Anonymous street artist and political activist Banksy has generated headlines with his beautiful murals, lined with political messages and social commentary, which have made for some valuable and collectible Banksy prints.
Now, the anonymous artist and activist is making headlines once again, this time with a unique business venture, a hotel being advertised as having the ‘worst view in the world’.
The Walled Off Hotel, Banksy’s most recent venture, is located right next to the controversial Israeli separation barrier on Bethelem’s West Bank. Banksy himself has advertised it has having ‘the worst view in the world’, on top of its measly 10 rooms getting a mere 25 minutes of natural lighting from the sun a day.
The bleak-seeming hotel, placed right next to the controversial barrier that separates Israel from Palestine’s territories, is more than simply just another hotel. By its design and placement alone, it is strikingly clear that, like many those Banksy prints and murals that made them so famous, Banksy aims to make a statement with this hotel. With that in mind, the hotel offers a unique experience, being a mix of a hotel, museum, gallery and political protest rolled into one strategically placed building, and filled with the art and ideology of the Bristol-based anonymous street artist and activist.
The hotel is appropriately lavish for one of its kind, unorthodox as it may be, but filled with the expected style and design that is expected of Banksy. The halls are lined with art with a political message, such as a bust covered in clouds from a tear gas grenade. The hotel’s aesthetics possess a dystopian colonial theme, a subtle nod to Britain’s entanglements within the region. The expected reception and tea room provide a somewhat eerie take on the usual surroundings via a self-playing piano with an appropriately atmospheric, that is to say somewhat creepy, tune.
Inside is a museum showing off the art of the separation wall, and the history behind the wall, handled with the help of Gavin Grindon, a professor from Essex University, who expressed that bafflement is to be expected with the issue.
The hotel is aimed at promoting dialogue about the wall and the Palestinians, with a gallery devoted to showcasing works from Palestine’s artists, the first of its kind in Bethelem, which is good for the artists, who find it hard to travel due to restrictions enforced via the military.
Hotel manager Wisam Salsaa, sees the hotel as a chance for Israeli to come into contact with Palestinians, and hopefully get rid of the old, offensive stereotyping common in rivaling neighbor countries.
Officially, the Walled Off Hotel is located in a site under the control of the Israeli military, but to get there, the route requires traveling through Palestine controlled territory. This means that, for Israelis, staying at the hotel is legal, getting to it, somewhat less so.
Banksy’s reputation is expected to drive people to the hotel, which slated to bring tourism into the area, which has suffered due to the restrictions imposed by the Israeli government in order to keep out Palestinians.
Banksy made a statement, saying that it came to him, seeing as it had been a century since Britain took control of Palestine and made changes, which he says has lead to problems in current times. He said that it was an example of the UK making a big decision on the political scene recklessly, without considering the consequences of such a decision.
The hotel opened last March 20, and can be booked via the official website.