Deep down in rural England, at the edge of a small county called North Somerset, where you face the Sea between England and Ireland…there is a small town called Weston Super-Mare.
Without exaggerating this time, this place is only half an hour from Bristol and this is not a beginning of a fairy tale that will cause a hype for all Disney fans. On the contrary, this is a story about another Hype. Following my report about “the Banksy effect” describing the impact of street art scene in Bristol here comes another tribute to Banksy’s massive success.
Weston Super-Mare is known as a little seaside resort with a long sandy beach, an aquarium and the seasonal wheel of Weston. Our dear Banksy chose this place for one of his newest and perhaps biggest projects ever: Dismaland. Yes, you heard correctly it was not meant to be an Amusement Theme Park, but rather an Bemusement Park and it only has only be there for 5 weeks in 2015.
Once more Banksy excels his self with this dystopian construction of art. The whole park was meant to criticise societies values and as a metaphor pinky, glittery Disneyland was miss-used. Banksy himself described Dismaland as a "family theme park unsuitable for children."
The Park even included a dingy looking Disney-like castle, a terrifying carousel, a mini golf park, a ferris wheel. There have also been three main interior galleries presenting paintworks and installations of 58 global artists. Banksy invited them individually to have their pieces exhibited in his great project. Few of them rejected this honouring offer. Banksy is also showing 10 artworks of his own.
Only a few minutes after tickets were released they have been completely sold out. Luckily I managed to get some but even then queuing for about two hours was expected before entering. Going through a fake “safety-check” with detectors made of cardboard and staff that was generally un-helpful and terribly miserable I was welcomed to this delightful park. With a lot of love for details the organisers created an apocalyptic atmosphere and managed to make me and other visitors chuckle but also think about our consumeristic and possibly egoistic society.
For quite a while I sat down in front of a screen whish was showing a program of 24 short films day and night as an outdoor cinema. All of them counted as artworks to me too as they where surely stimulating inner debates in my head with topics like war, daily consumption, hierarchy and the government.
I had to walk through one of the galleries twice and still stared at some pictures or sculptures as if they were completely new to me.
Visiting this mid-blowing place arranged by the genius Banksy was a great experience and I have noticed that there are a few people envying me for this. Unfortunately the project was only temporary. However, Banksy decided to not just simply build everything back leaving Weston Super-Mares Beach blank again. He also donated all of the materials used to keep constructions and buildings to the refugee camps in Calais. This donation makes visible that this artist is not only criticising systems he actually tries to change something.
Unlike Disneyland it was not made for profit and not for showing a perfect fairy tale world. Although we can not admire this Bemusement Park anymore, we know that the project is now helping people in crisis. Despite bemusing us, Banksy, you also showed us how to be generous.