A Dismal Review – Banksy’s Dismaland Exhibition

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So my weekend consisted of Banksy, Banksy and more Banksy. On Saturday, me and my brother investigated the streets of Bristol with nothing but an app to uncover all of Banksy’s pieces… even the ones that have been covered up! (which was the majority)

The main event of the weekend was our visit to ‘Dismaland’ on the cold Sunday. It was no surprise of the slalom cues to enter the estranged fantasy land. As we entered through the doors I felt like a big kid who was about to meet ‘Willy Wonka’, only with less chocolate and more security.

I was approached by a guard who decided to pick on me due to the size of the bag, “Have you got a bomb? Why have you got a bag? Stop smiling”, he commanded as he squared up to me. From here on I understood that this exhibition was not made for anyone’s amusement; it was a deranged utopia set to point out the harsh realities of the world we live in. Very Dismal indeed.

The bemusement park is a statement exhibition that raises awareness of key issues in our modern society and provides an outlook into the future where there is no fairytale ending. Some of the pieces were so controversial that I couldn’t even take a photo of them (e.g. Stick your head through an Isis child soldier cutout)

Darren Cullen’s ‘Pocket Money Loans’ shop was a highlight for me; ‘children’s bouncy castle mortgages ’, ‘Join the army and get a free coffin’, ‘make three late repayments to get a free toy’. It was clear to see the artist has a strong opinion about some of the major issues, along with his well-known Sun illustration, ‘keep fucking buying’. He is known for his sarcastic and dark sense of humour.

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Winning was strictly prohibited within the park, with three impossible sideshow games including ‘Topple the anvil to win an anvil’ and ‘hook the duck covered in oil ‘ (the ducks magnet repelled the stick) Trying to get a balloon from one of the dismal staff was almost virtually impossible as she refused to give them out, although they were straight up with telling my brother his shorts didn’t match his shoes! I read this as a way of saying we don’t always get what we want in life, no matter how hard we try. 

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The Cinema within the exhibition was an absolute treat, showing 20 short films featuring a combination of humour, great illustrations and yes more dismal scenes! The most attention grabbing was a video called ‘The Employment’ by Opus Bou. I won’t spoil it, but it will make you rethink your next trip to work.

Some of Banky’s pieces included a Killer Whale jumping through a hula hoop into a paddling pool, and the defacing of David Cameron poster, and a drive your own refugee boat. With the recent media storm over Seaworld, the Calais borders and  the uprise against Cameron, the pieces are carefully positioned within Dismaland. It makes you question how long the park has been planned for, with everything being so relative!

I can honestly say that this is the best exhibition/ theme park/ event/ whatever the hell it is that I have ever attended… I would recommend to anyone who has an open mind and is looking for inspiration.  It is just a shame we can’t think for ourselves and have to rely on the creativity of others to clearly outline the problems to today!

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