A new theme park unlike any before opened this August. A large pond in the centre of it with a misshapen Ariel and dirty water, this dark theme park had many people from around the area curious. Some thought that it was being built for a film, but information was released online on the 20th of August what was really going on – it was street artist, Banksy’s, latest art show. Open for just five weeks and located on the seafront at Weston’s Tropicana, the artist himself has said that the theme park, Dismaland – Bemusement Park, is “an art show for the 99% who’d rather be at Alton Towers.”
This dystopian theme park has many eye-catching features. There’s an old riot van commissioned for the streets of Northern Ireland half submerged in a swimming pool, a crumbling fairytale castle standing in the centre, two ballet-performing juggernauts, and more. Along with this, you can find a lot of Banksy’s typical wall graffiti art as well as some never before seen satirical art pieces of his. This isn’t a solo project of his, though. Other artists who have pieces in the park include American neo-conceptual artist, Jenny Holzer, and Ed Hall, a pensioner who has spent the last 40 years producing every major trade union banner from his garden shed. There is also a rewritten Punch and Judy show by Julie Burchill, one of Britain’s most controversial and famous journalists.
On the exhibition’s brochure the park is described as “The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction”. It is a massive project to undertake, with many other people involved; so what is Banksy’s goal with it? In an Irish Times article on the park, Banksy said “I guess you’d say it’s a theme park whose big theme is — theme parks should have bigger themes.” Could this be a dig at Disney now building a Marvel themed section in one of their parks? That by taking on the comic book company they are merely being money-grabbing and not remembering the message of Walt Disney? Banksy is doing exactly what he always does with his art – he’s making you think.
Words by Thom Meighan, Arts Writer