Banksy's now-defunct anti-amusement park art installation, aptly-named Dismaland.


Walk into an abandoned seaside resort in a town 18 miles South-west of Bristol, and you might find something a bit disturbing—or, you might have, during the run of Banksy's now-defunct anti-amusement park art installation, aptly-named Dismaland. Inside the park, you can find parodies of all those things that we found joy in as children, such as a deteriorating building reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty's famous castle in Disneyland, or a sad-looking park employee wearing mouse ears and holding a dozen sad, black balloons. If you were so inclined, you might have contemplated the philosophical implications of your own vanity and taken a picture of yourself at the “selfie hole,” probably a reference to less innocent holes that adorn the walls of seedy public men's bathrooms. You might have visited an interesting park bench and sat next to a woman being attacked by a swarm of crazed seagulls bent on stripping her of her lunch and her dignity. You might have strolled by a few disturbing carnival games or, a little more on the “normal” side of things, watched an entertaining comedy show after sundown. Banksy offered the park as “entry-level anarchism” for those who wished to visit it.

Of course, if this whole sick, twisted look at our consumerist culture isn't your sort of thing, maybe you were lucky to have missed this event, which was open for merely 5 weeks, between August 21st and September 27th, 2015. Tickets were sold for £3 a piece, and 4,000 patrons were allowed to enter per day, resulting in over 150,000 people visiting the park by the end of its run. The set, which included many different works by 58 different artists (and ten works created by Banksy himself), including the artists Damien Hirst , Jenny Holzer, and Jimmy Cauty, was rich with interesting and challenging installations, sculptures, and graffiti art. Of particular note, was the piece Horse Scaffolding Sculpture by Ben Long, and Big Rig Jig by Mike Ross, which had also been on display in 2007's Burning Man.

The general theme of this pop-up art installation, which had been built in secret before being unveiled, was a stab at Capitalist culture, and in particular the princess-and-pixie-dust fantasy world that was built by the likes of Disney in order to make money by appealing to families and children. Dismaland, by contrast, is explicitly not meant to be viewed by children, according to Banksy himself, and is meant to be a disturbing criticism of consumerism that offers a satirical view at superficial tourism. Ironically, the town of Weston-super-Mare, where the installation was built, benefited greatly from tourism revenue during the time when the theme park was open.

The event drew generally good reception from the masses, and many celebrities flocked to the theme park once it was open. Critics, on the other hand, were more divided. Some of them saw the satire of the park be simply “too easy,” while others found it to be too depressing. Still others found the art on display to be simply bad.

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