9 August 2016
Building on the disquieting, provocative sentiment of Banksy’s 'Dismaland Bemusement Park' - exactly one year after the subversive theme park installation opened to the public in Weston Super Mare - 'Are We There Yet?' is targeted at the socially conscious and those with an interest in counter-culture.
The new project which high-fives Banksy and the fifty artists behind Dismaland encourages us all to express our social and political concerns in ways which engage others on and off-line. Post-Brexit, the project has heightened relevance.
Since Dismaland closed its doors at the end of September 2015 I have been quietly working away with photographer Barry Cawston and Dismaland contributor and author Tristan Manco on a touring exhibition and social media project. All three parts of the project are based on Cawston’s photographs of Dismaland and its wider locality.
Writers for the book include Dismal Steward Farhath Siddiqui ‘The Face of Dismaland’ (who Banksy recently asked to represent him at the Southbanks Sky Arts awards ceremony in London), and street artist Felix (FLX) Braun, one of the executors of the now famous ‘Kiss of Death’ mural featuring Boris Johnson kissing Donald Trump which went viral in June, pre-Brexit.
While Cawston's photographs themselves are a candid snapshot of Britain today, deeply satirical pairings of the images of Dismaland and Weston life constructed in the book and online really lead us to question the current state of 21st century society. The same paired images form the basis of a very lively and thought-provoking daily social media feed located @AreWeThereYetBk across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The project hashtag is #QuestionEverything.
From 15th August to 13th September, we are raising funds on Kickstarter for the 'Are We There Yet?' book, which features 150 of Cawston's photographs. By pre-selling the book, limited edition prints and other kinds of rewards through online crowdfunding, we're aiming to fund the book's first print run and accompanying exhibition in September at the Tropicana, the empty Dismaland site, and raise widespread awareness about the project and its overarching aims.
Further exhibition venues which have so far been offered for the exhibition include plum sites in London, Bristol, Weston Super Mare and Margate.
Some images from the project are already provoking a huge response on social media, including the aptly named ‘A Pig in a Poke’, an image which Cawston captured at the Dismaland closing party of a pig-masked reveller in front of an anti-capitalist artwork by KennardPhillips, depicting David Cameron toasting the Canary Wharf skyline.
Cawston revels in multi-layered interpretation of his images, saying:
“If you think about it, as well as the obvious Cameron/pig gag, the whole Brexit debacle could be summed up by this one photograph. Most people didn’t really know what they were buying in to when they voted to leave the EU – in many ways they were sold ‘a pig in a poke’!
Cawston documented the Dismaland site regularly from its launch on 20 Aug through to its grand finale on 27 Sept 2015. Each time he went there, he also went into Weston town centre to photograph local people, tourists, and the various scenarios which he encountered. The resulting body of work is a snapshot of the British public at large, and their interaction with art that was, paradoxically, a satire on our own reality.
“Where are we going? And when will we get there? What kind of place are we going to live in, in today’s globalised world?… The ‘Are We There Yet?’ book takes us on a visual road trip to the edge of the world.” Tristan Manco, Dismaland contributor
‘Are We There Yet?’ crowdfunding rewards available on the Kickstarter website until 13th September include limited edition photographic prints, and thought-provoking items designed by the team. Unique experiences are also offered such as a portrait with Farhath Siddiqui, ‘The Face of Dismaland’ in Weston, and sand art commissions by street artist and ‘Kiss of Death’ muralists The Paintsmiths.
Cawston continues to document daily life in Weston and elsewhere in the UK, and social and political events throughout 2016 and beyond.