Banksy's Dismaland in Calais
Banksy’s Dismaland, which opened in England in August, has ended its run, but now that the “bemusement park” has made its satirical statement, Banksy is repurposing it for a more political one.
The parody theme park is being taken down and reconstructed in Calais, where thousands of refugees are camped out, trying to cross the Channel into the U.K.
“Coming soon… Dismaland Calais,” the Dismaland website reads, under an image of the Dismaland castle standing in the middle of the migrant camp. “All the timber and fixtures from Dismaland are being sent to the ‘jungle’ refugee camp near Calais to build shelters. No online tickets will be available.”
Dismaland, which was open for five weeks in Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England, incorporates works from artists all over the world in a grim, large-scale parody of Disneyland where guests are met by grumpy security guards, balloons emblazoned with the phrase “I am an imbecile” are for sale, and an exhibit of Cinderella’s wrecked carriage, surrounded by paparazzi, recalls the death of Princess Diana.
Though Banksy says in an interview posted on the park’s site, “I don’t have an issue with Disney,” Dismaland isn’t the first time he has subverted the sweet, sunshiny Disney iconography to expose greater darkness in the world. In his 2010 documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, the artist-activist sneaks a large doll of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner into the real Disneyland and leaves it right in the middle of the park, where the rides shut down and park security interrogates Banksy’s accomplice, who was filming the stunt.
In the interview on the Dismaland website, Banksy describes his park as “a family attraction that acknowledges inequality and impending catastrophe,” adding, “I would argue it’s theme parks which ignore these things that are the twisted ones.”
“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?” Banksy continues. “The grown-ups might have convinced themselves small incremental change and buying organic tomatoes is enough, but passing that mindset onto the next generation doesn’t feel like good parenting.”