"It felt like a good time to reflect on what happens when the United Kingdom makes a huge political decision without fully comprehending the consequences.”
When Banksy opened a dystopian version of the Waldorf Hotel last week in Bethlehem, directly facing the border wall, it was shrouded in the pseudonymous artist's typical veneer of mystery. Now more information detailing the hotel's rhyme and reason is available—straight from the source.
Last week's news was veiled by vague Instagram posts and a deadpan online tour. Banksy's website masquerades as standard hotel fair—with a twist. It touts, "The worst view of any hotel in the world," while also describing the accommodations as "scenic," and advertising its budget option: a room packed with old army barracks bunk beds.
Now Banksy has released a statement explaining why he decided to open the hotel, aside from the fact that he's probably broke from other people circumventing him to scavenge and sell his art. "It's exactly one hundred years since Britain took control of Palestine and started re-arranging the furniture—with chaotic results," he explains. As it turns out, this sequel to his 2015 pop-up theme park Dismaland is the pseudonymous artist's long-awaited reaction to Brexit. "I don't know why, but it felt like a good time to reflect on what happens when the United Kingdom makes a huge political decision without fully comprehending the consequences."
The hotel is likely to draw crowds for its artist-designed rooms, which the website describes as, "literally sleeping inside a work of art," created by Banksy, Sami Musa, and Dominique Petrin, with more to follow. More will come for the A-list piano bar, which will play compositions by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Hans Zimmer, and Massive Attack. (Last year, Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja is was purported to actually be Banksy.) Elton John played the hotel's opening party on Sunday, March 5. "I don't know much about piano players; I could only think of one," says Banksy. "So, I wrote Elton John an email—and rather amazingly he agreed to play."
"As a fan of the artist Banksy, I was honored when asked to perform for the launch of The Walled Off Hotel," says John. "I have long believed in the unifying power of music. It can break down barriers and bring together people from all walks of life. With my music, I have always appreciated being welcomed by, and enjoyed performing for, audiences from all over the world. The Walled Off Hotel, like my music, is welcome to people from all sides of the conflict and across the world. Like Banksy, I am not allying myself with any political party or pressure group. I am simply embracing the opportunity to bring people together through my music."
The amenities seem to be endless. At one point Banksy adopts his best salesman voice and starts railing them off: "A hotel, tea shop, home-made museum with en-suite art gallery and graffiti supplies store—an all-inclusive vandals resort." The built-in art gallery curated by historian and critic Dr. Housni Alkhateeb Shehada, will help to, "open an entirely new chapter of Arab art in general and Palestinian art in particular."
Once the Walled Off gets visitors ensnared, Banksy says he wants the hotel to function as, "A three-storey cure for fanaticism, with limited car parking." The Walled Off occupies one of the few areas accessible to both Israelis and Palestinians, operating under the idea that once they share a roof they'll be less likely to support war with one another. They can also learn about the 400-mile long Israeli Separation Barrier that physically divides them at an in-house museum, apparently making the Walled Off, "The world's only visitor attraction dedicated to the biography of a single concrete structure."
Banksy closes his explanation of the Walled Off Hotel with bravado and a jab at the socio-economic situation of the Bristol-adjacent beach community where he launched Dismaland. "My accountant was worried some people will be too scared to travel to the West Bank, but then I remind him—for my last show they spent a whole day in Weston-super-Mare."
Tour the inside of the Walled Off in the images below:
Reservations for the Walled Off Hotel open March 11 at 9AM GMT, and a store called Wall Mart launches March 20. Learn more on the official website.