Elusive graffiti artist Bansky customises Newgate wall clocks for an installation in new 'walled off' hotel in Bethlehem.
Banksy's 'Walled Off' Hotel Launch
You may have seen graffiti artist Banksy’s latest endeavour making the news recently. The elusive British street artist’s newly opened ‘Walled Off’ hotel proudly boasts “the worst view of any hotel in the world”, sitting just metres from the controversial barrier wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian Territories.
The hotel was built in secrecy over a 14 month period with the site specifically chosen so that all rooms feature uninterrupted views of the bleak concrete slab wall at close proximity. The top floor rooms are also eye-to-eye with the Israeli watchtowers that dominate parts of Bethlehem.
Created to mark the Centenary year of Britain taking control of Palestine, and what the artist describes as “the Century of confusion and conflict that followed”, the hotel is designed in the style of a British gentlemen’s club, with leather Chesterfield sofas and antique furniture contrasting with dozens of new works by the infamous artist.
Banksy X Newgate
Newgate’s Nantucket wall clocks are one of the many items Banksy has customised to create the interior of the hotel. The three timepieces feature one of Banksy’s most instantly recognisable trademarks – the rat – running along their dials, and are set to show the difference in time zones between London, New York and Jerusalem.
The rat is a recurring theme in Banksy’s art, often used to express the artist’s frustration and disillusionment with ‘the establishment’, and as many speculate, as a symbol of Banksy himself. The graffiti artist has gone to great lengths to preserve his anonymonity throughout his career to avoid prosecution, and the rat is thought to symbolise Banksy’s need to operate under cover of darkness, and the cunning and wiliness required to create his art without detection. The elusive artist has also alluded to the affinity he feels for the creature that spends its days on the periphery of society; ever present, often undetected and when seen scorned by those around it. As he describes, “if you feel dirty, insignificant or unloved, then rats are a good role model. They exist without permission, they have no respect for the hierarchy of society”.
The clock installation join walls of CCTV cameras, statues choking on tear gas and cherubs wearing gas masks which turn the project into part hotel, part gallery space, and part protest message.
The ten room Bethlehem hotel opens to the public on the 11th of March, with guests able to choose from a basic bunk bed room kitted out with Israeli military gear scavenged from an abandoned army barracks, or the Presidential suite which boasts a hot tub topped up by a bullet-scarred water tank. A stay in the hotel requires a $1000 security deposit to protect the artworks which surround you at every turn, and guests will be able to visit Banksy’s new graffiti supplies store ‘Wall*Mart’ which sits next door.
The hotel follows a similar project in Britain’s seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, where the artist installed a provocative and sinister themepark of his own creation - ‘Dismaland’ – in a disused swimming facility. The provocative pop-up installation was intended to be “the UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction”.