Over in Weston-Super-Mare, the artist Banksy has created a large installation in the form of a “bemusement park”. With its rotting fairytale castle, a duckpond featuring miniature boats full of refugees, a princess in a chariot crash being bombarded by paparazzi, and frowning staff, Dismaland is the latest in Banksy’s wry anti-establishment commentary battering his five favourite Cs: capitalism, conflict, conservatism, consumerism and celebrity. Outright rejecting the fantasy of theme parks, Dismaland is something of a time capsule, a pop artist having just that at our times.
But what would an Irish Dismaland (Baile Uafásach?) look like? Unlike Weston-Super-Mare, we don’t hold our faded seaside towns very close to our hearts, but the setting is important. Like all Irish building errors, it be should inconvenient when it comes to public transport – and ugly.
A ghost estate is an obvious choice. With roads to nowhere and facilities that never opened, it's a decent Banksy-esque metaphor – and ghost estates are readily available and plentiful. Or what about a defunct holiday camp? Long faded from its glory of Irish summer holidays, it could be a convenient site. You could just move aside the people the State has imprisoned there in limbo while they wait to see if they have been granted asylum or not. Or perhaps they could staff the place. Oh wait, they aren't allowed work. Scratch that. But it would be hard to pass up on the skeletal remains of Anglo Irish Bank's HQ-to-be that never quite made it to the ball, eight floors of pure hubris, soon to become, without a hint of irony, the Central Bank's new building.
While the lads and lassies in the Central Bank are figuring out that migration, let's do what most pop artists do: copy Banksy and build our own Irish Dismaland.
At the family entrance, parents are forced to renounce the devil and soak their babies in water before joining an organisation repeatedly reprimanded for paedophilia – which the child has no say in joining and will never be able to formally leave – just so they can go to the local school. Maybe punters would find that a bit unbelievable, but we could give it a lash.
There are no roller-coasters, just Ronan Keating singing over the tannoy that life is like one. There's a recreation of a geyser, spraying water 60ft into the air. Unfortunately you have to pay to look at the water. If you don't pay to look at the water, it'll come out of next week's wages.
Wheel of Misfortune
There’s a Wheel of Misfortune, featuring X, A,
, and Miss Y. Spin the wheel and the player sees what would befall them should they end up in a crisis pregnancy situation in
. The possibilities are endless, each more grotesque than the next. Maybe that would be a bit much? “This is horrible,” people would think, playing the game. It is.
You can't have an amusement park without a ghost train, and this particular one primarily evokes the ghosts of 2000 to 2008. You get into the Louis Vuitton-embossed carriage, which runs along a track made of decking, unused vouchers for spa hotels, and cladding from unneeded shopping centres, while horrors lurk behind every corner. A gaggle of zombie dog-walkers attack the carriage, undead personal trainers are next, then an army of estate agents slumping forward slurring "Braiiiinnns… I mean 110 per cent mortgages . . ." It turns another corner. Gah! It's Eddie Hobbs trying to sell you a gaff in Cape Verde. Bam! A domino of Smeg fridges and Gaggia coffee machines you used just twice collapse towards the carriage. Vroom! A burning 08-reg Range Rover springs to life in the tunnel. Shredded copies of the Sunday Independent Life magazine flutter to the wind, and then, mercifully, it's over.
On the merry-go-round, children on horses are replaced with students on couches unable to afford Dublin rent. In a hot air balloon tethered to the top floor and powered by the Dáil chamber, our great leaders are encased in a perspex bubble, having the banter, and only pausing to relieve themselves of the contents of the Dáil bar on the passing crowd below. You have to pay for that too.
In Trolley Land, hundreds of HSE workers push pens around while bandaged mummies moan on their stretchers. Then, as dusk falls and Irish Dismaland prepares to close, you spot some lads from Nama doing a deal with an American hedge fund to buy the whole shebang.
“God!” you think, “what a place!” And then you leave, with a goodie bag containing a USB with your USC, and stepping over the rows of bodies asking for change from their sleeping bags, past the motto of Irish Dismaland scratched in the setting concrete, “Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin.”