Banksy to Send Timbers From His UK Theme Park to Refugees

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Visit to Banksy’s Dismaland as It Closes Its Dark Doors.

LONDON — Street artist Banksy has said he will send the material from his closed amusement park in England to France to help shelter refugees camped there. Work to take down Dismaland begins today and the elusive street artist said all the timber and fixtures from the so-called Bemusement Park would be sent to ‘The Jungle’ camp, where thousands are camped.Impossibly bored, sulking employees; stagnant “fairy-tale” moats; and throngs of hipsters carting “I am an imbecile” balloons: the fun will all come to an end at Dismaland Sunday night, when street-art phenomenon Banksy’s satirical theme park shuts up shop for good after performances by Pussy Riot, De La Soul, and even – just possibly – a rumored appearance by Eminem.The so-called ‘bemusement park’, which is said to have generated £20million for the economy in its hometown Weston-super-Mare, will be dismantled from tomorrow after an immensely popular five-week run.

Welcome to Dismaland, the latest and without doubt most elaborate project from the UK’s elusive anti-establishment clown prince, Banksy, that will close its doors on Sunday evening. Likely to cause even more of a stir, however, is the appearance of Banksy himself, the broadly anti-establishment graffiti artist whose politically-loaded designs have taken the art world by storm, even as critics grumble that he’s not anti-establishment enough. And the world-famous street artist announced its legacy will continue with fixtures and fittings sent to a refugee camp near the French port, which is currently home to around 5,000 migrants from countries including Syria, Libya and Eritrea. A mock theme park and vast conceptual art piece rolled into one, it’s a rampant satirical skewering of the corporate, political and media worlds and, obviously, Disneyland (the logo is a dark and rather sinister version of the Disney castle while the “legal representatives of the Walt Disney Corporation” are strictly banned from entering according to the small print.) Sublimely located on the site of a disused resort in Weston-super-Mare, a fading British seaside town now known more for its mobility scooters than donkey rides and just a short train journey from Banksy’s home city of Bristol, Dismaland, as the name suggests, is a joyously comical celebration of 21st century monetized gloom.

No online tickets will be available.” The theme park opened at a derelict seaside lido at Weston-super-Mare in Somerset and even though Banksy branded it “crap”, that did not stopped thousands of people visiting. On the Dismaland website, Banksy posted a picture of the migrant camp in Calais and had superimposed onto it his fire-ravaged fairytale Cinderella Castle. He’s “The $20 Million Graffiti Artist Who Doesn’t Want His Art To Be Worth Anything,” as Forbes’ Danielle Rahm put it, still unidentified after years of fame, and he will attend the grand finale of his five-week installation, his biggest yet, only on the condition that all party-goers don masks. Installations based on themes including migrant boats, Jimmy Savile and an anarchist training camp saw it become one of the country’s most popular attractions since opening on August 22.

Visit Somerset’s chief executive John Turner said: “The Banksy effect has brought into the town a worldwide audience which I have never experienced, even with the tragic pier fire which also gave full media presence.” The centerpiece of the “exhibition” is the Dismaland castle itself, a forlorn, evil-looking citadel housing an upturned pumpkin carriage from which Cinderella’s lifeless body hangs, lit up by the flashes of a paparazzi scrum.

An invited team of 50 artists transformed the boardwalk into a temporary “bemusement” park that left some of its 150,000 visitors feeling caught in a bind, unsure if their love of all things Banksy implicated them in the same capitalist consumer mindset that the installation set out to critique. When Dismaland opened, Banksy described the park as “a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism”, adding: “This is an art show for the 99% who’d rather be at Alton Towers.” The Bristol-based artist later told The Sunday Times: “This is not a street art show. Over at small pond, remote controlled boats are packed with miniature asylum seekers, some of whom float face-down in the water, while a van advertises “Pocket Money Loans” for children, boasting interest rates of 5,000 percent. It’s modelled on those failed Christmas parks that pop up every December — where they stick some antlers on an Alsatian dog and spray fake snow on a skip.

