Tuesday, 22 September 2015

A Dismal Sunday Afternoon

A couple of weeks ago, myself and a few others made the trip to Weston-Super-Mare to visit Banksy's latest offering, Dismaland. The title pretty much speaks for itself, of course; full of hilariously ironic gags mixed with harrowing reality.

I have been a fan of Banksy ever since I first saw photos of his paintings on the West Bank barrier in Israel, in a book at my Dad's house around 9 years ago. I'd heard of the infamous graffiti artist here and there in school, but that piece got those cogs in my brain ticking, and moved me without even knowing very much about the Israeli/Palestinian divide at the time.

I love art. Rightly or wrongly, cool-y or uncool-ly, I just love it. I love anything quirky, interesting and meaningful and always scramble to see the latest big exhibitions (Damien Hurst circa 2012 and Chapman Brothers circa 2014, I'm looking at you). As soon as I heard about Banky's latest project, I knew I had to go.

Right as you walk in the tone is set; horrible security guards, truly miserable staff, monotonous Hawaiian-esque music that becomes unsettling after about 20 minutes, it's all there. I even attempted to grab a map as I walked through the door from the most 'dismal' of souls, only to have a bit of a tug of war match before eventually winning one. It was completely hilarious and I continued to chuckle at the staff throughout the day - one of the mini golf attendants couldn't even contain his disdain at a couple of young children, sarcastically clapping as they putted the ball along the battered course. One of the funniest moments I've witnessed EVER. The warped statue of The Little Mermaid, the space caravan and selfie hole provide more amusement as you stroll around the park.

However, amongst all the funny, you're hit with the reality of what is happening here and everywhere. Political and ethical issues smack you right in the face. Ahh, this isn't just a theme park. The themes running through this park are obviously wildly different, designed to shock and protest and they really do force feed food for thought.

I couldn't help but try to pick out who was part of the joke; the woman who barged through the crowd to buy herself an 'I am an imbecile' balloon, the dad who brought his 3 year old in the buggy along to witness the demise of Cinderella... or was it me? Taking photos of genuine Banksy works like a typical tourist.  Had I missed the real point? Either way, it got me thinking and I'm still thinking now. And that's what is so fantastic about Dismaland.

Dismaland is only on for a few more days. If you can, GO. Banksy fan or not, there are some amazing pieces of art to see and you're guaranteed to feel something about what's there. It is so well done.

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