Saturday, August 22, 2015

Banksy's "Dismaland" Bemusement Park at Weston-super-Mare UK: Aug 22 - Sept 27

Somehow topping the monthlong citywide New York exhibit that was Banksy's “Better Out Than In" in Fall of 2013! Making for yet another grand gesture in a career of celebrity (and controversy) for the anonymous artist, this month his largest and most audacious exhibit yet "Dismaland" opens as a “family theme park unsuitable for small children” on the Somerset seafront. Cryptic and shrouded in secrecy during it's construction, local residents were led to believe that the installations being built in a disused former tourist swim center called Tropicana, were part of a film set for a Hollywood crime thriller called "The Grey Fox". Instead when it opened they found themselves with, "Banksy's Dismaland: Amusements and Anarchism in Artist’s Biggest Project Yet" which Banksy has conceived as “A showcase for the best artists I could imagine, apart from the two who turned me down.” as his offering in "the latest addition to our chronic leisure surplus." The map depicting the galleries, rides and subversive installations of "Dismaland: Inside Banksy's Dystopian Theme Park" details the thematic sections featuring works by 58 contributors including Damien Hirst and Jenny Holzer that have been installed across the 2.5-acre site. Another of Mike Ross' massive truck sculptures balances precariously in the air, Julie Burchill has rewritten a 21st Century iteration of Punch & Judy, Darren Cullen has installed a pocket money shop offering loans to children at an interest rate of 5,000% and Jimmy Cauty of British art-pranksters (and notorious money burners) The KLF, presents his contemporary spin on the fantasy village, complete with 3,000 riot police.

Banksy himself creating some 10 new works for the exhibition, including the Cinderella Pumpkin Crash at the centerpiece castle, a grizzly accident with the heroine and horses splayed out and the paparazzi madly snapping away. Other highlights depicted in The Guardian's "A Theme Park Unsuitable for Children" photo essay include a broken down police van with extended escape chute, a model boat pond loaded with corpses and massed crowds of asylum seekers fleeing strife in the Middle East and Africa. To even enter the Dystopic theme park requires going through a cardboard mock-up of airport security, guards insisting that "all squid be left behind". Banksy funded the entirety of the exhibit, with a 4,000 tickets a day limit at the defiantly low cost of £3 each, there is little chance of recouping costs or making a profit over it's 36 day duration. Running until September 27, the bemusement park also plays host of a series of concerts on Friday nights. The music roster including, Sleaford Mods, Peanut Butter Wolf, Kate Tempest, Pussy Riot and Massive Attack by degrees all deal in work that tackles political themes and urban stratification, class frictions, the fallout of globalization and ecological destruction found throughout the park. The show's curator himself interviewing Killer Mike and EL-P for The Guardian, "Banksy meets Run The Jewels: ‘The Bravest Artists have Always been Graf Artists’".