North Somerset council, which has described the site as the centre of the contemporary art universe, said it would bring £7m to the local economy, while local business leaders have estimated that the economic benefit to the seaside town could top £20m. Hours-long queues of visitors from around the world buoyed Weston-super-Mare’s economy by £20 million pounds, or about $30 million dollars, since Dismaland’s gates opened on August 21. “It will be a shame to see it go,” local hotel manager Wayne Entwhistle told the Guardian.

The Russian activist band’s performance at Dismaland this weekend, their first-ever live set, criticized European nations’ response to the migrant crisis with a song written especially for the occasion. Such has been the demand for the £5 ($8) tickets – 4500 for each day – that the website crashed when six million people tried to log on simultaneously. Although art producer Kath Cockshaw calls him “the street art king of meaning,” it’s a title that makes other critics, and political artists, squirm.

The first batch eventually sold in under 10 minutes (the later ones in even quicker times), with enterprising sorts seemingly forgetting the artist’s anti-capitalist ethos by immediately sticking them back online for up to 30 times their face value. New York Magazine critic Jerry Saltz has attributed Banksy’s mass appeal to the “frisson” people feel around something “slightly bad-boy,” “anarchy-lite.” The Guardian’s art critic Jonathan Jones blasted Dismaland as “a charade where everyone has to pretend this is a better joke than it really is,” art that “claims to be making you think” while, in reality, providing little more than photo ops. It’s unclear. “Why should children be immune from the idea that to maintain our standard of living other children have to die trapped in the hulls of boats in the bottom of the Mediterranean?” he asks, calling out adults who “have convinced themselves small incremental change and buying organic tomatoes is enough.” There’s no way to tell, for now. Inside the park actors may put on security costumes and play up for the visitors with cardboard batons, but outside stand very real security guards checking bags, alongside non-ironic snaking queues and signs informing people that the park is “cash only.” Reviews have been rather mixed.

Among the most harsh was via the provocative Huffington Post headline “Dismaland Is Not Interesting and Neither Is Banksy” which slammed the artist for “easily accessible” messages made for those who want to seem deep without putting in the effort (a common Banksy slur). The Guardian meanwhile, said it was “sometimes hilarious, sometimes eye-opening and occasionally breathtakingly shocking.” When you’ve got millions of fans frantically clicking the refresh button to get through to the ticket page, however, winning over the critics probably isn’t something to lose sleep over. And even the most cynical Banksy detractors would struggle to appreciate the genius behind some of the pieces, which were created with the help of 58 other artists – including the likes of Damien Hirst.

In the large gallery building, an entire room is dedicated to a vast and exquisitely detailed model village experiencing the aftermath of a mass riot, with 3,000 tiny hand-painted riot police and windows “individually smashed by the artist.” For all the subversive messages, however, there’s still the question of whether they actually have any overriding effect, or whether they’ll simply be snapped on an iPhone, given a nice sepia coloring and posted to Instagram, owned by Facebook, whose market value recently topped $245 billion. Sure, it’s not Banksy’s fault, but his anti-corporate larks have been well and truly hot-wired by the corporate machine, ready to be snapped and published on social media between carefully targeted commercials or hung in auction houses for the highest bidder.

Just next week, a piece of graffiti Banksy put on the side of an abandoned Detroit car factory is going under the hammer in LA, expected to fetch $400,000. Perhaps the most telling part of Dismaland is on the way out, where in a potentially entirely non-sarcastic hat tip to his own Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary, guests do indeed exit via the gift shop, where genuine Dismaland T-shirts can be bought for £20.

The artist’s only disappointment is likely that the recent scandal about U.K. prime minister David Cameron – incredible allegations that he once stuck his penis into the mouth of a dead pig while in college – didn’t erupt before he started work on the project.

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