Definitely, Banksy’s Dismaland was THE Art event not to be missed after the summer. Currently over 150,000 guests visited the theme park/exhibition during the 5 weeks-only opening in Weston-super-Mare, UK.
As one of them, I was able myself to visit the park and enjoy the strange atmosphere the artist created on the location, which was largely due to the people working here.
Now that timber and fixtures have been shipped to Calais to provide shelter for refugees, it only rests pictures and memories, what we discussed with Tanicka, local Weston-super-Mare student who worked at Dismaland for 4 weeks.
Dismaland closed its doors ten days ago. In a few words, when you think about these 5 weeks, how do you feel about this experience ?
The experience really opened my eyes. It gave me a third eye on things, seeing how alienated our phones make us, that sheep mentality was reflected in the artwork. I feel sad that it is over. Something I’ll never experience again.
How do you get hired on the last Banksy art show ?
I was only there for four weeks and was thrown in the deep end. One of the Dismaland staff told me about the steward job. I was actually visiting Dismaland as a punter. I did an interview, trial shift then the job. I currently live in Weston-super-Mare, I am a university student studying film and media.
What people may not know is that you had a genuine role into the exhibition strange atmosphere. Besides the fact that you looked depressed, you all acted unpleasant with all the visitors, like you were driving crazy working in such a dismal place. How did you maintain the performance all day long ? Was it written or choreographed ?
I ad-libbed and put my own dismal twist on things. The first hour is the hardest, getting into character (I’m fairly cheerful). After that you just seem to fall into character. It does help if you really are having a bad day or a hangover it really does help and to be honest the public can be quite difficult to manage. So sometimes acting wasn’t always necessary.
What part of the exhibition were you working on ? Who were the other stewards ? (Local students like you, actors, other…)
Lucky we was able to choose where we wanted to work. I spent a lot of time in the sand pit, next to the pocket money loans. I got to work with a lot of my friends from college and from Weston super mare. A lot of people where normal people from the Weston and Bristol area.
I was surprised about the variety of visitors, young couples, families with kids, even grandparents. Everyone was smiling and clearly having fun. How did you feel about looking at them with disdain or being so unkind with them ?
At first you feel really mean but you realize it’s just a character. It plays apart in the ambiance of the place. It was almost like some people felt more comfortable with the dismal behaviour. Most found it funny.
Before I came to Dismaland, I thought about it as an exhibition. When I got there, I felt like I was entering a giant installation, where the sounds, the people, the location, even the weather, were part of the experience. Were you aware you were definitively a part of this big piece of art, as were Damien Hirst or Mike Ross’ artworks ?
Yes you do. They are so many people, who are amazed at what we are doing. They took lot of photos of us stewards. There was a lot of banter between the stewards and the public. Sometimes I enjoyed being mean and the public would love it.
Banksy decided to set up Dismaland in Weston-super-Mare and put this small town under the spotlights. How do you spend 5 weeks in the area ?
I am living local already, I have spoken to lot of locals and we all feel Banksy fantastic giving locals like me an opportunity not only of employment but to engage on a totally unique experience. I made lots of friends amongst the staff.
As a local, did you feel that Weston-super-Mare was different during the show ? How is the town usually ? What about Dismaland location ?
Yes, while working in Dismaland, I carried on my normal job working in a fish shop. We still had a lot of business because of Dismaland and the town was lot more busier then it should be at that time.
What is your best memory from this project ?
My favorite bit was interacting with the 1000’s of people visiting Dismaland. I loved watching the passion for art the visitors had and the conversations about the artwork itself.
Final question… Did you meet Banksy ? Was he around here during the show ?
I couldn’t identify him or her. But thank you Banksy for an eye opening experience.