British activist artist Banksy launches on March 11th the Walled Off Hotel, located in the West Bank city of Bethlehem nestled against the controversial barrier wall separating Israel from the Palestinian territories. With an aim to tell the story of the wall from every side and give visitors the opportunity to discover it for themselves, the Walled Off Hotel, is also Banksy’s tribute to Basquiat
Banksy says his Walled Off Hotel has “the worst view of any hotel in the world.”Worse yet, the hotel’s 10 rooms get just 25 minutes of direct sunlight a day.
Banksy’s latest work of art that is artistry and intelligence is a hotel, museum, protest site and art gallery all in one. The Guardian writes:
From the disconcertingly lavish presidential suite (everything a corrupt head of state would need) where water splashes from a bullet-strafed water tank into the hot tub, to the bunk-beds in the budget room scavenged from an abandoned army barracks, the hotel is playful and strongly political. All the rooms look out on to the concrete slabs of the wall and some have views over it to pill boxes and an Israeli settlement – illegal under international law – on the hillside beyond.
“Walls are hot right now, but I was into them long before [Donald] Trump made it cool,” said Banksy in a statement.
The Wall divides the nation of Palestine from the state of Israel and restricts movement between the two for citizens of both sides. Depending on who you talk to its either a vital security measure or an instrument of apartheid. Its route is highly controversial and it has a dramatic impact on the daily lives of a lot of people.
Banksy also designed the entire interior, said Wisam Salsaa at the presentation of the project. The 42-year-old is the public face of the hotel because the artist still works unrecognized.
“I would like to invite everyone to come here, invite Israeli civilians to come visit us here,” said manager Wisam Salsaa. “We want them to learn more about us, because when they know us it will break down the stereotypes and things will change.”
“It’s exactly 100 years since Britain took control of Palestine and started rearranging the furniture – with chaotic results,” Banksy said. “I don’t know why, but it felt like a good time to reflect on what happens when the United Kingdom makes a huge political decision without fully comprehending the consequences.”
Another highlight of the hotel is “The Piano” a remote controlled baby grand piano which will play back a concert recorded exclusively for the hotel, with 3D kicking off the residency programme who presents the greatest hits of Massive Attack played with three hands. Concerts start every night from 9pm. Upcoming artists include Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Flea and Hans Zimmer.
The Piano Bar open from March 11th Guests can peruse a collection of Banksy artworks that include vandalised oil paintings and statues choking on tear gas fumes.
The Museum curated in association with Dr Gavin Grindon from Essex University the museum contains almost fully fact-checked material and will be an ongoing repository for local stories, artefacts and testimonies and is dedicated solely to the biography of the wall.
As Diane Arbus once said ‘to live with an artwork is something different, to glimpse it from the corner of your eye.’