By: Katrina Gross ~Staff Writer~
Anonymous contemporary artist Banksy recently opened an attraction in the United Kingdom that is unlike any other art exhibit in recent history, set in the seafront town of Weston-super-Mare. The exhibition has been described as a “bemusement” park featuring art designed by Banksy and others that is viewed as a critique of current societal norms. The park, appropriately named “Dismaland,” was open for a brief five weeks from Aug. 22 to Sept. 27, but this was still long enough to raise almost $31million in tourism revenue for the town.
The park could hold approximately 4,500 visitors at one time, and the main source of advertising was social media posts by both visitors and Banksy fans. The park featured a range of attractions for viewing, from a giant rainbow pinwheel covered in plastic to a massive and dilapidated castle designed to look extremely similar to Cinderella’s castle in Disneyworld. The park even included some interactive exhibits, such as a carousel and impossibly difficult carnival games like “knock down the anvil with a ping pong ball.”
This attraction was surrounded by secrecy during its construction, similar to the majority of Banksy’s art. However, this piece was unique from his other work because it featured the art of about a dozen other contemporary artists including Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Mike Ross and Espo, among others. All the art featured reflected Banksy’s themes of the apocalypse, anti-consumerism and crtiques of celebrity culture, law enforcement and immigration.
Banksy’s “Dismaland” was a unique piece unlike any in the past, and the attention and popularity it gained despite its brief exhibition period is huge. Whether or not the success of “Dismaland” will encourage other artists to do something similar, and whether large-scale art exhibitions critiquing society will become more popular depends on the reception Banksy and his featured artists receive from their exhibition .