Dismaland: The eeriest place on earth

Posted on Aug 26 2015 - 11:23am by Samantha Clark
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I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Banksy has a new exhibition.

Until last Monday (17th) no-one knew of or had anticipated a new Banksy exhibition, we’ve not heard anything since the 2009 Banksy versus Bristol Museum show. Yet when reports broke out that a second exhibition was within days of opening the internet went into meltdown.

The newest attraction Dismaland, was being created under the guise of a Hollywood blockbuster being recorded. No-one had suspected it could be anything different, until unusual sculptures that could be seen over the vacant buildings walls was it questioned by reporters as something much more.

The latest exhibition, which is housed at the derelict site of the old Tropicanan in Weston super Mare, an area local to Banksy’s suspected upbringing, is a collection of pieces from artists from across the world under the Dismaland Ltd company, a two-finger salute to the Disneyland corporation. An interactive ‘bemusement park’ , Dismaland is the park that shocks you, makes you think and have a few laughs.

It’s no ordinary artist exhibit; you’ll find sculptures, ride-ons, paintings, models, interactive experiences, shows and much much more. At £3 a ticket you’ll get so much for your money and don’t forget to check your change, you may take home more than you expected!

Not only has Banksy brought this one-off, once in a lifetime experience to a local town which was in dire need of resurrection, he has also brought along a host of famous names with him. On each Friday the exhibit is in town, you’ll find a range of live events from local bands to well known comedians and international music groups for what is perceived as a cost of £15 per ticket- these will be the ones to snap up, if you can ever get on the site to purchase any tickets at all.

With huge celebrities such as Jack Black paying a visit to this world renowned show, it’s one not to be missed.

My view:

As a local, we jumped at the chance to be one of the first to see this exhibit having loved his 2009 collection. It entailed getting in line at 7:15am and queuing for 2 hours in the hope of being one of the 1,000 lucky locals- thankfully we were!

It’s pretty hard not to be gleeful when you turn up knowing that for the six weeks the bemusement park is in town, it’s going to be in high demand (for his last exhibit we queued for around 4 hours) and an experience like no other. We were not disappointed. As an interactive exhibition, your experience is so very different to what you expect at Disney (obviously the point), the staff look bored, are unhelpful and like to make things a little difficult (little is the key word, it is art after all not a nightmare).

Banksy has long been known as an artist that shocks. In particular, I found the Cinderella exhibit and the Mediterranean ‘boat ride’ attractions particularly startling. It’s hard not to feel when at an exhibit like this when current events are the way they are and social media drives them home further- no longer do we live in a perceived bubble without a clue to what is going on externally, no matter how hard we try and shelter ourselves and children from it. An exhibition like Banksy’s questions our personal norms and considers what we would naturally assume is right vs wrong.

What’s tough about an exhibit like this is it’s hard not to enjoy what you see. It’s difficult not to be mesmerised by the efforts and talents of the artists without feeling guilty for the underlying meaning of the piece. Take for example Jimmy Cauty’s miniature ‘village’ there are elements of ‘fun’ about it- you’ve police officers taking selfies, going to Burger King, going down slides etc. but the overall picture is of a post-apocalyptic society where they are the only survivors and they’re dossing around, it’s not something you should be looking at and enjoying because of the meaning yet it’s difficult to see these police officers ridiculous behaviours and not find it amusing. The post-apocalyptic Disney pieces were something I could see myself having at home; the contrast of colour, the mix of positivity that the Disney corporation inhabits with the seriousness of what’s happened to the world around yet your attention remains and focuses on the bright colours and ‘happiness’ of it.

I hope that, as a local, this exhibit puts pressure on the local authorities to re-develop this wasted site. Although not totally Banksy’s objective, I am sure it’ll seem a wasted effort if it were to go back to its wasted, crumbling state- on this note, it’s ever so fitting to the overall dismal experience and it’s pretty hard not to feel angry and saddened that it was allowed to get into this state in the first place.

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