Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel holds contest for Palestinian artists

PNN/ Bethlehem/

An art competition showcasing young Palestinian talent was held yesterday at the walled off hotel gallery in Bethlehem. Locals and foreign visitors came to see the work, forming an important platform for the painters.

“The aim of the competition is to encourage more Palestinians to have a taste of art” said Wisam Salsa’, the manager of the walled off hotel. “Unfortunately, art is not something of great importance to many Palestinians, but this exhibition will encourage people to have a taste of art. Many people here may have never been to an art gallery before, and by allowing them to vote on their favorite, they are interacting with the art,” he a

“The theme of the exhibition is “future” and as you can see, the paintings are all quite dark and sad,”Salsa’ said. “I think that reflects the reality of the occupation, and I think it is important that our international visitors see this.”

Rami, one of the painters, expressed how important the exhibition was to him: “Opportunities like this are not common in Palestine. I am surprised by the diversity of the audience: not everyone here is an art expert, and I think the high quality of the pieces shows people that Palestinians have talent.”

Georgina, a local who had come to see the art, explained how powerful it was to see art done by Palestinians: “This is much better than throwing rocks, it’s smart. Some are hopeful, some are painful, but I can relate to every single one, they represent all the things that you don’t want to think about but are subconsciously there. And I think it is very important for guests to see the occupation from a different angle, it will make them go away and want to research more.”

The competition’s results will be announced on 2nd August. The first prize winner will receive 3,000 USD, second place 2,000 USD and third place 1,000 USD. The paintings will also be on sale in the gallery.