim crescent forming the ‘C,’ the Star of David forming the ‘X,’ and the Christian cross for the ‘T’. It was a call for religious unity but unfortunately, it provoked the reverse effect as the artist was savagely beaten and left with a dislocated shoulder.
But still, the artist continued to create and has had recent exhibits at the Institut du Monde Arab in Paris, which, according to Vice, featured “a diverse cross-section of his work, from Romantic tableaux depicting drowning migrants to cut-and-paste collages clashing stenciled Muslim youths with hashtags, news clippings, religious imagery and quotes from literary classics. In exploding the barriers between “high” and “low” culture, offering alternative narratives on real-world events, and exploring the composite nature national and individual identity, Combo forces art to become action.”
The artists explains that “we are all different but I think that’s our common ground: it should be what unites us.” He continues, “You can’t control what people think of your work, and I don’t try to. It’s my job to pose a question, not to offer a response. If there isn’t dialogue, that’s when problems arise. What I’m doing is starting dialogue, I’m not transmitting truths.”