I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that Banksy has created a dystopian version of Disneyland. Over the years, the English graffiti artists and political activist has given his fair share of political and social commentary in the form of satirical street art and other eye-opening exhibitions. However, this time Banksy might have outdone himself.
Dismaland is Banksy’s newest exhibition, set in the confines of an old seaside resort in Weston-super-Mare, UK. Don’t let the famous lettering of the park’s entrance gate fool you, Dismaland is not as happy as your favorite mouse’s theme park. The exhibition, which not only features some of Banksy’s art but 50 other artists’ including Damien Hirst and Caitlin Cherry, is running for five weeks, starting tomorrow. It features a bunch of familiar themes from Banksy’s past works including anti-consumerism and anti-corporate messages. The place looks like a product of Walt Disney’s nightmares.
No seriously, somewhere Walt is turning in his grave. Just look at the place…
Looks fun doesn’t it? Yeah I didn’t think so. The park features everything from Cinderella’s castle, which has seen better days, to a mangled looking Ferris Wheel. There’s also a bunch of other little attractions like a creepy little sandbox for the younger crowd and a midway full of your favorite fairground games, although they will most likely be impossible to win, because it’s Dismaland. There’s also statues galore featuring the artwork of a multitude of different artists.
Other notable attractions include a Stallion built from used scaffolding, a cinema displaying a wide range of various short films, a circus tent full of Gothic sculptures, an odd statue of two tankers called the “Big Rig Jig,” and various other scary looking atrocities that you would find at a post-apocalyptic amusement park. Surprisingly, there is no mouse to be found within the dark walls.
In order to gain entry to the park, you have to go through some weird NSA style screenings, which proves to be a hassle. You then quickly get lost in the park’s undeniable allure and dark fantasies. You get so lost that its almost hard to find an exit to leave. Don’t bother asking any of the parks disgruntled employees, because they won’t provide much help at all. They don’t even look they want to be there. Dismaland is a weird place with a shock value that get’s its bleak message across with ferocity.
Perhaps what makes this place more interesting is the blanket of secrecy that was cast over it as Banksy and other artists were hard at work developing the nightmarish park. The place was walled up for a long time with no access granted to any press or the public. The location was toted as being a filming location for a new movie titled “Gray Fox.” It was convincing, but the mystery drove fans to new heights in anticipation.
Dismaland is a fascinating creation that has a lot of bold things to say about not only Disney, but the culture of theme parks and consumerism. I guess it’s only fitting that such a place is going to have performances from Pussy Riot and Massive Attack. Dismaland is probably not the place you would want to take your kids on your next vacation, but it is still definitely worth checking out. I am not super interested in art exhibitions, but this sort of exhibit is something that I would make an effort to see for myself. I wonder if any Disney execs will be making the trip out there? …maybe not…