The Unhappiest Place on Earth: Banksy's Dismaland

Artist calls his creation 'a festival of art, amusements, and entry-level anarchism'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2015 8:57 AM CDT

Cinderella's carriage has crashed, she and the horses are dead, and the paparazzi are hovering over their bodies, snapping away. That's just one attraction in Dismaland, the new Banksy art show in the English resort town of Weston-super-Mare, the Guardian reports. Nearly 60 artists built what Banksy calls "a festival of art, amusements, and entry-level anarchism" (subtitle: "a family theme park unsuitable for small children"); Banksy himself created 10 of the works, including the Cinderella wreckage. True to Banksy form, the "park" features exhibits that combine black humor and politics: There's a model village with 3,000 riot police after an episode of civil unrest, a shop offering kids "pocket money loans" at a 5,000% interest rate, a fire pit where a "lord" burns books daily, and boats crammed with people seeking asylum.

There are some frivolous exhibits, too, including balloons that say "I am an imbecile" and a caricaturist who draws the back of customers' heads. The park, open to the public tomorrow, was shrouded in secrecy, with locals thinking it was a Hollywood film set. Even the staff didn't know: They answered an ad looking for extras for the film. Tickets (up to 4,000 sold daily) cost less than $5, so the Guardian isn't sure Banksy, who funded the show himself, is making a profit or even breaking even based on the money that surely went into the show, which runs through Sept. 27. It seems there's interest in the park: NBC News reports people were having trouble this morning buying tickets online because too many were refreshing the Dismaland website, per a spokeswoman. (Could Banksy actually be a woman?)

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