Dismaland: Banksy’s authentic face of sarcastic rebellion
What do we think about Banksy’s Dismaland theme park in Western-Super-Mare’s Tropicana.? So edgy is it that before the great unwashed were allowed inside, there was a private party for stars and the rich who collect his work. Jack Black was there. Glastonbury Festival adminstrator Emily Eavis was there. Actor Nicholas Hoult was there.
You see. Edgy.
The brochure invites paying visitors (using actual coin of the realm and not Mickey Mouse money):
Are you looking for an alternative to the soulless sugar-coated banality of the average family day out?
Well keep looking, Average Family. Stay in the rain-mortared car and have a row.
Or just somewhere cheaper. Then this is the place for you—a chaotic new world where you can escape from mindless escapism. Instead of a burger stall, we have a museum. In place of a gift shop we have a library, well, we have a gift shop as well.
Bring the whole family to come and enjoy the latest addition to our chronic leisure surplus—a bemusement park. A theme park who’s big theme is: theme parks should have bigger themes…
They do. Banksy assures use that the big theme at Disney is globalism, free markets, capitalism, cheap travel, cheap protein and feminism- the princesses are always the stars. Disney also liked atomic bombs. How’s that for edgy? Walt sees your dystopian wasteland, Banksy, and raises you millions dead and nothingness.
This event contains adult themes, distressing imagery, extended use of strobe lighting, smoke effects and swearing. The following items are strictly prohibited: knives, spraycans, illegal drugs, and lawyers from the Walt Disney corporation.
Probably because soulless lawyers for Walt Disney’s would find this vision of Hell a welcome escape from the contents of the evil in their own heads.
It’s the authentic face of anti-consumerism as the London Dungeon is the authentic face of torture.
Richard Jobson has been:
In addition to art you’ll also find functional a terrifying carousel, a mini golf park, a ferris wheel, and some ludicrously impossible fair games (like ‘topple the anvil with a ping pong ball’ by David Shrigley), roving occupy protests, and a Star Wars stormtrooper who sulks around the exhibition in a state of complete misery. The park is staffed by morose Dismaland employees who are uninterested in being helpful or remotely informative. Entrance to the event requires an uncomfortably awkward NSA-esque security screening, and of course you get to exit through the gift shop.Entrance to the event requires an uncomfortably awkward NSA-esque security screening, and of course you get to exit through the gift shop.
Brendan O’Neill writes:
Banksy has made a deathly Disneyland to mock our crass consumer tastes and the ease with which we can be distracted from important issues (like the MIGRANT CRISIS) by a few crumbs of crap leisure. As one of the numerous ecstatic media reviewers said — favourably — Dismaland is a reminder that ‘our fellow humans are a sham’…
Banksy is wildly successful because he regurgitates in sixth-former-style cynicism the prejudices of the chattering class: their agitation with the blob; their loathing for the little people’s material desires; their hatred of the super-rich; their concern for nature and its beasts if evil mankind doesn’t halt his destructive ways. A searing critic of capitalism? Please. Banksy is modern capitalism’s loss of faith in itself made flesh.
Waldemar Januszczak finds it “entertaining“:
The first thing you see when you walk in is a battered old television set on which the Disney film is about to come to an end. Cinderella has been to the ball. She has met her prince. He has tracked her down with the glass slipper. They are about to live happily ever after.
‘Entry-level anarchism’ in action
But wait. What is that light flashing on and off in the darkness beyond? Oh no. There has been a terrible accident. Cinderella’s coach has crashed, and some life-sized police have turned up to investigate. There is a body hanging out of the door. It is Cinderella. And is it just me, or does she not suddenly look a bit like Lady Di?
Using the language and methods popularised in theme parks, Banksy has built a full-scale alternative to Disneyland in which every ride, game and exhibit sets out to question not just the purpose of theme parks but also the crumbling, grotty state of modern Britain.
Works by 58 handpicked artists including Damien Hirst and Jenny Holzer have been installed across the 2.5-acre site. Julie Burchill has rewritten Punch & Judy to give it a Jimmy Savile spin. Jimmy Cauty, once part of the KLF, is displaying his version of a fun model village complete with 3,000 riot police in the aftermath of major civil unrest.
In one tent would-be anarchists can find out how to unlock the Adshel posters seen at bus stops. For £5 people can buy the tools to break into them, replacing the official posters with any propaganda they please. Is it legal? “It’s not illegal,” said the vendor…
Across the way is a “pocket money loans” shop offering money to children at an interest rate of 5,000%. In front of its counter is a small trampet so children can bounce up to read the outrageous small print drawn up by artist Darren Cullen.
Cullen said he had met so many people taking out payday loans who were well aware of how ridiculous the payback was. “As the welfare state is retreating the market is filling the gap in a really predatory way. People are being saddled with insane amount of debt for years.”
Like other artists involved, he has never met Banksy, but he was delighted to be part of the show.
“This place is brilliant. I only knew the minimum amount before I got here,” he said, “but it is so cool. It is just amazing having this much sarcasm in one place.”
And for £3 – the price of a ride on a fairground Dodgem – for teenagers bored with everything it’s worth a visit. Mums and dads, aka ‘the idiots’, it might be a tad dull.