The Perfect Timing of Dismaland

Art as Anarchy & Political Commentary

Yesterday while reading Matt Taibbi’s essay, “Inside the GOP Clown Car” in Rolling Stone commenting on the Republican candidates campaigning in Iowa, the opening paragraph captured my attention. “On the campaign trail in Iowa, Donald Trump’s antics have forced the other candidates to get crazy or go home. The thing is, when you actually think about it, it’s not funny. Given what’s at stake, it’s more like the opposite, like the first sign of the collapse of the United States as a global superpower. Twenty years from now, when we’re all living like prehistory hominids and hunting rats with sticks, we’ll probably look back at this moment as the beginning of the end.”

This is the precise moment that across the pond in Weston-super-Mare, an economically-depressed seaside town in the United Kingdom, Bansky — the famous — and infamous — anonymous British street artist and provocateur’s temporary installation opens, a “bemusement park for the 99 percent.”  

Disaster

Photo credit: Christopher Jobson for Colossal

It’s a stunning, thought-provoking, dystopian look at amusement parks — and more disturbing — the state of the world and our future.

Dismaland Brochure

Credit: From the official website: http://dismaland.co.uk/artists/

 

Dismaland will remain open for five weeks only. From the official website it is described as Dismal Land – a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism. It features 58 artists from around the world, in addition to the UK, from the US, Canada, Israel, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Portugal, Lithuania, Finland, Bavaria and Australia. Live entertainment is also offered for those lucky enough to obtain tickets. Headliners include, Run the Jewels, Pussy Riot and Massive Attack. The demand for tickets to enter the park was so great that the website crashed and won’t go up again until Tuesday.

The Dismaland Bemusement Park was constructed on the abandoned site of the Tropicana, which was Europe’s largest outdoor pool and where Bansky frequented as a child.

Logo from the official Dismaland website

Logo from the official Dismaland website

Credit: From the official website: http://dismaland.co.uk/map/

Credit: From the official website: http://dismaland.co.uk/map/

Attractions include:

  • A miniature boating lake containing vessels that brim with gaunt refugees.
  • A classic, Punch & Judy puppet show portraying themes of domestic violence.
  • A pond where you can fish for rubber duckies coated in oil.
  • A ”Museum of Cruel Objects”
  • The Grim Reaper sitting in a bumper car,
  • Paparazzi snapping shots of a deceased Cinderella after a pumpkin-carriage crash
  • A butcher making lasagna out of carousel horses.
  • A killer whale leaping from a toilet into a pool.
  • A big rig art assemblage.
Photo credit: Toby Melville / Reuters

Photo credit: Toby Melville / Reuters

UPDATE: A new trailer for Bansky’s Dismaland was released on Tuesday, 8/25/15.

Circling back to our own dysfunctional dismaland in Wisconsin, one bemusement feature caught my eye, an anti-sitting bench, urban street furniture designed to discourage the elderly, homeless, and young from loitering for too long.

“Made of steel,” the description begins. “Cold in winter, hot in summer. Slippery and buttock-numbing. Discourages long sitting. Arm rest dividers block lying across bench by homeless or tired people.”

Photo credit: Toby Melville / Reuters

Photo credit: Toby Melville / Reuters

After Dismaland closes we will still have our own depressing circus parade of Presidential candidates in clown cars, campaigning across the country here in the US, as candidates from both parties seek their 15 minutes of fame and their share of sound bytes on the evening news and talk shows, handouts from the 1% and corporate private interests in hopes of seeking the nomination of their party. All that’s left to say – is much like Dismaland – the future doesn’t look so bright  in fact, it’s quite depressing, unless we stand up and do something about it, now!  

Credit: Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Credit: Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Cue up the calliope...

Note: All images, copyrights and registered trademarks are credited where possible.

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