Move over Mufasa, welcome to Dismaland! Banksy opens theme park featuring ME artists
Artists from Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Iran featured their work in the theme park. (AFP/Getty)
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Graffiti artist Banksy announced the opening of a dystopian theme park in a British seaside town on Thursday, featuring boats filled with migrants and an anarchist training camp.
The “Dismaland” theme park is located in a derelict outdoor swimming pool center in Weston-super-Mare, a coastal town near Bristol in the west of England.
The site features works from 58 artists, including the elusive Banksy. The artist hand-picked all of them, including three artists each from Israel and the Palestine, one Egyptian artist, two Syrians and an Iranian.
One of the Israeli artists, Amir Schiby, is well known for his satirical memes. He made international headlines during last year’s summer war between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip with a tribute photo to the four Gazan boys killed on July 16, 2014 by Israeli forces, while playing soccer on the beach.
Banksy, who keeps his face and identity a secret and made his name with subversive graffiti, has visited the Palestinian territories on a number of occasions, including after the recent war, when he left some works on the ruins of homes there earlier this year.
Visitors to Dismaland will be greeted by a burned-out version of the famous Disneyland castle, and a dead Cinderella hanging out of her crashed pumpkin carriage surrounded by paparazzi.
It features a riot van built to patrol the streets of Northern Ireland, altered to boast a brightly colored slide alongside its water cannon.
In one fairground game, visitors can steer miniature boats full of asylum seekers around a pond.
“I guess you’d say it’s a theme park whose big theme is theme parks should have bigger themes,” Banksy said in a statement, describing the show as “a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism.”
Spray paint, marker pens, knives and “legal representatives of the Walt Disney Corporation” are banned from the site.
Fellow artists in the exhibition include Britain’s Damien Hirst; Jenny Holzer, the first woman to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale; and pensioner Ed Hall, who has made trade union banners in his shed for four decades.
The local town council is hopeful that the theme park will draw visitors back to Weston-super-Mare, which like many British seaside resort towns has suffered with the growing popularity of overseas travel.
“It’s a fantastic show,” said North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton. “It’s very, very thought provoking. Some of the messages are hard to accept, but true nevertheless.
“We’re extremely lucky that it’s come here,” he added. “We hope that people will visit the show and then come to see the town.”
The development of the show was kept a strict secret before its official announcement, with local people told a cover story that the abandoned swimming area was being used in a film.
The exhibition opens this Saturday until September 27, and will feature performances from musicians including Russian feminist punk rockers Pussy Riot and England’s Massive Attack.