The elusive Banksy was in attendance at London’s annual World Travel Market this week, where he created a replica of the separation barrier— the 400-mile wall built along the West Bank— attracting crowds of people to the Palestine tourist stand where it was on display. Though the Palestine stall was one of the smallest at London’s Excel Centre, it had hundreds of people queuing up to get a glimpse of the art work, which depicted two angels facing off.
The anonymous street artist wrote on Instagram: “Opening my first-ever stall at a trade fair next week. I’ve painted a replica separation barrier to promote The Walled Off hotel, ironically the neighbours have complained it’s too tall.” He coyly went on to urge his 5 million followers to pretend to be a travel agent so they could attend the event for free. Additionally, the Bristol-based artist was handing out special, limited “Free Palestine” posters to visitors on a first come, first serve basis. “Be advised we only have 1,000 posters to hand out each day at the tourist fair,” he wrote, adding that they were available to download from his official website for those who didn’t get a chance to swipe one.
It’s not the first time the famed street artist has used his art to shed light on the Palestine conflict. In fact, the replica separation barrier was created with the aim of promoting the Walled Off Hotel, a nine-room lodging situated along the West Bank, and sells itself on having “the worst view in the world” (every room looks out onto the separation wall.) In addition to being an accommodation, the Walled Off Hotel also comprises a gallery, a bookstore, graffiti shop, and a museum filled with protest signs. With the price of rooms ranging from US $60 per night for a bunk bed to US $450 for the Presidential Suite, the hotel-cum-political-statement has succeeded in boosting tourism to Palestine.
Anonymous street artist Banksy is known for his public stunts — in the past, he’s managed to mount his own art pieces in a museum for several days undetected, sneak in an inflatable doll dressed like a Guantanamo Bay detainment camp prisoner into Disneyland, and sell a self-destructing artwork for US $1.4 million at an auction last month.