Money can’t buy you happiness – except at the happiest place on Earth.
And at its British seaside antithesis? Thanks to Banksy, £3 can buy you twisted entertainment. So the opposite can’t really be said for Dismaland. “I don’t get this”, I heard one man comment, “It’s rubbish”.
“That’s the point”, his daughter explained, “it’s a different type of enjoyment”.
Like watching The Human Centipede.
With rumours of long queues, we deliberated over the perfect time to visit and hoped that 2:30pm would hit the spot. (Practical info – this was pretty much optimum. The park opens at 11am and visitors with tickets are given priority – so if you arrive hours before opening time, you are guaranteed a long slog. One woman we spoke to had arrived at 11.30am and probably only got in 20 minutes ahead of us. Sucks to be her – we got in at 3:45 after just an hour and a quarter of queueing.)
When we finally reached the front gate, we were like excitable children. For a real excitable child, Dismaland must be like seeing into the the future – the darker, fucked up future without flying cars, teleporting and SKYPE. (Which is how I pictured the future when I was a kid.)
First, the princess dream is crushed. Inside the castle, Cinderella hangs lifeless out of her pumpkin car as the paparazzi swarm in with long lenses and bright flashes. “This is what it’s like to be a real princess”. (A Diana reference).
Then the dark humour.
“Please do not steal ducks. This is why there are nine”.
“Topple the anvil and win the anvil”
“Free hot dog for anyone who can guess what animal is in their hot dog”…
On the cinema screen, a surgeon dissects “Teddy”, removing cigarette butts and inserting small plastic models of children. We kicked back in the sun – cans of cider in hand – as we watched the fun unfold. (“Poor Teddy”).
Here, fun is a little twisted.
The clue is at the merry-go-round:
As we walked around, the questions that kept recurring were “how did anyone even think of this?” and “how do they get away with that?” Plates with hands. A woman attacked by seagulls. Peeping Tom. Topically, one display contained remote controlled boats – filled with migrants. Two small plastic bodies floated in the water nearby. Behind, a brightly coloured merry-go-round reflected into the murky water. And as you wonder how an artist can make a game out of a migrant crisis, you realise that there are more serious questions to be asked.
Buy why? According to Banksy:
“Essentially I modelled the show on those failed Christmas car parks that pop up every December – where they stick some antlers on an Alsatian dog and spray fake snow on a skip.
I think there’s something very poetic and English about that.”
I think he’s outdone Winter Wonderland.