Let’s step back to that time that Banksy created a sort of grotesque funfair to showcase the absurd monstrosities of contemporary society and where the souvenirs were balloons with words “I am an imbecile”
This crazy world of ours has seen this as well – the temporary realization of the most distressing playground on the planet. In 2015, in Weston-super-Mare on the coast of Somerset near Bristol, England, from August 21st to September 27th, the street artist Banksy promoted the creation of a truly original park, a parody of Disneyland and the place of fake happiness. The park was not the world of Walt Disney, but rather the dismal expression of all those different facets of life that are gloomy, dark but also painful and obscene. These are the parts of life that are falling to pieces.
At the entrance there were fake security checks, mimicking those of Disneyland, yet in a dark key, with a fake blood stain next to the metal detector, as if someone had been killed there. False agents then pretended to carry out these checks, but the rudeness of their ways was quite real.
Once beyond security, you entered a clearing where a fairy-tale castle loomed in the distance, albeit crumbling, preceded by the statue of the Little Mermaid Ariel, folded over and distorted as if she were the result of a bad download. Besides a cheerful green children’s slide, there was an armoured police van overturned in a muddy pond.
The victim of an accident is Cinderella’s carriage which, half-demolished and upside down, is illuminated by the livid light of the flashes of the photos taken by the statues of paparazzi that surround it. The scene is surreal, the shattered fable is an explicit reference to Lady Diana’s death.
Do you remember those remote-controlled boats children played with? In Dismaland, for a coin you could experience that once again, however with boats of migrants that you have to steer among floating corpses. It was certainly not a place for children. At the entrance, there was the statement that the park’s themes were suitable for an adult-only audience.
In addition to Banksy, around 50 world-famous artists collaborated in the park, such as Damien Hirst or Ronit Baranga from Israel, whose famous anthropomorphic ceramics were on display. These porcelain pieces arise from a nightmare with erotic nuances – cups and teapots with fingers that seem to make them walk on the table, and plates from which mouths or fingers protrude, caressing mouths.
Hirst was present with two works: The Fragility of Love, a huge balloon held suspended in the air by blowing air, on a forest of knives; and, The Child’s Dream, a unicorn immersed in formaldehyde.
The Giant Pin Wheel, a sand castle with a giant coloured pinwheel on top, left visitor’s smiling, a statement on the speculation of alternative energy. A sign warned that the fan was used to supply the park with energy, but at the time it could only recharge two cell phones.
Today there is a lot of talk about Street Art, and Banksy is the most popular artist. Known around the world for his murals, which appear a bit of everywhere in Europe, this artist is strongly critical of modern society, paired with the secrecy with which he hides his identity. However, what defines his art is the ability to shatter commonplaces, rip the veil of hypocrisies, and ridicule the useless protocols of a society that judges others without stopping to look in the mirror.
Suffice to say, the park itself was set up in the utmost secrecy in the area of a beach closed in 2010. The works for the construction of the structure were justified by simulating the creation of a film set, and in order for the lie to be more credible, the local population was invited to participate in casting selections.
The park was a success, in just a few weeks 150,000 visitors brought a profit of 20 million pounds to the municipality. The promotional video showed a happy family with children going to the park, however the background voice said, “it is a place like no other, a nightmare in which they will fall and from which they come out battered and wounded”.
Obviously, criticism did not take long to arrive. Although the basic idea was to condemn the distortions of society, to many it seemed to actually feed people’s taste for the macabre and horrific. And what if this reversal of perspectives instead of shaking indifference creates a sort of complicity?
In short, we are presented with the same old question: is it always true that demand determines supply, or is the opposite sometimes also true?
Anna Maria Calabretta