When the world-famous street artist Banksy last month declared he was opening a hotel on the West Bank, there were a few raised eyebrows and even more scoffs of disbelief. Well, now it's open — and we can take a full look at what it has to offer.
Perhaps his most outrageous stunt yet, the anonymous British artist's hotel — "The Walled-Off Hotel" — sits just five meters away from the wall that separates Israel from Palestinian territories in Bethlehem. It was converted from a former pottery workshop and includes a tea shop, art gallery and (of course) a graffiti supplies store. It will be soundtracked by Massive Attack and Nine Inch Nails.
Banksy describes the hotel as an "open-hearted community resource," unaffiliated with any political party or pressure group. Hence, it sits within "Area C" — an area which, unlike most parts of the West Bank, is open to both Israelis and Palestinians.
There's an "English gentlemen's club" theme (a reference to Britain's colonial calamities in the region) running throughout, as well as various thought-provoking artworks including oil-painted seascapes featuring refugees' lifejackets, and statues choking on tear-gas fumes.
A permanent art gallery is set open on the first floor that will exclusively show artwork made in the region. Curator Ismal Duddera says it will "open an entirely new chapter of Arab art in general and Palestinian art in particular."
Take a closer look at the hotel above.
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