Banksy's back. The pseudonymous UK artist has been relatively quiet since opening macabre theme park DismaLand in 2015, which might be because of the huge project he revealed today: a hotel "with the worst view in the world" located in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.
The 10-room Walled Off Hotel is Banksy's first major project since his satirical theme park took over a seaside resort near his hometown of Bristol. The artist announced the new accommodations earlier today with his first Instagram posts in 80 weeks: "Probably another misguided venture into corporate hospitality - the Walled Off hotel," he wrote.
The hotel stands three stories tall beside the barrier wall that separates the Palestinian territories from Bethlehem in Israel. Nestled in the West Bank, the Walled Off includes its own museum, gallery, piano bar, and even a store, making it function as part venture and part protest artwork. It opens to the public on March 20th, with reservations beginning March 11 (the gallery and museum, both open to the public, also open March 11). Getting there might not be easy, though— Banksy mentions in a statement that simply saying that you're going to the West Bank Destination can be an obstacle. "Airport security at Tel Aviv, however, is legendary," the artist writes. "Expect to be asked about the purpose of your stay and if you intend traveling to the West Bank. If you answer 'yes' you may be held up for some time, consequently many visitors choose not to highlight that particular part of their holiday."
So, why now? Says the artist, 2017 is the hundred-year mark since the "British took control of Palestine and helped kick start a Century of confusion and conflict." However, as the artist also clarifies, the hotel is not aligned with any political movement. With a good reputation, a hotel is supposed to bring a lot of visitors and Banksy emphasized that his offers, "an especially warm welcome to young Israelis." While the majority of cities in West Bank prohibit Israelis from visiting, they have open access to the hotel due to the Israeli control over the territory.
To his own credit, Banksy has a long history with these territories. In 2015, he snuck into the Gaza Strip and painted works on the destroyed walls during Israeli airstrikes. The series of works soon became a tourist destination of their own and presented the wall as place both for demonstration and artistic appreciation. It's fitting, then, that "Guests enjoy privileged out of hours access to Wall*Mart next door - the graffiti supplies store which stocks everything you need to make your mark" on the wall, if visitors see fit.
How long this project will exist? Says Banksy, it's going "to be here for the whole of the centenary year, maybe longer if people come."
Reservations begin March 11 at 9 AM GMT. Click here to book your stay at The Walled Off Hotel.