Anonymous street artist Banksy has opened another dystopian destination, The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, a commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a piano bar reportedly featuring music from Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails, composer Hans Zimmer and Massive Attack. The project includes an art gallery and hotel in the occupied West Bank city that is being operated by the local community.
According to the official site, the installation officially opens on Saturday (March 11) and its piano bar features a remote controlled mechanical baby grand, "programmed with a bespoke score of contemporary arrangements, plus every night it will play back a concert recorded exclusively for the hotel. We start our residency programme with 3D who presents the greatest hits of Massive Attack played with three hands. Concerts start every night from 9pm. Upcoming artists include Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Flea and Hans Zimmer."
The project comes on the heels of 2015's "Dismaland" anti-theme park, which harnessed music from Run The Jewels, Massive Attack, Pussy Riot, Sleaford Mods and Kate Tempest, plus DJs like Peanut Butter Wolf, DJ Dapper Dan, DJ Yoda, and Breakbeat Lou.
Elton John reportedly helped launch the hotel with an opening party featuring a remote performance during which he said "I send you my love and peace." It was unclear at press time if the named artists had officially sanctioned the use of their names and music for the project.
The nine-room hotel has a view of the wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian territories and was launched to mark the centennial of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, in which the UK offered support for Palestine as a "national home for the Jewish people." According to an artist statement on what appears to be the hotel's official site: "Britain got its hands on Palestine in 1917 and the piano bar is themed as a colonial outpost from those heady days. It is equipped with languid ceiling fans, leather bound couches and an air of undeserved authority. Guests can peruse a collection of Banksy artworks that include vandalised oil paintings and statues choking on tear gas fumes. Warm scones and freshly brewed tea are served daily on fine bone china and the Walled Off Salad should not be missed."
The Hotel has an art gallery featuring works by noted Palestinian artists as well as some up-and-coming artists and a museum containing an animated history of the region, "military pornography and original beach sculpture from Gaza." The rooms, which run $30 a night, were designed by Banksy with surplus items from Israeli military barracks, while the Presidential Suite is said to feature "everything a corrupt head of state would need -- a "plunge bath able to accommodate up to four revellers, original artwork, library, home cinema, roof garden, tiki bar and a water feature made from a bullet riddled water tank. Comes with a complete set of Dead Sea bath minerals and an in-room dining service available upon request. Sleeps up to six."
As for whether the whole thing is a joke, a FAQ page says it is not, but rather a "genuine art hotel with fully functioning ensuite facilities and limited car parking." The project is supposed to remain open for a year and the questions page points out that it is "definitely" not intended to be anti-Semitic. "The Walled Off Hotel is an entirely independent leisure facility set up and financed by Banksy," it reads. "It is not aligned to any political movement or pressure group. The aim is to tell the story of the wall from every side and give visitors the opportunity to discover it for themselves. We offer an especially warm welcome to young Israelis. Absolutely no fanaticism is permitted on the premises."
Billboard has reached out to a spokesperson for the Hotel to confirm the details proffered on the website.