By Hayden Wright
Banksy has captivated the world with his anonymous, unpredictable street art — the artist’s latest project is Bethlehem’s Walled Off Hotel in the West Bank. The immersive installation includes a hotel (with rooms you can actually rent), a piano bar, a museum and an art gallery.
In the piano bar, a baby grand piano is remote-controlled with a score of “contemporary arrangements” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Flea, Hans Zimmer and more. The instrument plays concerts every night beginning at 9 p.m. while visitors enjoy fresh scones and dystopian artwork. The music was pre-recorded exclusively for the hotel by the artists. Elton John played the bar’s opening night via satellite.
“Guests can peruse a collection of Banksy artworks that include vandalised oil paintings and statues choking on tear gas fumes,” explains the website. “Warm scones and freshly brewed tea are served daily on fine bone china and the Walled Off Salad should not be missed.”
The Walled Off Hotel is Banksy’s exploration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and commemorates the “centenary year,” when the British took control of Palestine in 1917. This, the artist says, kick-started “a century of confusion and conflict.”
In the hotel site’s FAQ section, Banksy offered a cheeky (and illuminating) answer to “Why Bethlehem?”
“This place is the centre of the universe — every time God comes to earth it seems to happen near here. The architecture and landscape are stunning, the food delicious and the current situation remarkable and touching. This is a place of immense spiritual and political significance — and very good falafel.”
The Walled Off Hotel opens for reservations March 11.