Banksy, the elusive British street artist has opened a hotel next to Israel’s brutalist style wall in Bethlehem. This is the latest artwork by a key artist in the Palestinian territories. Cleverly titled The Walled Off Hotel after the New York luxury Art Deco hotel, it is located four meters from the separation wall which cuts through the occupied West Bank. Israel began construction on the wall in 2002, saying it was meant to keep out would-be attackers. The installation is the most ambitious since Banksy created Dismaland, a parody of Disneyland containing a child loanshark booth and a fairytale-castle slum attraction.
“The hotel “offers a warm welcome to people from all sides of the conflict and across the world” – Banksy
In this latest artwork, Banksy has taken a ramshackle hotel and redecorated the rooms which all have views of the wall. Seven of the bedrooms were designed by Banksy himself. Two others were dreamed up by Canadian and Palestinian artists. “It has the worst view of any hotel in the world,” Banksy said in a statement. Dozens of new works adorn the walls. Above one bed an Israeli soldier and Palestinian protester fight with pillows, while a television supposedly showing CNN is cracked and backward.In the presidential suite, a working jacuzzi is fed from a leaking water tank similar to those that adorn the roofs of many Palestinian homes. There is also a gallery selling Palestinian art and a museum highlighting the history of the region and Western interference in it.
In a press release, Banksy’s statement said the hotel “offers a warm welcome to people from all sides of the conflict and across the world”. Banksy has maintained his anonymity despite numerous theories and attempts to reveal his identity since he started stenciling on walls in his native city of Bristol in southwest England more than a decade ago. His artworks comment on war, child poverty, and the environment. The artist has a long history in the Palestinian territories. In 2005, he sprayed nine stenciled images at different locations along the eight-metre-high wall. They included a ladder reaching over the wall, a young girl being carried over it by balloons and a window on the gray concrete showing beautiful mountains in the background.In 2007, he painted a number of artworks in Bethlehem, including a young girl frisking an Israeli soldier pinned up against a wall.
The hotel will employ 45 people and showcase Palestinian artists featuring a number of works by Banksy. “Dormitory-style” accommodations, modeled after military barracks, will allow you to sleep in the hotel for $30 to $35 per night. For the wealthier art traveler, there are luxury suites that cost a lot more.
The hotel advertises a street party with Fatboy Slim, on March 13, who previously performed a “surprise” gig at Banksy’s Dismaland project. The Walled Off Hotel will take bookings from March 11.