Banksy decorates West Bank hotel with views of Israel’s wall

Banksy decorates West Bank hotel with views of Israel’s wall

A Banksy wall painting showing Israeli border policeman and Palestinian in a pillow fight is seen in one of the rooms of the "The Walled Off Hotel" in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, March 3, 2017Image copyright
AP

A hotel which prides itself on the “worst view in the world” is set to attract international attention – because it is a collaboration with the famous street artist Banksy.

The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem looks out on the concrete slabs of the controversial barrier Israel has built in and around the occupied West Bank.

Israel says it is needed to prevent terror attacks. Palestinians say it is a device to grab land and the International Court of Justice has called it illegal.

The rooms of the hotel are also filled with the anonymous artist’s work, much of which is about the conflict.

The owners say it will be a real, functioning hotel, opening on 20 March.

But the hotel is also part art gallery and part political statement.

People pass by the "The Walled Off Hotel" and the Israeli security barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, March 3, 2017.Image copyright
AP

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Most cities in the West Bank are off-limits for Israeli visitors. But the Walled Off Hotel sits along a part which remains under Israel’s control – meaning Israeli visitors can visit the Walled Off Hotel and see Banksy’s latest creations.

A visitor looks at a bed inside street artist Banksy"s newly opened Walled Off hotel in the Israeli occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, on March 3, 2017.Image copyright
AFP

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Every room is decorated with works by Banksy. “My accountant was worried some people will be too scared to travel to the West Bank,” the artist said in a press release. “But then I remind him – for my last show they spent a whole day in Weston-super-Mare,” he added, referencing his dystopian theme park on the English coast.

The presidential suite of the The Walled Off Hotel" in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, March 3, 2017.Image copyright
AP

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The works include a mural in one bedroom of an Israeli solider and his Palestinian counterpart having a pillow fight. In the presidential suite, the bed is decorated in romantic red – with a painting of a heart contained by barbed wire as its centrepiece.

A picture taken from street artist Banksy"s newly opened Walled Off hotel in the Israeli occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, on March 3, 2017, shows Israel"s controversial separation wall.Image copyright
AFP

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The hotel is proud of its self-declared “worst view in the world”, coupled with its British colonial aesthetic. Afternoon tea is served daily, and there are several references to British culture throughout.

A mock television shows a painting by Banksy - a girl throwing rocks at the camera, apparently on the CNN channel. But the glass of the fake television is itself broken by her assault.

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Even the typical hotel television has been transformed into a piece of political art.

The presidential suite of the The Walled Off Hotel" in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, March 3, 2017.Image copyright
Dusan Vranic

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The presidential suite is decorated in mock-colonial style. The owners said the style was an “English gentlemen’s club from colonial times”.

An employee stands in the restaurant area of the The Walled Off Hotel" in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, March 3, 2017Image copyright
AP

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“However, the refined ambience has been brought right up to date – the oil painted seascapes are awash with refugees’ life jackets, statues choke on tear gas fumes and cherubs fall to earth starved of breath.”

Gavin Grindon of the University of Essex, who co-curated with Banksy the museum inside "The Walled Off Hotel", stands by the reenactment of the signing of the year 1919 Balfour declaration in the in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, March 3, 2017.Image copyright
AP

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Among those references is a recreation, housed in the museum area, of the signing of the Balfour declaration, which gave British endorsement for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. Banksy said: “It’s exactly one hundred years since Britain took control of Palestine and started re-arranging the furniture – with chaotic results.”

A wall decorated with security cameras and slingshots is seen in the bar area of the "The Walled Off Hotel" and the Israeli security barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, March 3, 2017.Image copyright
AP

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The bar area is also decorated – but with security cameras, slingshots and sledgehammers in direct reference to the security barrier outside and the conflict it was built as a result of. The restaurant area features more politically-charged artwork. There is also a gallery on the ground floor filled with Palestinian art.

Doorman stands at the entrance of the "The Walled Off Hotel" in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, March 3, 2017.Image copyright
AP

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The hotel will accept bookings from 11 March, nine days before its opening. Its doors directly face a stretch of the wall which Banksy has previously painted. “Walls are hot right now,” the press statement quoted Banksy saying, “but I was into them long before Trump made it cool.”

The Walled Off Hotel opens on 20 March.

Banksy decorates West Bank hotel with views of Israel’s wall}

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