The Walled Off Hotel by Banksy: the hotel with the worst views in the world
Last weekend we went to see the Banksy: Genius or Vandal! Expo at IFEMA and it was incredible. Not only due to the amount of pieces by the artist but by the work carried out to make the montage durable. Really worth it!
And, in fact, it was there that we saw the prolific artist’s last British street work in Palestine. It’s called The Walled Off Hotel – whose name makes reference to the chain of luxury Waldorf hotels and to the wall as “walled off” means “separated by the wall” – it’s a hotel whose main attraction is that it provides the worst views in the world.
This controversial 3* hotel is at Caritas Street 182, in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, opposite the Wall that divides the area from the West Bank. A 100% Banksy project.
Travelling is a way of discovering that we all make mistakes in our ideas about other countries.
Bethlehem is in fact, forbidden to Israelis by law and The Walled Off Hotel (which is fully booked until half-way through this year) is outside the city in an area of low Israeli control, making it completely legal for them to visit. This is to say that both Palestinians and Israelis can visit it. For this reason, all writing is in English, Arabic and Hebrew.
The artist’s objective, as with all and every facility and interventions is always to educate, and in this case what he wants to accomplish is to find a way to foster dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians and show the former an unknown face of this land, whose economy is based mainly on the pilgrims and tourism and which has been severely damaged by increasingly more forceful controls by the Israelis. He also wants to draw the attention of his millions of fans regarding this painful and cruel conflict, especially to young people, who, in spite of living the situation themselves, opt for evincing it.
As I said earlier, the peculiarity of The Walled Off Hotel resides in that the ten rooms that face the walled off separation which was built by Israel in 2003, and which have also have been decorated by Banksy – who has painted various works of art since 2005 in Palestine territories where he has left his mark on the Wall with emblematic graffiti’s -, and are full of pieces with messages of denouncement which revolve around the apartheid wall which separates Israel from the Palestinian territories.
In this way, and with the purpose of calling for dialogue, the hotel will be home to Palestinian exhibitions, giving the artists the opportunity to travel and obtain international repercussions. There is also a shop with very surprising gifts.
Enough said. What’s clear is that Banksy has achieved it again. He has not only created absolute brilliance but has also revolutionized the art world once again, making waves in conscience and creating discomfort…We can only hope for more artists with his vision.
(*) Photo: The Walled Off hotel