He describes it as a “family theme park unsuitable for small children” – and with the Grim Reaper whooping it up on the dodgems and Cinderella horribly mangled in a pumpkin carriage crash, it is easy to see why.
Banksy’s new show, Dismaland, which opened on Thursday on the Weston-super-Mare seafront, is sometimes hilarious, sometimes eye-opening and occasionally breathtakingly shocking.
The artist’s biggest project to date had been shrouded in secrecy. Local residents and curious tourists were led to believe that the installations being built in a disused former lido called Tropicana were part of a film set for a Hollywood crime thriller called Grey Fox.
The name is a play on Disneyland, but Banksy insisted the show was not a swipe at Mickey and co. “I banned any imagery of Mickey Mouse from the site,” he said. “It’s a showcase for the best artists I could imagine, apart from the two who turned me down.”
Works by 58 handpicked artists including Damien Hirst and Jenny Holzer have been installed across the 2.5-acre site. Julie Burchill has rewritten Punch & Judy to give it a Jimmy Savile spin. Jimmy Cauty, once part of the KLF, is displaying his version of a fun model village complete with 3,000 riot police in the aftermath of major civil unrest.
In one tent would-be anarchists can find out how to unlock the Adshel posters seen at bus stops. For £5 people can buy the tools to break into them, replacing the official posters with any propaganda they please. Is it legal? “It’s not illegal,” said the vendor.
The artist has paid for everything himself but a spokeswoman was unable to say if he was recouping his costs or making a profit. The show will run until 27 September, for 36 days, with 4,000 tickets a day at £3 each all available to buy online at dismaland.co.uk. That amounts to just over £400,000, so it is difficult to see a great profit given the obvious expenses.
Weston-super-Mare itself will undoubtedly benefit. The lido, which opened in 1937 and once boasted the highest diving boards in Europe, has been closed since 2000.
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A Certificate of Authenticity is a bit like an artwork’s birth certificate, passport and quality guarantee all rolled into one.
Essentially, a COA is a document, created by the artist or someone who is an expert on the artist, which accompanies an artwork and contains all the information a collector could need to verify if the piece of art is genuine.
A Certificate of Authenticity (COA) provides a lot of concrete detail about a piece, but by existing for a particular piece, it says even more. An artwork that has a COA is one that is made by a professional practicing artist, not an amateur. It is a piece that has collectible value. The Certificate adds a tangible credibility to the work. It can help the work hold its value.
The COA is held to be an indirect promise of quality. Art pieces that have a COA have usually been made by an artist who cares about their work, its longevity and their collectors. The piece is likely to have been created from the best materials available, be designed to last and been created by an expert. Back to the concrete details, the Certificate will provide all the information on the medium(s) of the piece needed for conservation that might otherwise be lost forever.
Certificates protect the artist and the buyer by helping to prove that an artwork is original. Cheap copies sold without an artist’s knowledge or consent is unfortunately common. Without a COA attached, this situation makes it next to impossible for the buyer to be confident of the value of the piece or for the artist to maintain their credibility and their livelihood.
As an art collector, you really must only buy Fine Art pieces that are backed by a Certificate of Authenticity. This helps ensure that what you have bought at a premium is genuine and not counterfeit.