Article by: Carlos Po

“The happiest place on earth,” claims the Disneyland slogan, and not without good backing. At some point in 2015, Disneyland and the Make­-a-­Wish Foundation will celebrate granting their 100,000th wish together by giving a terminally ill child happiness for a day. The park draws in millions of guests each year, and continues to grow at a staggering rate across the world, with locations in France, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and a site under construction in Shanghai. Beginning from just a single man and his dream, Disneyland brings happiness to children around the world.

Enter Dismaland, notorious street artist Banksy’s twisted rendition of the happiest place on earth. Walking through the gates of this art exhibition located in Weston-super-­Mare in the UK, one can immediately sense the bizarre, grimy atmosphere Banksy tried to cultivate, to contrast the sunshiny, whimsical feel of Disneyland. The trademark castle is rusting and dilapidated, a far cry from the towering facade of wonder we’ve come to expect. A lonely statue of a familiar mermaid, seemingly distorted by a camera filter, greets visitors upon arrival. The park’s main attractions include a riot van­-turned­-children’s slide, a boat ride framed around a migrant transport gone wrong, and three large art galleries featuring works by 58 different artists around the world.

In traditional Banksy style, mere shock value is not the only reason for the park’s existence. From the “Mini Gulf” oil themed golf course, to the (staged) impromptu protests that crop up inside the park from time to time, to a shop where one can buy keys with which they can open and replace bus stop advertisements, it’s clear that Banksy created Dismaland with a certain political sentiment in mind. Calling it a “a festival of art, amusement, and anarchism”, the UK-based artists claims, “it’s a place where you can get your counterculturalism over the counter.”

Banksy, when asked about his inspiration for the park, said: “If you’re the kind of person who feels jaded by the over-­corporate blandness that passes for family light entertainment, then this is the bespoke leisure opportunity that will connect with your core brand dynamic. It doesn’t so much ask the question, ‘What is the point in art now?’ as ask, ‘What is the point in asking, ‘What is the point in art now?’”

The satirical artist is no stranger to inserting political commentary into his various works. With his signature satirical pieces adorning the park, Banksy aims to contrast the overly cheery nature of anything and everything Disney with the reality that many of the world’s inhabitants face in their day ­to ­day lives. While Disneyland may very well be the happiest place on earth, skeptics and cynics everywhere can find their sanctuary in Dismaland, at least for the five weeks the exhibit stands.

All quotes and information taken from: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/aug/21/banksy-dismaland-art-amusements-and-anarchism

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