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Dismaland: A First Look at Banksy's Eerie New Pop-Up Art Exhibition

A derelict former lido on the Weston-super-Mare seafront has been unveiled as the site of a new art exhibition by pseudonymous street artist and provocateur Banksy. ‘Dismaland: The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction’ opened on Thursday, putting an end to weeks of secrecy and suspicion surrounding the 2.5-acre exhibition.

The exhibition, built inside the disused Tropicana lido, was advertised as a film set for a movie called Gray Fox. A demented assortment of surreal and macabre artworks by more than 50 handpicked artists, including Damien Hirst and Jenny Holzer, as well as ten of Banksy’s own, are on show. From an official event brochure: ‘This event contains adult themes, distressing imagery, extended use of strobe lighting, smoke effects and swearing. The following items are strictly prohibited: knives, spraycans, illegal drugs, and lawyers from the Walt Disney corporation.’

At ‘Water Cannon Creek,’ an armour plated riot control vehicle stranded in a pond has been equipped with grenade launchers and a children’s slide. The Grim Reaper cavorts on the dodgems, while paparazzi swarm around the scene of a pumpkin carriage crash, complete with mangled Cinders. At the centre of the exhibition stands a decrepit castle in grotesque mimicry of Disney World's iconic Cinderella Castle. 


In addition to the artworks, there are rides, interactive games, and live performances. Visitors can learn how to hack the billboards at bus stops and replace the posters with their own propaganda, while Darren Cullen’s ‘pocket money loans’ shop offers money to children at an interest rate of 5,000%. At the Jeffrey Archer Memorial, warm yourself around an authentic open fire lit with 'one of the famed local perjurer’s novels.'

Even Dismaland employees abide by the theme, wearing pink hi-vis jackets incongruous with their robotic and entirely unhelpful manner. ‘It’s a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism. This is an art show for the 99% who’d rather be at Alton Towers,’ said the mastermind of the 'bemusement' park. ‘It’s a showcase for the best artists I could imagine, apart from the two who turned me down.’

Dismaland is open to the public from August 22 to September 27.


Aaron Waterhouse

Aaron is a recent English graduate from Durham University who is now working as a content writer intern. An enthusiastic traveller, he hopes to become a journalist and report from around the world. Follow him @AaronAtSMF.

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Dismaland: A First Look at Banksy's Eerie New Pop-Up Art Exhibition Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, August 21, 2015 Rating: 5

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