Banksy’s take on the refugee crisis went for 2,235,000 GBP including buyer’s premium at Sotheby’s “Rembrandt to Richter” auction, which was more than double the initial estimate. The selling party was ABCD Bethlehem – a Palestinian charity, after receiving the piece as a donation from Banksy. The information sheet for the lot continues: “All proceeds will go towards building a new acute stroke unit and purchasing children’s rehabilitation equipment for BASR hospital in Bethlehem.”
The triptych has been on display at Walled Off Hotel since the opening in March 2017. Due to the corona situation, the hotel remains closed until further notice. The question is whether the hotel will open again or if the sale marks the beginning of the end for the iconic hotel. Hopefully not. See previous post: The Walled Off Hotel. Palestine, March 2017.
Pictures of the new piece were posted on 1 February on several independent Instagram accounts.
Photos: @francas on Instagram
Walled Off Hotel opened almost two years ago in Bethlehem, only six kilometers south of downtown Jerusalem, but on the other side of the wall. The hotel is a piece of art in itself and at the same time a huge political statement, all mixed with Banksy’s usual charm and wit. A visit is highly recommendable. See previous post: The Walled Off Hotel. Palestine, March 2017.
In Banksy’s own words, as announced 3 November 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. We’ll be at Palestine stand giving away free stuff, World Travel Fair, London Excel centre 6th and 7th November. Free to get in if you register online today and pretend to be a travel agent.”
A few days later a new poster was announced. In Banksy’s own words:
“Free Palestine poster. Be advised we only have 1000 posters to hand out each day at the tourist fair. You can download one from the website at http://www.banksy.co.uk “
The “we” pronoun in Banksy’s Instagram text was represented by Walled Off Hotel manager Wissam Salsaa handing out the posters personally.
Today’s Financial Times has an extensive feature on Banksy and his relation with Palestine. The interview is made via e-mail by Jan Dalley, the FT’s arts editor. Comes with a new Banksy drawing of the three wise men. The link: Banksy goes to Bethlehem
The documentary about the performance will be screened on BBC Two on Sunday 17 December at 9 PM, and is said to follow Boyle overcoming the “many restrictions” to find a cast, crew and local children, and put together the show in six weeks.
The performance took place on 3 December and was co-directed by Bethlehem-based Riham Isaac. Another video shows local children singing in Arabic while rehearsing.
Banksy created a promotional image for the documentary showing a drone watching over the nativity scene. (Source: BBC)
British artist James Ame, a.k.a Ame72, was caught on photo in early December by a British tourist outside the Milk Grotto chapel in Bethlehem, in front of a recently confirmed artwork by Banksy. Mr Ame is holding a spray can and part of a stencil which seems to fit with the star in the artwork.
James Ame participated in an exhibition curated by Steve Lazarides, in Herzliya Marina in Tel Aviv in March 2017, the same month that Walled Off Hotel opened in Bethlehem just 80 km from Tel Aviv. Steve Lazarides is Banksy’s former agent. According to James Ame’s website – http://www.ame72.com – he also participated in The Cans Festival in London, the collective street art exhibition organized by Banksy in May 2008. A publicity stunt by Steve L, or, is James Ame a member of the Banksy street art crew?
On 3 December there were two street art pieces unveiled. The first one depicts two angels trying to open up the Segregation Wall with a crowbar. Supposedly it was painted some days ago but hidden from the public eye with a banner. The second one is a text-based stencil with a sharp message in the center of Bethlehem.
Both are yet to be confirmed by banksy.co.uk or his Instagram account. According to well-informed sources, they are authentic.
The Balfour Declaration was signed on 2 November 1917 by the British government announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a minority Jewish population. It read:
His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
Banksy commemorated the Balfour declaration with an apology on the segregation wall a few meters from his Walled Off Hotel, and a small ceremony with a Queen Elizabeth impersonator.
An official statement from Banksy read:
“This conflict has brought so much suffering to people on all sides – it didn’t feel appropriate to ‘celebrate’ the British role. The British didn’t handle things well here. When you organise a wedding,” referring to the promise of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine, “it’s best to make sure the bride isn’t already married.”
Inside the Walled Off Hotel, there is a truly brilliant and interesting museum on the situation created by the Balfour declaration, curated by the Banksy team together with Dr Gavin Grindon from Essex University.