Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Castles in the sky sit stranded, vandalized

"This is not your average sugar-coated fantasyland selling scrapings from the Hollywood floor. No, we couldn't afford the license for that. Instead this is an attempt to build a different type of family day out - one that sends out a more appropriate message to the next generation - sorry kids. Sorry about the lack of meaningful jobs, global injustice and Channel 5. The fairytale is over, the world is sleepwalking towards climate catastrophe, maybe all that escapism will have to wait."
I knew I had to visit Dismaland as soon as I heard about it, it incorporates just about everything I love: art, Disney, dilapidated theme parks and social commentary. I had a bit of a palava getting there (and home again) due to train delays, and then when I was queuing up to get in a full on car accident happened directly outside of it (no one was hurt!). So I was certainly feeling suitably dismal before I even went in.

I'd pre-booked my ticket online so didn't have a long wait ahead of me, and it wasn't long before I was in 'airport security'. I tried to take photos, but as it was the entrance you had to move through pretty quickly so it was difficult. As I took my camera out, one of the 'security guards' came up to me and ominously warned "I wouldn't do that if I were you, you're not going to want to remember today." (which was hard to take seriously in such a broad Bristolian accent tbh)

Obviously it's an art installation so it's not that big, I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get round the whole place but I ended up staying there for 6 hours. There's just so much to look at and I was so aware that this was my only chance to see it that I wanted to make sure I soaked up every last little detail. I'm generally not keen on a lot of modern art, but almost everything there grabbed my interest. I've always appreciated Banksy because he's not pretentious, which the art field often is very much so. I have a lot of distaste of the whole ideas surrounding "highbrow" and "lowbrow" art, it's both incredibly classist and ableist. Art should be accessible for everybody, not just a privileged few who smugly "get it".

All quotes by Banksy.

"The ladies love a cheeky chap! They love a bad boy too. And I'm such a cheeky boy I'll beat you black and blue! With my motley and my jester's hat and my chin just like a gavel, perhaps I might remind you of a bad boy Jimmy Saville?

That's the way to do it! A lovely bit of fun! A playful little 'love-tap', that's the way it's done! That's the way to do it! A side effect of passion. How sad that being all PC is now the modern fashion. You know she loves it really. It's banter in a way. And who bought all those copies of Fifty Shades of Grey? The ladies, bless their little hearts, so no more crying about damaged body parts

"It’s modelled on those failed Christmas parks that pop up every December – where they stick some antlers on an Alsatian dog and spray fake snow on a skip. It’s ambitious, but it’s also crap. I think there’s something very poetic and British about all that."

"I feel like my generation was the first to deal with the mass media beaming the world’s problems to us in real time. I remember the baked beans cooling in my mouth as Newsround showed pictures of flies crawling over the faces of African babies. Mostly we’ve chosen to deal with this by cocooning ourselves, that we can live with the guilt. But 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? 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."

"I don’t have an issue with Disney. I’m not a hipster, so I don’t think something is evil or vacuous simply because its popular. The Dismal Land branding isn’t about Disney at all – its just a framework that says – OK, we accept that making art puts us in the light entertainment industry, and we’ll attempt to engage at that level – but for the left."

"A lot of critics don’t like this kind of art because it doesn’t require their validation or interpretation. There’s nothing for them to do here. Fundamentally I disagree with the charge that art is bad if it’s too easy to understand. There’s a place for directness in other art forms – music is full of it, you’d have a hard time telling people they should only listen to Opera and anything else isn’t ‘real’ music. I think there’s space for art to be loud, crass and obvious. If it looks like the rantings of an angry adolescent what’s wrong with that? What was wrong with punk? As far as I’m concerned there are too many things we need to discuss in the actual world before I start making abstract art."

the first day I wandered round with the public I have to admit there was no-one more disappointed than me. I think the whole concept might be flawed. By repackaging an art show as an amusement park everybody’s expectations are raised substantially. The branding writes a cheque that the event doesn’t cash. I was there looking at Ben Long’s sculpture of a horse constructed from scaffolding, a piece that if it was shown in the V&A alongside other sculptures would be remarkable, but the lady next to me asked her husband ‘Does it do anything?’ I suddenly realised the whole premise was wrong, I’d pushed it too far and it had gone from being a pretty good art show to a very sub-standard amusement park. I mean, who stands in the Tate looking at a Henry Moore asking – does it do anything?

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