Wish you weren’t here…Banksy’s bemusement park packs a political punch…
Unlike everyone else in Bristol, I wasn’t one of those people frantically refreshing my browser trying to buy tickets for Dismaland, but I was lucky enough to be invited by a friend who had some spare tickets and thought ‘hey, what’s the worst that could happen?!’ My question was soon answered when I arrived and was searched by the guards for smiling too much! It was totally mortifying, which I guess was kind of the point.
Every corner of Dismaland held a new, often horrifying surprise. It was nightmarish and hilarious in equal measure. One of the parts that disturbed me the most was the boat game involving refugees (shown below) where visitors could pay 50p to drive the boats around, crashing them into each other and sending the police boat racing after them. The “message” behind the work hits you around the head on first sight, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how I’d feel when I heard visitors whooping and shouting ‘yeah, go home f**kers!’ Clearly they were being ironic, but it was still quite shocking.
Dismaland has been amazing for Weston – as someone who visits regularly, I’ve never seen so many people gathered on the seafront in one go. What was amazing was that you’d probably never see any of these people in an art gallery on a Friday night, and yet loads of them were there enjoying the experience and discussing the work. While some of the puns may have been obvious and the political agenda hits you on the head with a sledgehammer, it was relevant and exciting and got people enthused, which in my book can only be a good thing.
Far from being dismal, Dismaland was an eye-popping, passion-stirring event which brought people from all walks of life together, if only for a short time.