Disturbed by Dismaland

//Disturbed by Dismaland

I went to see Banksy’s Dismaland the other day and came away with mixed feelings. It was an absolutely fantastic, thought-provoking, amusing, disturbing and wry installation – and hugely entertaining too. But every image and exhibit spoke volumes in an instant. So succinct and pointed were the concepts, that the vagaries of climate change, species extinction, animal exploitation and human impact were conveyed in one display: of an orca leaping out of a toilet through a hoop held by a human in a wetsuit, into a paddling pool of filthy water and floating plastic pollution. Do we need books and even journalism anymore, I thought, when such pictures speak 1,000 words?

But of course we do, because we have a human need to speak and write about what we see, just as I’m doing now; to discuss and analyse and disagree over the meaning (which I’m sure is different for every viewer) of each piece. Some of it is incontrovertible, such as the PocketMoneyLoans cabin, where children could get ‘Rent to Buy’ Gobstoppers, or even purchase their own bouncy castle (buy now, pay for the rest of your life – only 5000% APR). There couldn’t be a more pertinent comment on the state of our economy, even if it were written by Greenspan or Stiglitz.

But Banksy – as always – has made me think. As technology impacts our world in so many ways, not least leaving less time and inclination to indulge in the complexities of a novel or the intricacies of a well-honed article, are modern artists supplanting us writers? Is Banksy the new Byron? Is Hurst the new Self? I console myself that we will always need books; that in the beginning there was the Word, and so it shall continue to be – but these original thinkers – the street artists and activists – are evolving and deconstructing the arts at such a breathtaking pace that what were once the ivory towers of publishing, journalism and art galleries are crumbling as we speak.

Lorna Howarth

Lorna Howarth

Editorial Director at The Write Factor
I'm fascinated by the potential of the imagination to dream a new world into being.
Lorna Howarth

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  1. Emily Cunningham September 4, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Fantastic post, Lorna. We will always need words, to interpret and disseminate images – just as you have done so beautifully here.

  2. Rob Franksdad September 17, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Thought provoking piece Lorna,
    you raise some very good points.
    I see these pieces and the movement that created them as a complimentary form to the written word, but as long as we have the spoken word, we will need the written word.
    Im sure it was the intent of the Artists involved that their work would provoke thought,debate, reading, writing and a greater awareness of these very complex issues
    And in this Dismaland has succeeded

    • Lorna Howarth September 23, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Thanks for your comment and wise words Rob. For me, what was incredible about Dismaland was how the complexity of multiple issues were woven seamless into each piece of art. I’ve read so many articles about climate change, species extinction, inequality etc., (too many in fact!) but the work of the artists showcased at Dismaland encapsulates it all so profoundly – actually said more, went deeper, was unforgettable… This is great art, because it does provoke thought and debate and shows that creativity is evolving and responding to the world around us.

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