The Worst View In the World: Banksy Builds The Walled-Off Hotel Smack Dab At the Apartheid Wall, Because Banksy
Banksy goes big. AP Photo
Citing his vision of “a three-storey cure for fanaticism, with limited car parking,” the ever-brilliant Banksy has unveiled a secretly built, furiously felt, 10-room, colonially-themed Walled-Off Hotel hard by the Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem that wryly boasts "the worst view in the world" - ie Israeli gun towers, concrete walls, tangles of barbed wire and illegal settlements - and just 25 minutes of sunlight a day. Set amidst the rubble of Area C in the occupied West Bank, the hotel is aimed at both boosting a ravaged Palestinian economy and raising awareness among Israeli and foreign visitors of the Occupation's devastating effect on Palestinian lives.
The project, which was kept under wraps during 14 months of construction, was revealed to a few journalists Friday; it will open for business next week, with rates starting at $30 a night for dorm-style, bunk-bed rooms re-purposed from Israeli Army barracks. Its opening was designed to coincide with the centenary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration that helped lead to the creation of Israel - when, Banksy notes, a hapless Britain "started re-arranging the furniture - with chaotic results.”
The largest new Banksy work in years, the hotel is packed with his droll, dazzling art. Designed to resemble a colonial-era English gentleman's club - complete with traditional afternoon tea - it features a small museum documenting the history of the Apartheid Wall, a gallery showcasing Palestinian art, and new Banksy creations everywhere: pillow-fighting Israelis and Palestinians, gas-mask-wearing cherubs, tear-gas-choked busts, Presidential suite hot tubs fed by fountains that replicate shot-up Palestinian water tanks, floral paintings encased in wire, a sniper-targeted Jesus overseen by a flight of drones, and a live-action Balfour signing away the rights of a people in unthinking circles, again and again.
The hotel is the latest and most ambitious reflection of Banksy's years-long support of Palestinian issues. He visited Bethlehem over a decade ago to decorate the Wall with some of his best-known pieces, got smuggled through tunnels into Gaza after the 2014 Israeli assault to create a series of new works, and then released a lacerating mock "tourist video" of a decimated Gaza that urged, "Make this the year you discover a new destination." Since then, he's been pretty quiet. Maybe he was heeding the lesson of one of his pieces, now more trenchant than ever, that advises, "If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit."
The way war should be. Photo by Emma Graham-Harrison/The Guardian
Jesus targeted. Photo by Drusan Vronic/AP
The so-called view. Photo by AFP
Slingshots and surveillance cameras as art. AP.