Or is it the world’s least depressing theme park? Since theme parks are essentially hermetically sealed micro-societies in which brands artificially replicate the human experience of joy — and where humans submit to being shaken and spun and turned upside down to feel alive — perhaps the “happiest place on Earth” would actually be one that dismantled the “theme park” via disturbingly illuminating imagery. Banksy’s newest, just-unveiled project looks to be such a place.
As the Guardian reports, the immense exhibit is situated on 2.5 acres in the Somerset seaside resort town Weston Super Mare, and is, according to Banksy, a “family theme park unsuitable for small children… a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism.” Situated at the Tropicana site — an abandoned public pool — it sounds like an interesting reconsideration of our commingled real-life attendance of bustling theme parks and our weird, viral enthusiasm for abandoned, dilapidated theme parks online — speaking to the ways these spaces appeal to the personal and societal death drive.
The exhibit was built — as Banksy projects almost always are — in secrecy. But since the “bemusement park” opened yesterday, reports are flowing out with information about its contents. It features 58 artists, which include Bill Barminski, Jenny Holzer, Caitlin Cherry, Polly Morgan, Jimmy Cauty, Josh Keyes, Mike Ross, David Shrigley, Bäst, Espo, and Damien Hirst (whose presence could, depending on who you ask, weaken or bolster the critique of spaces of concentrated capitalist amusement with its tendency to epitomize just that).
As for the attractions, the park features:
— A fatal, gruesome car crash reimagined with Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage.
— The grim reaper driving bumper cars.
— The “big rig jig” — a tower made of contorted gas trucks.
— An eerily distorted Little Mermaid overlooking a fetid pond.
— A tent that describes how to break into the poster cases at bus stops and replace them with your own art/propaganda/what have you. The tent has a stand selling tools with which to do so.
— A Shamu-like killer whale breaching from a toilet into a hula hoop.
The tickets are especially inexpensive — only approximately $4.70; 4,000 people are being admitted daily, and with the show closing September 27, demand is obviously extremely high.
Check out some initial images: