An anarchy-friendly theme park? A fun day out for the whole family that features book burning, a puppet Jimmy Savile, and political commentary? “Dismaland,” a temporary art installation recently unveiled in the U.K., could only be the work of Banksy, the anonymous street artist whose guerilla artworks frequently sell for six figures at auction despite his best efforts.
Constructed as a decrepit interpretation of the happiest place on earth, and based in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, the “bemusement park,” as it’s called, is ironically billed as “the latest addition to our chronic leisure surplus,” as well as “an art show for the 99 percent.” Dismaland, which opened Thursday, features attractions including a grinning Grim Reaper sitting in a bumper car, paparazzi snapping shots of a deceased Cinderella after a pumpkin-carriage crash, and a butcher making lasagna out of carousel horses.
Audience participation is encouraged: “A dead princess is only complete when surrounded by gawping crowds with their cameras out or the opportunity to photograph yourself pulling an amazed expression when a killer whale leaps from a toilet,” Banksy told the BBC.
Built on the site of an abandoned outdoor swimming facility that the artist frequented as a child, Dismaland features politically charged works by Banksy and 58 other artists, including Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, and Jimmy Cauty, who built a model village swarming with riot police.