London’s World Travel Market — which ran from November 5th-7th — finished up today. Which means it was your last chance to check out Banksy’s newest art piece. In a post on his Instagram, the artist encouraged his fans to come by.
“We’ll be at the 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.”
The World Travel Market is generally attended by travel industry professionals, so finding a world-renowned artist hanging there isn’t exactly a common occurrence. Banksy offered some free swag and unveiled his newest art piece — a replica separation barrier — referencing Banksy’s ties to the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem.
The art piece contains two cherubs, meant to signify Israel and Palestine and uses a graffitied replica of the separation barrier as its canvas. If recent Banksy stunts are any indication, the piece will probably be worth millions. The latest work has all the hallmarks of a classic Banksy — it’s grim, witty, and multilayered. Calling attention to the conflict without bashing the viewer over the head with sentimentality.
There’s a lot of history to unpack here. The diving wall between the West Bank and Israel has been the canvas for some of the artist’s most iconic works.
Banksy also remains involved with The Walled Off Hotel, an actual hotel property currently accepting reservations, which he financed and partly designed. The property is mere steps away from the wall that divides Israel from the Palestinian West Bank. Every window at the Walled Off (a tongue-in-cheek play on Waldorf; classic Banksy wit) faces the separation barrier. But despite its grim view, it has succeeded in attracting tourists to Palestine. The hotel is also home to a museum, a graffiti gift shop, and the largest art gallery in Palestine.
Point being: Banksy has supported Palestinian travel for a long while now and he knows that infusing the West Bank with tourist dollars is an easy way to help. To do that, he seems all too happy to lean on his own celebrity. Despite being one of the smallest at the event, the Palestine booth at the World Travel Market has been packed with hundreds of people waiting in line to catch a glimpse of the artist or his work. This is clearly the intended effect and a huge win for all of those hoping to support the people living in the Palestinian territories.