Banksy's Dismaland art installment closes but lives on as a refugee shelter.
'You have no control over whether your destiny is to be an asylum seeker or a western super-power.'
After five weeks and more than 150,000 visitors, "bemusement park" Dismaland has closed its doors.
The park was the work of Banksy, one of the world's most well-known graffiti artists.
Upon its opening earlier this summer in the English town of Weston-super-Mare, the park/art installment instantly made headlines around the world for its critique of predatory capitalism, police violence, war, and pop culture.
But there's one last surprise.
"Coming soon… Dismaland Calais," reads an announcement on the park's website.
So, wait, what does this mean? The statement continues:
"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."
The Jungle in Calais, France, is the home of an estimated 4,000 refugees and migrants.
Conditions at the French camp are notoriously poor. The European Union recently granted France €5 million (a little less than $5.6 million) to renovate the camp. Unfortunately, the plan proposed by the EU would accommodate less than half of the people currently living there.
Many of the refugees living at The Jungle have come from Eritrea and Sudan. As part of the larger, ongoing refugee crisis, many of these refugees and migrants wind up in Calais before attempting to cross the English Channel and establish new lives in England.
So while it's really cool that Dismaland is going to be helping the people living at The Jungle, it shouldn't really come as a surprise.
One of the exhibits featured at Dismaland directly addressed the refugee crisis.
In the exhibit, overcrowded boats glide around lifeless bodies floating face-down in a small pond. There's also a small yacht. Here's how Banksy describes the exhibit:
"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."
The whole thing is actually a really powerful look at privilege and caste systems. Why should the refugees be punished for having born in countries ravaged by war and economic disaster? Are the asylum seekers any less deserving of safety than the western super-powers?
As “Britain's most disappointing new visitor attraction," Dismaland had a nice effect on the local economy.
In addition to donating Dismaland's structures and fixtures to the Calais refugee camp, the short-lived theme park was a gift to another group: the local tourism industry in Western-super-Mare.
With hotel bookings up 50% over the past six weeks and more than double the number of travelers arriving from London by train, the local economy has been booming. Visit Somerset CEO John Turner estimates that Dismaland helped drive somewhere around £20 million (roughly $31 million) to local businesses.
No matter how you look at it, Dismaland was a huge success.
Help the refugees? Check. Boost local economy? Check. Entertain tourists? Check. All while producing art that sends a message? Check.