In August 2015, myself and Mr Creatabot took a crazy spur of the moment trip to Dismaland. The site had only been open 2 days and we didn’t even know if we would get in as pre-ticket sales were not going online and people were astoundingly disturbed by this. We decided to bite the bullet and drive from Kent to Weston-super-mare overnight – to be at the front of the queue first thing in the morning.
For those of you who do not know what Dismaland was, it was an immersive site responsive exhibition in an abandoned Lido, dismally and slightly inspired by Disneyland, which turned popular culture on its head and instead focussed on activism and anti-consumerism. The experience consisted of a group exhibition of varying artists who are unafraid to use art as a tool for challenging the ethics/non-ethics that people follow. Banksy very much acted as head curator and Dismaland featured a selection of his pieces of work.
The staff were miserable and very unhelpful, which was absolutely brilliant to watch in regards to the public approaching them for help. There were quite a few people who seemed to think it was the chance to have a cheap day out with the kids (entrance was £3). I think they realised they may have made a mistake as they clambered round puddles and reached the Museum of Cruel Designs (curated by Dr Gavin Grindon from the University’s School of Philosophy and Art History) explaining how animal slaughter and the weapons trade breaks all basic morals. The tears small children shed while queuing added to the atmosphere though.
For myself and Mr Creatabot, we understood the message many of the pieces of work were sending – this was about using creativity to educate and as a tool for activism. We realised much of this would go over peoples heads – but we are very glad that Dismaland had over 150,000 visitors and we can only hope that some people took away more than just artistic inspiration with them – and I don’t mean by stealing exhibits.
If you had the chance to visit Dismaland, what was your favourite piece/experience?