Art comes to the Israeli-occupied West Banksy
Secretive artist unveils the ‘Scar of Bethlehem’ with chiseled pockmarks
Illustrations by street artist Banksy are pictured in his Walled-Off hotel in the Israeli occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem.
Photo: AFP / Ahmad Gharabli
A manger scene juxtaposed against concrete blocks is seemingly pierced by a mortar shell. For the Christmas season, the latest Bethlehem offering by secretive British artist Banksy has appeared in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Dubbed the Scar of Bethlehem, the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph are backlit through damaged concrete, chiseled pockmarks exploding out from a gaping hole in four directions to approximate the Christmas Star.
The work is installed at Banksy’s Walled-Off Hotel, where all rooms overlook a concrete section of the barrier built by Israel to cut off the occupied West Bank from Israeli territory.
“Love” and “Peace” are respectively graffiti-tagged in English and French on the art installation’s concrete blocks, while three large wrapped presents are at the forefront of the scene.
“It is a nativity,” the hotel’s manager Wissam Salsaa said after the piece was installed. “Banksy has his own contribution to Christmas.”
“It is a great way to bring up the story of Bethlehem, the Christmas story, in a different way – to make people think more” of how Palestinians live in Bethlehem,” Salsaa added.
Like elsewhere in the world, Banksy’s works in the occupied territory have become tourist attractions – in part due to him often ghosting in to create his art in the dead of night. The identity of the world’s best-known graffiti artist remains a mystery and he was not present during the revealing of his latest work.
“Banksy is trying to be a voice for those that cannot speak,” Salsaa said.