Global Street Art: Part One

“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.”
Banksy

I was never a huge fan of graffiti. For the most part, I found it selfish and something of an aesthetic atrocity. But a few years ago, my home town – Dunedin – launched a street art project. This project opened my eyes to the beauty of urban creativity and the important distinction between the construction of street art and the destruction of graffiti tagging.

When I arrived in Madrid, the first destination on my travels around Europe, I was gobsmacked by the way street art dominated the suburbs of the Spanish capital. I had the pleasure of staying in one of the most cosmopolitan neighbourhoods – Lavapiés – and stumbled upon new artwork every day.

My newfound appreciation for this genre was only fuelled during my subsequent month in France; specifically in the capital of Paris. Paris boasted a different flavour of street art – more minimalist, performatory – but still one that I could admire.

Through my lens, I captured the standout pieces I discovered over my two months in Spain and France. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the first edition of my Global Street Art series…

A stunning painted door in my favourite village in Provence, France: Roussillon

Winter is coming… Game of Thrones vibes in Paris

Enjoying the famous mural buildings of Lyon during a French river cruise

A beautiful painting on the side of a building in Madrid’s neighbourhood of Lavapiés

Parisian philosophy

A gorgeous portrait in the French town of Arles in Provence

Quite possibly my favourite graffiti script: I declare war upon this way of dying

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The Bucket List: Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel (Or Why Tourism is Political)

This is the second edition in the Bucket List series, with the first showcasing the Balinese architecture of Villa Ariana Grande. However, what makes this post so special is that what I am about to discuss is worth more than a pretty Instagram picture.

It is only recently that I have begun to take an active interest in politics, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only is it crucial that someone has a reasonable understanding of the political and cultural dynamics when traveling to a different country (in the interests of safety, if nothing else), but following current events and the like provides that extra dimension of appreciation for the context in which one experiences a new place.

The centrepiece of this post is Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know that Banksy is a controversial and political graffiti artist who created the likes of Girl with the Red Balloon and Pulp Fiction. It was only in March 2017 – one month ago at the time of writing – that he opened the hotel.

The Walled Off Hotel is quite literally a work of art. In fact, it’s more of a demonstration than anything. The Walled Off hotel – hence it’s name – is located in Bethlehem opposite the Separation Wall (a wall constructed by Israel to segregate the country from Palestinian territory) and is self-promoted as having “the worst view in the world”.

The Walled Off Hotel has the unique potential to send a political message through it’s geography. According to the Conversation, “… placing an operating hotel on a site where guests can feel the oppression of the wall and experience the surveillance of an Israeli watchtower works to embed visitors in the occupation.” Guests will be subjected to physical confinement, checkpoints and security checks in the hopes of inciting feelings of injustice for those suffering from conflict such as that between Israel and Palestine. Banksy invites guests to subjugate themselves to the tensions of occupation, and his intentions for his latest masterpiece to construct a marriage between tourism and politics are sure to hit the mark.

Banksy’s latest instalment has attracted substantial media attention. Al Jazeera reported that critics accused him of “… making a profit off Palestinian suffering, normalising the occupation (and) beautifying the wall”. However, others applaud Banksy on his critique of the way Western tourists divorce travel from a country’s civil affairs and oppression. As for your opinion…? Well, you’ll just have to decide that for yourself.

If you are thinking about booking a reservation, you may want to act fast; it is likely that the hotel will only be funded for the remaining of 2017. Learn everything you need to know here.

The ‘Deats

Name: The Walled Off Hotel

Creator: Banksy

Location: 182 Caritas Street, Bethlehem, Palestine

Website: www.banksy.co.uk

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