Dateline: Weston-Super-Mare, England, August 24th 2015
Housed on the site old Tropicana swimming lido built in 1937 that once boasted the largest outdoor swimming pool in Europe and which has been unused since 2000 we now have the latest "must see" spectacle in Europe. Described as "a pop-up art exhibition in the form of an apocalyptic theme park," Dismaland (“The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction") that will be open to the public for only five weeks, starting this week.
The teaser trailer for the event is even posted on YouTube:
Dismaland is attributed to fabled, secretive, UK street artist and provocateur Banksy
and has all the hallmark details of a traditional Banksy event from its initial shroud of secrecy to artistic themes of apocalypse, anti-consumerism, and pointed social critiques on celebrity culture, immigration, and law enforcement.
Once inside, you are greeted by a burnt-out ice cream van bidding you "Welcome". Your stunned gaze then is immediately drawn to the familiar looking features of a very well-known fairy-tale castle but which is in an alarming state of ruin and decay.
In front of the castle is an uninvitingly green and polluted-looking moat in the centre of which is a highly recognisable Little Mermaid - except that this one appears to have been the victim of an error in a space-time teleporter..
But it is what lies within the castle interior that is the next big shocker! Just around a darkened corner your suddenly come upon a life-sized tableau of Cinderella's overturned pumpkin coach with the Cinderella hanging lifeless from the door whilst little cartoon birds pull vainly at her ribbons - all surrounded by a host of paparazzi only illuminated by the strobe lights of many flash guns... Just wait - could this actually be our Lady Diana??
Outside again, to the side of the castle is an old police riot water-cannon vehicle that has been turned into a children's amusement water slide.
At every turn you are faced with mind-challenging new displays.
Stinging swipes at the cynical capitalist world abound, some well-justified by any standard...
UK's own smug Prime Minister, David Cameron, is even featured on this fast disappearing billboard...
All stewards in the event have been carefully schooled to make your visit as dismal as possible!
On an outside wall is this delightful piece of street art by Banksy in his typical style.
And this spectacular seagull crush invites you to take a seat!
The majority of the artwork packed into three main interior galleries was created by dozens of other artists. A demented assortment of bizarre and beautiful artworks from no less than 58 global artists including Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Jimmy Cauty, Bill Barminski, Caitlin Cherry, Polly Morgan, Josh Keyes, Mike Ross, David Shrigley, BÄst, and Espo. Banksy is also showing 10 artworks of his own.
(artist list source: http://www.thisiscolossal.com)
This floating beach ball above knives by Damien Hirst.
Look carefully at every piece for the almost hidden 'jolt'...
Some pieces are simply disturbing...
Other tented displays show legitimate political protests that echo the problems of today's global trouble spots.
Here we are treated to a game of 'herd the boat refugees' as bodies floating face down are dotted around the pool...
Protests at pollution in the 'hook a duck' game with the oil-soaked pelican...
And the BP dolphin ride...
And this huge piece of 'artwork' (I'm not sure about the theme park link though...)
Strangely familiar souvenirs can be purchased to remind you of this dismal day... The rat image is a very old Banksy street picture.
And fun balloons... (one immediately went onto eBay for US$100... (I don't know if it sold though).
'Selfie' and photo opportunities abound here you can be a Somalian pirate by putting your face through the openings.
Finally you re-emerge into the damp and dismal rainy day on Weston sea front to see the waiting crowd who will take 2 more hours before it is their turn to be completely dismal...
The end of a thoroughly dismal, but totally thought provoking day! I wonder whether anyone from the Disney Corporation is in that queue?