LONDON• Graffiti artist Banksy announced the opening of a dystopian theme park in a British seaside town on Thursday, featuring boats filled with migrants and an anarchist training camp.
The park, Dismaland, is located at a derelict outdoor swimming pool centre in Weston-super- Mare, a coastal town near Bristol in the west of England. It opens today.
Visitors will be greeted by a burnt-out version of the famous Disneyland castle and a dead Cinderella hanging out of her crashed pumpkin carriage surrounded by paparazzi.
It features a riot van built to patrol the streets of Northern Ireland, altered to boast a brightly coloured slide alongside its water cannon. In one fairground game, visitors can steer miniature boats full of asylum seekers around a pond.
"I guess you'd say it's a theme park whose big theme is theme parks should have bigger themes," Banksy said in a statement, describing the show as "a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism".
Spray paint, marker pens, knives and "legal representatives of the Walt Disney Corporation" are banned from the site. The park also features works by artists from Israel, Palestine and Syria hand-picked by the elusive Banksy, who keeps his face and identity a secret and made his name with subversive graffiti, including some left in the ruins of homes in Gaza earlier this year.
Fellow artists in the exhibition include Britain's Damien Hirst; Jenny Holzer, the first woman to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale; and pensioner Ed Hall, who has made trade union banners in his shed for four decades.
The local town council is hopeful that the park will draw visitors back to Weston-super-Mare, which like many British seaside resort towns has suffered with the growing popularity of overseas travel.
"It's a fantastic show," said North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton. "It's very, very thought provoking. Some of the messages are hard to accept but true nevertheless. We're extremely lucky that it's come here. We hope that people will visit the show and then come to see the town."
The development of the show was kept a strict secret before its official announcement, with local people told a cover story that the abandoned swimming area was being used in a film.
The exhibition, on till Sept 27, will feature performances from musicians, including Russian feminist punk rockers Pussy Riot and England's Massive Attack.