Banksy Launches Full-Scale Theme Park With 'Dismaland'
In the six years since his last major UK art show, Banksy has been busy. After a critically acclaimed documentary chronicling his anonymous art, a trip to New York City, and a slew of new artworks all over the world, the political graffiti artist has become a household name. And now, in a return to his home country, Banksy is opening his new show ‘Dismaland,’ a satirical critique of the family vacation mecca of Disneyland on Friday.
The faux-amusement park is part Disney parody, part concert venue, and part postmodern art show (all for £3!), or as the website proclaims “Dismal Land – a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism.” The line-up for musical performances include big-name politically active acts who run the gamut genre-wise, like Run the Jewels, Pussy Riot, and Massive Attack.
The show, which also features work from Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, and Jimmy Cauty, takes place on the abandoned public swimming spot, Tropicana, in the seaside resort town of Weston-super-Mare outside of Somerset, England. The concept of ‘Dismaland’ has been a recurring theme in Banksy’s work since around 2012, so this project may have been in the works for a few years now. And this isn’t the elusive artist’s first time taking on Disney. In 2006, Banksy placed a life sized model of a Guantanamo detainee in the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
For the past few months, Tropicana, which had previously been abandoned since the early 2000s, has been home to some mysterious construction. Signs outside the shuttered lido read “Crew Notice Grey Fox Productions” to keep the Banksy fans from suspicion and to con locals into thinking a movie was being filmed. However, after weeks without any hint of film cameras and the appearance of Holly Cushing — Banksy’s rumored manager — speculation about a new Banksy piece began surrounding the site.
“Are you looking for an alternative to the sugar-coated tedium of the average family day out?” the website reads. “Or just somewhere a lot cheaper? Then this is the place for you. Bring the whole family to come and enjoy the latest addition to our chronic leisure surplus…”
The "family theme park unsuitable for children" often requires audience participation to complete the art pieces, which are satirical takes on classic amusement park attractions. “A dead princess is only complete when surrounded by gawping crowds with their cameras out,” said Banksy. “Or the opportunity to photograph yourself pulling an amazed expression when a killer whale leaps from a toilet."
With anti-capitalist themes, world renowned artists, and a depressing locale, ‘Dismaland’ really just looks like any other normal family vacation.