Banksy Opens West Bank 'Walled Off' Art Hotel in Bethlehem
If, like us, you were wondering why British street art phenomenon Banksy has been keeping so quiet during the current tumultuous political climate, now we have the answer. For the past 14 months the graffiti artist has been working on a secret project in Palestine.
Part luxury hotel, part art installation, Banksy has just opened ‘The Walled Off Hotel’ in Bethlehem, overlooking the highly controversial West Bank barrier. The ‘punny’ name is translated into the hotel’s sign design which is based on that of the Waldorf, except using a spray painted background.
The 10-room, three-storey, boutique hotel boasts a mix of classic Banksy murals and canvasses, as well as pieces from local artists. Interiors have reportedly been designed in the style of a colonial English gentlemen’s club in order to highlight the role the British Empire played in the on-going conflicts.
The Walled Off Hotel opened in Area C of the West Bank on 3rd March 2017 to coincide with the centenary of the British government’s Balfour Declaration. Its location means that Israelis are able to visit as well as Palestinians once bookings open on 11th March.
“It’s exactly one hundred years since Britain took control of Palestine and started re-arranging the furniture – with chaotic results,” Banksy explained in a statement. “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.”
Described by The Telegraph as a ‘dystopian tourist attraction’, the project aims to bring jobs to the poor, war-torn area, and encourage open discussion between locals from both Israel and Palestine, as well as opening the eyes of visiting tourists. An outspoken critic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through this artwork, the hotel – which is a permanent venture – follows various stencils he has installed in the area. One of the most famous pieces being the Peace Dove in a bullet proof vest on the
The hotel’s manager, Wissam Salsah, acknowledged Banksy’s established presence in Palestine was a springboard for the project, telling the press, “We hope that we’re going to support a tourism that already exists in Bethlehem, known as Banksy tourism. I hope we’re going to generate millions of dollars for the economy of Bethlehem”.
Events planned for the hotel include a Fatboy Slim street party to be held on 13th March and concerts from composer Hans Zimmer, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails with Atticus Rose, and Massive Attack’s 3D, also known as potential Banksy suspect, Robert Del Naja.