Dismaland – Our Dismal Day Out
It’s not all fun at Designate. Sometimes we feel the need to feel the full range of human emotions – sadness, mundanity, boredom. So when Banksy opened his Dismaland experience in the genuinely depressing seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, we were first in the queue to go. Well not really first, but kind of in the middle. You get the idea…
So hiring a minibus and purchasing several tonnes of bad snack foods, we set off from rainy Brighton. Shauna’s white bread cheese sandwiches were being consumed before we left the carpark and minutes later, Chrissie hit the Vimto.
Then a car in front of us caught fire. We ate some more snacks.
And then we hit the queues and it began to rain! Dismal eh?
Well, we were promised the UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction and it did indeed fail to meet all expectations – as it was actually rather good.
There were artworks so good that people couldn’t help but take pictures of them – so we took pictures of those people, taking pictures of the art – a funny world of social media documentation we live in. Or as Banksy himself puts it: ‘post-modem art’.
It wasn’t all selfie-sticks and sarcasm though, there were serious messages. A commentary that blurred the lines between the entertaining and educational, art and politics – an anarchic mirror being held up to our culture and society. So much so, that at times it felt like you were part of the experiment and our reactions to the art, part of the art itself. And the weather, just God chipping in.
This was obvious in the case of the selfie wall – a wall with a hole cut in for you to put your arm through and take a picture of yourself, or Cinderella’s carriage where your ride photo was superimposed onto a crash scene you hadn’t seen yet. And you almost felt loathed buying a programme from the deliberately surly staff…
…but we did.
It’s tricky to explain the experience out of context (and even harder to write about it) and even harder still to rationalise it in a short and pithy blog piece meant for an advertising agency website – we are after all the ones that sell the dreams.
But with its sold out tickets, queues, media buzz and general interest in the ‘bemusement park’ it’s interesting that something born out of underground culture is now popular culture too. And whether you’re selling ideas, political viewpoints, experiences or products, it’s about reaching a new audience.