WELCOME TO DISMALAND
Dismaland has been all anyone can talk about lately. We reached out to #78 Jason Headley, #1729 Brock Davis, and #3904 Kirsten Lepore, all WNW members whose original and provocative creations are now attractions at the dystopian amusement park. We learned their side of the story, from how they were contacted, to the importance of Dismaland, and the fact that they never met the bemusement park's elusive creator Banksy. And if they did, would they even know?
Kirsten Lepore's inclusion in Dismaland came as somewhat of a surprise to her: "I basically just got an email from Christopher Jobson at Colossal asking if he could screen my film "Bottle" at an art event and that the details were confidential at the moment. I said sure, and then a few weeks later it turns out it was Dismaland. That's all, haha. Pretty anticlimactic."
Jason Headley almost didn't participate in Dismaland; he initially turned down the offer, "Christopher Jobson reached out to me from Colossal. Told me he was putting together some films for an outdoor film festival event and wanted to screen "F*ck That." I was deep in the throes of rewriting a script for the second round of consideration for the Sundance Labs. I had to submit it in a few short days, so I told him no thank you.
He emailed back and said, 'I think you're going to want to be in this.' I ignored that email. He emailed again. I finally relented. A week later, he told me what it was. The day before Dismaland opened. So I'll be offering a seminar soon: 'Succeeding Through Near-Failure: The Jason Headley Story.'"
Brock Davis was slightly more involved in the process, since he was contacted to create original pieces for Dismaland, as well as bring in some of his finished pieces. Apparently those pieces had a secret admirer: "It came out of the blue, I received an email from Pest Control in February who forwarded a message to me from Banksy, saying that he liked my work and wondered if I would be interested in taking part in a group exhibition he is curating.
"He said the theme of the exhibition is Abandoned Amusement Park, largely because the event will take place in an abandoned amusement park. Because he is curating the work, I sent him about 40 ideas and we narrowed it down to about 30. Two installations, two sculptures, current non-theme related photographs, new photographs and a photograph series. For the final event, I ended up exhibiting 18 pieces. My work is in the main gallery, along the wall next to a large Damien Hirst sculpture... I had a great time flying to the UK, installing the work, meeting the other artists, attending the opening and after parties. And I love the quirky, seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare. "
Contributions of Brock Davis, created for Dismaland
They also talked about what they feel is the power of Dismaland, and what they hope it does for both the artistic community and the public at large. Jason, while not planning to fly over to the UK to take the tour of Dismaland, thinks it's a pretty powerful display of art. "I would love to walk through the space and see everything in person. The photos are intense. I love the refugee boats. And the Cinderella paparazzi piece. (Although, this may be the place to start my movement to stop using that word. They're not 'paparazzi.' They're 'photo thugs.') I'm either not intelligent enough or aspirational enough to have any grand thoughts and aspirations for what Dismaland might accomplish. I'm just happy it exists."
Brock adds, "The messaging and tonality is very consistent with the social commentary prevalent in Banksy’s work, it’s just on a larger scale. I really love the originality of combining a contemporary art exhibition with the energy of an amusement park. It’s a very interesting way to view the work and I think very memorable."
Brock was also quite impressed with Banksy's Cinderella installation: "There is some phenomenal work in the show, covering a wide range of artists and mediums, yet the works are all very cohesive to the theme. My favorited piece is Banksy’s Cinderella installation. It’s a large sculpture of Cinderella’s coach, having wrecked with her body laying over the wreckage. Paparazzi flash bulbs are firing around the scene. Viewers become part of the scene as soon as they start taking their own photos with their phones. This with the chatter of the audience adds realistic elements to the work. It’s a very strong piece."
We had to ask if any of them met Banksy. Jason summed it up best: "I don't know if I met Banksy. For all I know, you're Banksy."
UK Members: Tickets for a Dismaland tour from September 8th-15th will go on sale at 10am on Wednesday September 2nd.
Banksy's Selections of Brock's Work
These are images that I had shot over the last 2-5 years that Banksy hand-picked for inclusion in the exhibit.
A photographic series in which I drove a 170lb turnstile all over the place photographing it in front of various landscapes. The actual turnstile is at the event as well, positioned close to the images that show where it has been. Banksy picked 10 of my original 15 images and then narrowed it down to his 6 favorites.