Visiting Dismaland is like visiting a backwards tourist trap. Its beauty lies in the truth and grim realism of its 59 artistic voices. People flocked from far and wide to see this art exhibition with a twist.
The non-empathetic satire in the very fibre of Weston-super-Mare’s latest attraction also extends to its staff. Faced with an airport security-style reception, it was interesting to see how the atmosphere was manipulated by unwelcoming staff who played on your friendly demeanor. Once through the cardboard scanners, the rain endures overhead as you’re greeted by a burnt-out ice cream van. Walking around, many of the artworks had a sense of piss-taking, but with a strong aftertaste of truth.
It’s almost as if the audience are waking up to the realities we endure every day. No-one is spared. It’s refreshing to witness a new sense of anarchism, an upsetting of the tradition of being subtle when approaching social truths.
Both politically and socially rousing, the artists of Dismaland can relax, for they’ve hit the nail on the head. An awakened nation reels in their wake. For a long time, people have been protesting and fighting for the injustices of the system, and their core beliefs are shattered in the dream of Dismaland. It shows people associating with, and acknowledging, the relevance of the alienating subject of “art” in our daily existence.
The feel of the artwork, along with the staff’s attitude, creates a poignant reflection of society. This need to observe with the subject, rather than engage with or experience it, is what I witnessed on my visit. The idea is to conform and capture every second through photographs, rather than occupy and absorb the space. This is understandable, as the mass crowds make it less possible to do so, but is this the approach people now take to art?
I feel that an exhibition of this size and range encourages more involvement and personalisation of international issues such as refugees, politics and global warming – through the medium of art, educating and uniting the audience. The mass migration of people to visit such a one-off art exhibition – “bemusement park” – has opened the barrier that lay between art and the everyday lives of working people. It exaggerates the differences between this type of exhibition and, for example, one of the Tate’s. All in all, Dismaland is a great eye opener to the pace and attitude of conceptual art. It’s something with heaps of vigour, and a chaotic attitude towards the system.
WORDS AND PICTURES: EMMA CALLAGHAN
Has Emma’s review put you in the mood for something alternative? Check out what we thought of Hastings’ Jack-in-the-Green festival.