My kids are ten but we have this mutual understanding that if I treat them as If they’re twenty, we will enjoy a rewarding environment. So when they told me they wanted to go to Disneyland for the summer to see Sleeping Beauty and eat pancakes at Goofy’s Kitchen, I told them we would spend the summer in a place that is more age appropriate. We are heading to Dismaland because it is a simulation of the vile world we live in, I tell them.
Although Dismaland has been labeled as a dystopian amusement park, I think it is alarmingly realistic. Our most feared nightmares are now an undeniable truth.
I would share more of the reactions of my children but I am afraid that will expose their upcoming traumas and my alternative parenting methods.
We enter Dismaland through the main entrance. Guards welcome you with a TSA style search where they treat you as the world’s most wanted criminal. The officers talk to you in a demeaning fashion, assuming short IQ levels and making their prejudice evident.
No, I do not have dynamite and the only drugs in my possession were smoked and inhaled earlier this morning thank you very much. And yes, I understand I do not need to take my iPad out of my carry on.
I can see my kids are intimidated and I tell them to think of this rude behavior as the unmentioned extra charge for foreigners when purchasing a ticket from or to the United States.
My daughter is not old enough to date or tokiss or hold hands. So – I think to myself – this is a good time to tell her about men and assholery. Young men will promise “True Love’s Kiss” and then leave you in a coffin with seven creepy dwarfs. They will take you to Wonderland and then say they can’t stay with you because they never want to grow up. Sure there are exceptions but they hide under rocks, between pages and inside movie screens. Honey, build your own castle.
Like OMG. Remember that time when we, like, got totally waaasted. Like, I couldn’t even remember anything. Lmao I even lost ONE stiletto and I was like…
You were like: booty call. So you got into a pumpkin carriage because it did seem like a good idea after God knows how many shots. And the horses were enchanted under the Tequila spell too. And it all seemed like a good wish your heart had made.
There are no ethics or humanity – if it makes money – let’s make it a modern amusement.
One word: Blackfish.
Other subjects are tackled in Dismaland as well. Including the questionable processing of the food we eat and the limited knowledge we have of its origin. Hot dogs are made of canine meat for all we know.
In all seriousness, I like this installation. I think that the artist’s selection is a fresh sample of one of many branches of contemporary art. Many of the sculptures inside the galleries caught my eye and the themes have a resonating relevance. Dismaland is a very solid arrangement armed with wit to attack the chaos behind our commodities and the ridiculous patterns our society finds engaging. There is a healthy social value in this cogent artwork; yet, I question its ambition. This anti-fairytale has truly charmed me but I simply cannot ignore that it falls into a satirical cliché where the parody is very obvious and fails to go any further than that. For example, inside the park there is a piece that comments on Europe’s refugee crisis, where two small crowded boats float and there is a person drowning. This piece reminded me on Francis Alys’ portrayal of this issue and how he doesn’t just represent but he yields insight through his social experiments to give the viewer a broader and more profound comment about his take on the matter. Many pieces inside Dismaland seem to just tell and not show. Maybe the works are so evident for the purpose of accessibility and to appeal a larger demographic. I just wonder if this true.
Despite my skepticism, I think Dismaland has not only artistic, but also a blooming social transcendence that utilizes cynicism to illustrate the extent of this postmodern social illness .
When we leave, my children both look at me, pale. Their eyes become gloomy allowing me to foreshadow what they will ask. They ask me why I brought them into this world and I tell them this exhausted and miserable world is sometimes joyful too. But it will take them several more years to understand that.
Written by Nicole Chaput
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