Banksy’s Dismaland, the “most disappointing” theme park in Britain, will be broken down and turned into shelters for migrants in France, the street artist has said.
“Coming soon … Dismaland Calais,” a statement on the park’s website announced Monday. “All the timber and fixtures from Dismaland are being sent to the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp near Calais to build shelters. No online tickets will be available.”
Attached to the statement is an image of Dismaland’s dilapidated castle towering over the French camp, which is currently home to at least 3,000 migrants, most of them from Sudan, Eritrea and Afghanistan.
But on Wednesday an official from the Calais mayoral office told CNN that there had been no request to move pieces of the exhibition to the “Jungle,” and that associations in the city working with refugees hadn’t heard from Banksy or Dismaland organizers either.
“One cannot just do what one wants,” the official, who gave his name as Louis, told CNN.
The sprawling art installation — Banksy’s dystopian send-up of Disneyland — is being dismantled after its five-week run in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare in southwest England.
Visitors to the elusive British street artist’s “bemusement park” were able to explore a run-down version of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, join the paparazzi in snapping pics of a dead Cinderella, or treat themselves to balloons bearing the words “I am an imbecile.”
Banksy, whose identity remains unknown, described Dismaland as “a family attraction that acknowledges inequality and impending catastrophe,” in an interview with the Sunday Times.
“It’s modelled on those failed Christmas parks that pop up every December — where they stick some antlers on an Alsatian dog and spray fake snow on a skip. It’s ambitious, but it’s also crap. I think there’s something very poetic and British about all that.”
Amongst the park’s darker attractions was a small pond where visitors could take control (or so it seemed) of migrant boats.
“In the remote control boat pond at Dismaland it randomly switches the boat you operate — so you have no control over whether your destiny is to be an asylum seeker or a western super-power,” Banksy told the Sunday Times.
“I feel like my generation was the first to deal with the mass media beaming the world’s problems to us in real time,” he said. “I remember the baked beans cooling in my mouth as Newsround showed pictures of flies crawling over the faces of African babies. Mostly we’ve chosen to deal with this by cocooning ourselves, that we can live with the guilt.”
“But why should children be immune from the idea that to maintain our standard of living other children have to die trapped in the hulls of boats in the bottom of the Mediterranean?”
Thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East have drowned attempting to reach Europe this year.
Most of those who have made their way to Calais are hoping to end up in Britain. Since June, at least 11 people have died trying to cross into the UK via the Eurotunnel terminal near the French port city.
Tickets for Dismaland, which featured work from more than 50 artists in 17 countries, sold out within hours of going on sale in August.
Officials say the attraction brought more than 150,000 visitors and £20 million ($30 million) to the seaside town, the BBC reported Monday.
Banksy has achieved worldwide fame for his street art, including work in Utah, which is often laden with social or political messages.
In February he released a two-minute film highlighting the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.
The video featured ironic messages in the style of a travel commercial, interspersed with shots of the artist’s work adorning the doors and walls of bombed out buildings.
“Make this the year YOU discover a new destination,” the film entreats the viewer. “Welcome to Gaza.”
Using the language of glossy brochures, it describes the territory, whose borders are largely controlled by Israel, as “nestled in an exclusive setting” and says it is “watched over by friendly neighbours.”