Bristol street artist Banksy has been upping his game of late. In 2015, he wowed/depressed the people of Weston-super-Mare with his pop-up dystopian attraction Dismaland. Now he’s really taken things to the next level with a ten-room hotel in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, which opens on March 20. And it boasts quite the selling point: the ‘worst view in the world’.
That would be the wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian territories – described as a security measure by some, and forced segregation by others. And the view is just the start. Aside from the typical stencilled works you’d expect from Banksy, inside the hotel are also busts choking on tear gas, a water tank ridden with bullet holes and statue of a chimpanzee dressed as a bellboy. Oh, and a remote-controlled piano that at 9pm each night plays music composed by Massive Attack (of which many suspect Banksy is a member) and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. It all relates, in some form or other, to the bitter dispute between the two communities on either side of the wall.
So while it’s all more experiential and interactive than usual, it’s still classic Banksy: satirical, caustic and provocative. And while his new venture is bound to get a lot of people across the political spectrum very angry indeed, the street artist’s representatives are insistent there’s no partisan aspect to The Walled Off Hotel – that its intention is to tell both sides of the story, and to get people thinking. Cynics out there should also know that Banksy isn’t going to receive any of the hotel’s profits: he financed it himself and all the money it makes will go to the local community.
Let’s face it, London has its fair share of issues that are ripe for the Banksy hotel satire treatment. There’s air pollution, for one. Oh, and gentrification and all its associated ills. AND the housing crisis. Jeez... Banksy, come back to the capital. You’re needed here!
For more info about The Walled Off Hotel, go to www.bansky.co.uk. Any decor suggestions for Banksy to include in a London hotel? Regale us at @TimeOutArt.
Want to see Banksy’s work in London? Check out this handy map.