Trent Reznor and Flea Contribute New Music to the Piano Bar at Banksy’s New Palestinian Hotel
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Mysterious and perpetually buzzed-about artist Banksy didn’t get where he is by doing anything the ordinary way, so it should come as no surprise that his latest project is a fully functioning Palestinian hotel that comes with a view of the wall separating the country from Israel — and a piano bar that treats guests to original music from an array of famous artists that includes Trent Reznor and Flea.
The Walled Off Hotel, scheduled to open to the public March 11, is located in Bethlehem, and although the idea seems at least partially designed as a provocative way of making light of the long, grueling conflict between Palestine and Israel — it’s being billed as “the hotel with the worst view in the world” — Banksy hasn’t skimped on attractions for guests. The hotel is connected to a museum whose exhibits offer “the biography of the wall,” there’s a gallery containing works by prominent Palestinian artists (some of which guests can bring to their room during their stay), and the bar has been decorated to resemble “a colonial outpost from those heady days” when Britain assumed control of the territory in 1917.
Aside from the decor, the bar’s chief draw is a remote-controlled baby grand piano that’s “been programmed with a bespoke score of contemporary arrangements” which include a nightly concert consisting of exclusive music (you can watch Elton John “performing” at the grand opening via the video embedded above). The first Walled Off artist-in-residence is scheduled to be Massive Attack member 3D, with future performances already lined up from Reznor and Atticus Ross, Flea, and prolific soundtrack composer Hans Zimmer.
Interestingly enough, this isn’t Banksy’s first foray into branded Palestinian lodging. As the Independent notes, there’s already a “Banksy’s Guest House” in Bethlehem, renamed with his permission after a meeting between the artist and the homeowner a decade ago. Although Guest House owner Claire Anastas is well aware that the Walled Off’s opening may damage her business, she says she’s willing to change the name — even though the current number of lodgers isn’t exactly soaring.
“Once a month I have one guest come for one night. It’s not enough, at all,” Anastas told the paper. “I want to ask [Banksy] if he will help us, as we are struggling.”
Anastas isn’t the only Bethlehem resident with concerns about the new business. As local artist Ayed Arafah pointed out, Banksy’s attempts to shine a cultural spotlight on the city increase the odds that their work will be misinterpreted or appropriated. “I see how [Banksy’s] work brings a lot of people to Bethlehem, to see the wall and the city,” Arafah admitted. “But now all the people who come to take photos of the paintings and graffiti…it’s become like Disneyland. Like you are living in a zoo.”
For more information about the Walled Off Hotel — or to book your own stay — visit the venue’s official site.
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