Banksy, the elusive artist responsible for the coolest street graffiti in London, recently set up shop in Israel’s “least friendly hotel room.” The aforementioned hotel room is the Walled Off Hotel. This unfriendly-sounding locale is a hotel on the West Bank of Bethlehem with windows overlooking the walls that separate the West Bank from Israel, which is probably the most depressing vista possible for the hospitality industry. Almost every window of the hotel opens up to a 30-foot wall of concrete.
The above picture decorates one of the rooms just above a king size bed, continuing Banksy’s theme of contrasting real world angst with natural delicacy. Here, instead of a protester throwing a flower in in lieu of a molotov cocktail, you have an Israeli soldier and Palestinian teen locked in pillow combat.
The other pieces are less mural based, and use the modern art installation to maximum effect. One piece uses a monkey to make a comment on the treatment of those doing service jobs.
The other piece is more like a museum installation, with a looming comment on the surveillance state via trophies made of cameras. Below lies a wax statue depicting the signing of the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 document describing the intent to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
This is not Banksy’s first foray into the contentious field of Israeli and Palestinian issues. He has visited the West Bank for years, and even made a video documentary about his time there. Four street murals were credited to him in Gaza, and these installations show his increasing desire to articulate the issues of the region through his striking art.
Soon you too can visit the hotel, as it opens March 11th. This is perhaps his most ambitious project since 2015’s consumerist comment Dismaland, and seems even more controversial. As the world wades further into an era of fear, confusion and prejudice, Banksy reminds us that art can help us see issues threw a broader perspective.
Now more than ever, Banksy has an opportunity to capture the minds of our uniquely anxiety inducing age.