Banksy, arguably the world’s most notorious street artist slash prankster, has unveiled one of his most ambitious projects to date. Dismaland is what the anonymous artist describes as a “bemusement park.” The conceit is all in the name. It’s a miserable place where if you’re enjoying yourself, it certainly isn’t because of the sheer thrill of the park’s attractions. Unlike Disneyland, which advertises itself as “the happiest place on earth,” but in fact is often overrun with bellyaching toddlers and plagued by long lines, Dismaland makes no illusion about what the experience is supposed to be. It features a dilapidated Cinderella’s Castle, a grimy duckpond, and an unsmiling, unhelpful staff. Photographer Chris Samba attended the park recently and shared both his photographs and some words about his experiences.
Tell us a little bit about your experience at Dismaland.
It was a typical Dismal day in the seaside town of Western Super Mare, a bit of rain and grey skies too, with a glimpse of sun for minutes!
Of the pieces in the park, did any stand out to you in particular?
The Horse & Carriage Crash in the Castle was a highlight. It’s a twisted take on the Princess Diana Crash in Paris, with Paparazzi swarming the scene.
Did you have a favorite or a few that really resonated with you?
Hook a Duck was a classic, As a child in the UK this was huge at the fun fairs, where you would win a Goldfish in a bag! The Banksy twist with the fish finger was excellent, and of course the staff made every effort to ensure you could not hook a duck at all!
Based on your experience, what would you tell someone planning a trip to the park?
Immerse yourself in the experience, get involved with the interactive things too. Dont miss the secret rooms in the Art Gallery.
How do you feel like the installation and the experience as a whole were received by the people who attended?
Anyone into art in general would find this extremely interesting and entertaining to attend. There is something for everyone to relate to here.
What kind of impact do you think an installation like this can have?
It had a huge impact on the way art is shown to a very diverse crowd of people.
We’ve heard a lot through the press about long lines and the ticket website crashing. How much of that do you think is intentional? Do you feel like the actual experience of attending the park is supposed to be dismal on some level?
Could be looked at either way to be honest, the crash and lines could really only be created by demand, with a timed ticket there was no wait, only the line of others waiting with the same set time, but it was well organized really. I would say the staff were great at keeping it more of a Dismal experience, not a single smile nor any customer service was given! A lot of rude replies and comments made to customers too.
If you were to hazard a guess, what do you think would be going through a Disney exec’s mind if they toured the park?
If they had an open mind, they would be thinking this is nothing but genius!
Photos courtesy of Chris Samba