The mysterious british street artist Banksy has opened in Bethlehem in Palestine, “the hotel with the worst view of the world”. The Walled Off Hotel was built in secret in an old pottery workshop, overlooking provocatively on the wall built by Israel in 2002 and will open its doors on 11 March.
Inside there are 10 rooms, each decorated differently, mostly with works of art by the english artist, a real installation for each room.
There is the room “Artist”, dedicated to those who love to surround themselves with works of art. As Diane Arbus once said ‘to live with an artwork is something different, to glimpse it from the corner of your eye.’ as quoted on the hotel website. The famous image of the pillow fight starring an israeli soldier and a palestinian protester becomes decoration for the wall above the headboard of a bed, complete with painted feathers that seem to land on the pillows.
The room “Scenic”, guarantees the best view on the wall.
“The hotel boasts floor to ceiling views of graffiti-strewn concrete from almost every room. And for the exhibitionists amongst you – many are within the range of the army watchtower”.
The “Budget” room, outfitted with surplus items from an israeli military barracks offers the experience of a night in the camp for only $ 30.
Then there is the “Presidential” suites, equipped with everything “a corrupted head of state might need.” The room is painted entirely in red and over the bed is shown a picture with a metallic heart surrounded by barbed wire and a fake stone hot tub.
A deposit of $ 1,000 is required upon arrival to deter theft of works of art that cover the hotel. Who should transgress “will be arrested, transported to the Ramallah police and treated in accordance with local law,” as listed in faq on the hotel website.
In the hallway there is a fake walled elevator and greek bust with the face covered, a quite disturbing picture with a little girl and a clown.
And then there is a lounge with the Piano Bar, so much loved by the british who took control of Palestine in 1917, decorated in an irreverent not-celebration of that colonial era. Warm scones and freshly brewed tea are served daily on fine bone china in “an air of undeserved authority” under languid ceiling fans and couches leather bound.
To welcome visitors, there is also a piano playing by itself: with a special software it will be played remotely every night offering bespoke original concerts, recorded exclusively for the hotel by world famous artists: the opening concert was held by Elton John. The programming includes a greatest hit of Massive Attack played with three hands, and original songs by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Flea and Hans Zimmer.
The location also houses an art gallery. This space enjoys complete autonomy from the rest of the hotel displaying the works of palestinian artists of the past 20 years, including Sliman Mansour with his iconic “And the Convoy Keeps Going” chosen by curator and art historian Ismal Duddera. An adjoining space is dedicated to temporary shows by upcoming artists. The gallery sells original work, prints and postcards.
Finally, to complete the experience, there is also a museum dedicated to the history of the wall, curated in association with Dr Gavin Grindon from Essex University, the museum contains the “military pornography” and some original “sculptures” of the Gaza beach where photographs, artefacts and video documents offer the visitor an ongoing repository for local stories and testimonies.
The hotel will be open from 11 March 2017, even to those who are not going to sleep, from 11:00 to 19:30.
The Walled Off Hotel
182 Caritas Street, Bethlem, Palestine
email – firstname.lastname@example.org