John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The sea-spanning artwork is a commentary on European migration.
In the Maltese town of Sliema there’s an image of a giant man on a building, butt propped up as he crawls into a dark tunnel. Almost 300 miles away, in the coastal Italian burg of Sapri, the dude’s upper half emerges from a different building, an expression of grim determination twisting his face.
This sea-spanning mural is the work of French-born street artist MOT, who painted it as a commentary on his own freakishly long torso. Kidding—the piece, “The Mediterranean Door,” references the arduous and often risky journey of migrants heading to Europe for a new beginning, according to Sky.
The tiny island of Malta has received bad press in the past for not accepting migrants. The Malta Independent quotes an Italian lawyer speaking on the subject:
“Instead, the Maltese send the asylum seekers to Italy. When a boat with 120 migrants wanted to enter the harbour, a motorboat came out, with a cable. Everyone thought the cable would drag the boat into the harbour, but instead it dragged it to Sicily….
Malta is too small to take in thousands of persons. But if someone is in danger at sea, they pick him up: it is not true they push him back in the water. Then they try not to keep him: that is true. They have a pragmatic approach, but not an inhuman one.”
The get-out-of-here-now strategy suggests the Maltese authorities might be interested in MOT’s imagined technology: a gaping hole you push nomads in to magically send them to far-off shores.