'Welcome to Dismaland,' a dead-eyed girl in Mickey Mouse ears greets at the gates of the old public pool. Dismaland is the latest exhibition from Banksy, the art world's favorite agent provocateur. Billed as a 'bemusement park'. Photo: CNN

By Allyssia Alleyne
20 August 2015

Weston-Super-Mare, England (CNN) — The seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare in south-west England is chilled and gloomy when we arrive.

Surrounding it: an upside down slide fashioned from a battered old truck, an old-school carousel, a ferris wheel. Inside, Cinderella's coach has crashed, surrounded by clicking paparazzi.

Here it is: the latest exhibition from Banksy, the art world's favorite agent provocateur. Billed as a "bemusement park" and modeled after Disneyland, it's a warped vision of the so-called "happiest place on Earth". Officially opening to the public on Saturday, August 21 (it's open to locals only tomorrow), it's Banksy's largest exhibition to date and the 4000 allotted daily tickets, priced at less than $5, are expected to sell-out fast.

This is, of course, the Banksy who has built a reputation for leaving often political, frequently comical graffiti everywhere from London to Gaza; the street artist known for exploring war, political corruption, hope and revolution with stencils and spray paint; the anonymous figure whose identity remains unconfirmed.

What we do know is he was raised in nearby Bristol, and that he's been planning this for months. There's been speculation for weeks about what was going on at the site -- formerly a public pool. Locals were told it was a film set.

There are rides, yes, and three galleries featuring pieces from the likes of Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, and Banksy himself, along with lesser-known artists. The over 50 artists from 17 countries are united by their questioning -- and defiance -- of mass culture.

As was expected, the artist isn't here to speak to his mission directly, or why he's sending up Disney, but the artists on hand were more than happy to theorize. [more]

Welcome to Dismaland: Banksy's new grotesque art theme park

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