Dismaland just opened so it to is too soon to tell but the general opinion is that Banksy’s show in a decayed amusement park at Weston-Super-Mare in England is not a good experience. Taking a chainsaw to the denizens of Disneyland is an artist preoccupation. Do you still have your sick-up bags from Paul McCarthy’s rape-a-thon WS, (Snow White’s initials reversed) at the Armory New York in 2013 with the feces forest and the human slaughter? It seems that when artists get too big, powerful and wealthy this kind of danse macabre is required show of their clout and bogus IDGAF anti-establishment credentials.
Dismaland may be less gag inducing than WS and when I visit I might even be charmed in a dark cynical way, but even from afar it is rank with ennui and depression. Banksy ties to water this down with simplistic amusing visual puns and knick-knacks like the toilet roll picnic bench.
This comment is from the Economist:
The enchanted Technicolor castle is recast as a dirt-strewn, tumble-down wreck. Inside, Cinderella-cum-Princess-Di hangs head-down from her carriage-window after a crash, while paparazzi with strobes flash the accident-scene. Elsewhere, the grim-reaper dances on a dodgem. Children fish for plastic ducks—in an oil slick—and race with model boats on choppy waters bearing cargoes of dirty refugees (standing room only), their faces as listless as any waiting in line for slaughter. “A different kind of family day out,” writes Banksy, whose actual identity remains a mystery, in his fairground brochure. “The fairytale is over, the world is sleepwalking towards climate catastrophe, and maybe all that escapism will have to wait.”
The grim reaper of The Guardian’s arts page, Jonathan Jones, did not disappoint.
“At least a visit to Dismaland is a real, sustained chance to assess Banksy as an artist. His one-dimensional jokes and polemics lack any poetic feeling. Devoid of ambiguity or mystery, everything he has created here is inert and unengaging. Cinderella dies and no one gives a toss. What a good joke about our time, that one of the most famous critics of the way we live now is nothing more than a media-savvy cultural entrepreneur. The artist’s ‘Bemusement Park’ claims to be making you think, but as an actual experience it is thin, threadbare and, to be honest, quite boring.”
Being the strange medium-specific publication that we are, what CFile noticed was that at least three artists working in ceramics—Ronit Baranga from Israel, Jessica Harrison from Britain and Kate MacDowell from the U.S.—made it to the cut of 60 artists featured in the event and so confirm ceramics’ ubiquity.
However, the way that Dismaland has been publicized, captions make no reference to the individual artist works in photographs unless they are by Banksy (is that policy or just sloppy public relations?) and so spotting anyone’s presence is difficult. Nonetheless Banksy describes his effort as not being anti-Disney just ”a showcase for the best artists I could imagine, apart from the two who turned me down.” Sure, tell that to Cinderella.
We thought that CFile could at least post an early announcement of the trio’s participation (there may be more) and later examine what they have contributed to Banksy’s vision. Whatever contribution they make, they are collectively an interesting choice.
And the closing words are from Jones:
“Only one image held me. It has been a long time since I was thrilled to see a Damien Hirst but among all the half-baked efforts here, Hirst’s gold-framed vitrine containing a unicorn has a true strangeness. It is not preachy or self-righteous. Nor is its fascination easily explained. It is a real fairground attraction, freakish and bizarre. Dismaland needs a few more unicorns. So does Weston-super-Mare. So do we all.”
Garth Clark is the Chief Editor of CFile.
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