Would love to start a section on where to find Banksy street art. I know many times it gets taken away, but there are lots out there.
There are tons of Banksys in the Palestinian West Bank, especially in Bethlehem and on the Separation Wall between the West Bank and Israel. The vast majority of Banksy’s graffiti on the wall itself comment on issues of freedom, as well as focusing on the wall as an imposing physical barrier.
In December 2007, he organized a collaboration between himself and fourteen other American and European artists to showcase their annual Christmas art show, dubbed “Santa’s Ghetto,” in Bethlehem’s Manger Square instead of its usual locale in London. This globally-publicized stunt effectively “forced interested art buyers and collectors to see in person how miserably Bethlehem was faring under Israeli occupation.” Through this show, Banksy underscored the obvious connection between Christmas and Bethlehem (as the birthplace of Jesus Christ) as a prime and poignant opportunity to once again showcase the plight of Palestinians with the resulting media attention.
However, in March of 2017, Banksy opened what is perhaps his most interactive artistic ambition yet— the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. An actual, fully-functioning hotel with ten rooms that range from private suites to hostel-style accommodations, the project has been dubbed “a hotel, museum, protest and gallery all in one.” The title itself is a play on the historic Waldorf Hotel in New York City, which is famous for its luxury, as well as the fact that the hotel sits just meters away from the Separation Wall itself. Banksy’s tagline for the Walled Off Hotel is that it “boasts the worst view in the world,” and is an invitation to experience first-hand the misery of the occupation— through Banksy’s carefully curated artistic lens.
Banksy’s original artwork, as well as that of other renowned artists, can be seen all throughout the hotel, from the Lobby Piano Bar to some of the pricier hotel rooms. Connected to the Walled Off Hotel is its art gallery, and the hotel’s website insists that “This space enjoys complete autonomy from the rest of the hotel and is curated by the venerated historian and critic Dr. Housni Alkhateeb Shehada.” According to Shehada, this gallery is the first of its kind in Bethehem. The gallery houses a permanent collection of artworks created by Palestinian artists who engage in a variety of mediums, as well as a space designated for visiting shows.
Another poignant facet of the Walled Off Hotel is its on-site museum, which the hotel’s website calls a “home-made attraction… dedicated solely to the biography of the wall,” complete with exhibits that educate visitors on the history of the region and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Curated in collaboration with Dr. Gavin Grindon, a lecturer in the School of Philosophy and Art History at Essex University, the museum features artifacts such as an Israeli tear gas canister-turned-flower planter, a broken camera from amateur documentary filmmaker Emad Burnet, and a recreation of the signing of the Balfour decoration, in which an animatronic Alfred Balfour perpetually pens the fateful document. The Walled Off website recognizes this museum as “an ongoing repository for local stories, artefacts and testimonies” related to the Israeli Military Occupation.
Unsuprisingly, one of the most popular attractions of Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel is its associated graffiti supply store, dubbed “Wall Mart.” Here, anyone can purchase stencils, graffiti, and other materials with which to “do the Banksy” by making their own artistic mark on the Border Wall. Patrons of the Wall Mart need to step no further than a few feet across the street to spray their artistic messages on the Separation Wall, and indeed, most of them do.
The Walled Off Hotel is certainly controversial. Some Palestinians appreciate Banksy shining a spotlight on issues of the occupation, but there has been some considerable distaste for, if not outright opposition to, the hotel by some Bethlehemites and other Palestinians. The concept of the Walled Off and its graffiti supply store have been accused of “oppression-” or “misery-tourism,” which opportunistically capitalizes off of the suffering of the Palestinian people. This perspective asserts that Banksy’s institution takes money from tourists in order to provide them with a sense of self-satisfaction for painting messages of solidarity with Palestinians suffering under occupation. The hotel’s potential for encouraging or exploiting voyeurism also isn’t lost on some of the more contemplative visitors. It has been acknowledged by many that “Despite Banksy’s stated intention of showing the harsh reality of Palestinian life, the hotel is rather luxurious.” It has also been proposed that the Walled Off “trivializes the Israel-Palestinian conflict by making it a tourist attraction.”
The hotel itself has tried to assuage the legitimate concerns regarding where the profits from its enterprises go. The Walled Off, while Banksy’s creation, is not owned by the artist, but by local businessman Wissam Salsaa. Additionally, according to the hotel website, it is a business staffed by local Palestinians, and assures visitors that all of its profits “will be returned to the community.”
Sorry for the information-dump! I wrote a paper on this topic for grad school. Here are some links about Banksy’s involvement in Bethlehem:
Here’s the Walled Off Website: http://walledoffhotel.com/
You might also be interested in the meme-based graffiti of Australian artist Lushsux, who has also made his mark on the West Bank. But because Lushsux doesn’t have the fame Banksy does, his graffiti is often defaced.
wow… thanks so much for the info… really cool. i was in Bethlehem a few years back. Never got to see these sites though… Lots of amazing grafatti.
In Toronto we have one Banksy tucked away in an alley… now has plexiglass over it .
Thanks for the info… its on my bucket list to see
Honestly not sure if it’s still there (or verified authentic, for that matter), but spotted a Banksy in Park City, Utah in 2015.
Being a Banksy and Google Earth nut I’ve plotted all the known Banksy’s on that so if there is a push for this, I’m happy to help out. You’re right that a lot have gone (probably removed to make someone rich) but there are still some others to be seen.
This is amazing! Thank you so much for the info dump!
There is a collection of privately owned Banksy art in Miami right now. We were there over the holidays. I was set to go until I realized it would cost us almost $200 for our family to see the exhibit. Yeah, NO.
We saw a collection in Amsterdam this summer.
After Hurricane Katrina, he made a collection of 10 pieces in New Orleans. The city started painting over them, not realizing they were his work. I think only 3 remain.