Guessing Banksy’s next move has never been easy, but even his most devout followers would have struggled to anticipate his latest work.
In what the artist has described as a “family theme park unsuitable for children”, Banksy has taken over a derelict 2.5-acre seafront site in Weston-super-Mare. Shrouded in secrecy right up until the last minute and with a name that riffs on Disney’s famous attractions, Dismaland: Bemusement Park is his most ambitious – and some might say horrifying – project so far.
The five-week exhibition features 18 attractions and a raft of well-known artists, including Damien Hirst, David Shrigley, Jenny Holzer and James Joyce. Visitors will be greeted by glum staff who will usher them towards a range of installations designed not to brighten up anyone’s summer.
This includes a cinema, with no seats provided, and a Punch and Judy show by Julie Burchill with references to Jimmy Saville and Fifty Shades of Grey. Nettie Wakefield meanwhile will be producing pencil-drawn portraits – but only of the back of visitors’ heads. There is also the opportunity to step inside Cinderella’s Castle and – according to the park’s info guide – the opportunity to “see how it feels to be a real princess”. The omens are not good.
There is anticipation that Dismaland will attract large crowds to the site. When Banksy’s last UK show opened in 2009 at Bristol City Museum, more than 300,000 visited during its 12 weeks. With only 4000 tickets available for his latest show, it’s possible that the majority of people without likely to be dismayed without even entering the park.
Dismaland will be open to the public everyday from 22 August until 27 September, 11am-11pm. Tickets go on sale from 21 August from the event website.
More on a-n.co.uk:
Banksy’s Dismaland: complex experience that invites us to investigate a world in chaos – Laura Harris takes a trip to Weston-super-Mare and is impressed by the ‘bemusement park’ experience