I have probably missed the best timing for publishing the photos from Banksy’s Dismaland which I visited in the beginning of September with my boyfriend Ivan and my friend Reya. I intended to publish them once the exhibition has been closed. I didn’t want to spoil fun for anyone who was hoping to visit it but still provide some inside perspective of my own.
Time passed, a lot of things happened that occupied my mind more than the exhibition. I missed a perfect opportunity to stir some publicity on a hot topic. Everything has been documented, photographed and published in the web. There is not much to add.
I had an impression that the exhibition itself was not especially insightful. We all know that the society is wrong and we are doomed. Ever since I remember from the early childhood, my generation has been projected with the image of this global doom. However, what made the most powerful impression on me was the style and the shock it was supposed to convey. The concentration of artworks representing the dystopian perspective of our world did leave a lot to think.
Bansky’s stated “Instead this is an attempt to build a different kind of family day out – one that sends a more appropriate message to the next generation – sorry kids.” in his exhibition catalogue. “Sorry about the lack of meaningful jobs, global injustice and Channel 5.[…] The fairytale is over, the world is sleepwalking towards climate catastrophe, maybe all that escapism will have to wait.”
My personal interpretation of the exhibition was that it was supposed to be an insight into the future. We are already one foot into this boggy reality and this is the last chance to stop instead of continuing to ignore what is happening. It brutally reminds us where the world is leading with desperate cries for help. The desperation seems very evident in the entire place. The gentle reminders on the packaging to recycle haven’t been successful. Perhaps the punch in the face will help.
Banksy is also painfully aware of how unsuccessful the educational aspect of his exhibition will be in the central piece. This was also the single installation that made the biggest impression on me. When you enter the derelict imitation of the Disneyland Castle, you are invited to pose with your camera. Bored staff directs you in where to stand and point your camera. After the souvenir photo has been taken, visitors go through a dark corridor to a covered with darkness main hall. In the centre of the dark hall you see a fallen Cinderella carriage surrounded by a group of soldiers. Instead of the machine guns soldiers shoot with cameras. Visitors around them try to capture the scene with their phone and cameras. There is no one fake or alive in the scene symbolically trying to help injured Cinderella. However, there is a lot of excitement in the air. At the exit from the castle there is a souvenir shop. You can purchase there a picture which you initially posed for at the entry. Once you get the picture, you realize it has been photoshopped in such a way that you appear to be part of the soldier crowd attacking Cinderella with the cameras. The entire irony of the photograph is that is what most of the people really did.
I understand this installations as the most surrendering piece in the entire exhibition. It must have been clear to Banksy from the very beginning that the entire pro-active, shocking call to action and educational purpose of the show will not be as strongly conveyed as the spirit of sensation that surrounded a mysterious exhibition that appeared in a middle of nowhere, in a ghosty seaside town Weston-Super-Mare. The sensation of the artwork will be monetized, people will be queuing to get in for 4 hours, it will power up the news and media and subsequently vanish with time. Yesterday newspapers fill out bins of today creating even more unrecycled rubbish. No one talks about Dismaland anymore and it has only been a month since the exhibition has been closed.