Shouldn’t art be uplifting not depressing?


A friend texted me the other day with a spare ticket for Dismal Land, if you don’t know what it is see the link.

News story about the exhibition


I had planned to spend the day writing but after a bit of indecision I agreed to go. I had been to a Banksy exhibition four years ago and quite enjoyed it, what did I have to lose I thought? It turns out my sanity, ok that a bit over the top.

I had a very pleasant ride down there catching up with said friend. When we had got there I should have guessed something was up, after a thankfully quick moving queue I was asked some rather strange questions by fake security guards in cardboard hats. We made it into Dismal Land and well it was very dismal. All the employees wore Micky Mouse ears and had enforced depressed looks. All the exhibits were just well depressing. From the Cinderella’s crashed coach to the bodies of the dead immigrants floating in the water.

What I found very strange was the number of families with small children there, do their parents really want them to think life is like that? There was even a small girl in a Disney dress, was this irony? Can you be ironic at 4? I was worried they would be scarred for life.

I don’t hate all modern art, I like some of it although it has be said I like my art to make me feel better. I can cope with challenging ideas but this was like being hit over the head with a sledge hammer. There have been rave reviews and there were lot of people there looking like they were enjoying themselves including my friend. Maybe I will have to face facts I have become what I always fear to be a philistine. I will leave you with one of my favourite paining I got to see on a recent trip to London.



36 thoughts on “Shouldn’t art be uplifting not depressing?

  1. To be perfectly honest, there is nothing about Dismaland that appeals to me either. It seems a strange kind of exhibit but as you say, it is getting rave reviews. Perhaps I am joining you in the land of philistines 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I found it to be a strange concept when I read about it too! And when I read about the queues of families waiting to go in, I did wonder….. Surely ironic attractions are for the elder ones, not young impressionable children who should be thinking positively…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Art plays many roles in our lives. If it only uplifted it’d be one-sided. Banksy is a political artist. From what I’ve seen I wouldn’t want to go to Dismaland. It seems too dismal and way too current events for my tastes. I get why the artists want to deal with those topics though.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Been a lot of media here about Dismal land, for one I see no reason to visit it, a very oblique type of art to me, maybe people just visit to confirm in their minds that it is dismal as it states.
    I recall seeing your London picture somewhere before, cannot recall the artist but think it was one of the Masters.
    Enjoyed reading your thoughts in this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I always thought that some art (like Michelangelo’s “David” or the paintings that grace the Sistine Chapel) is exhilarating and breathtaking, while some (like “The Scream” or “American Gothic”) is very down-to-earth and plain, for lack of a better term.

    “Dismaland” is thought-provoking, in my book, so anything that makes me stop and go “Hmmmmmm…” is art, IMHO.

    Just my two-pence worth…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Understood – my family took my brothers and I to Disneyland when I was three, and it was a magical place for me, then. As I grew older and began to learn about the type of person Walt Disney was, it didn’t change the magic I saw when I was a child – but it made me not want to take my son there…so I can relate to the “ow” moment 100%.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. The writer tried very hard to be articulate — perhaps too hard. No need to analyze it to death. I got a little lost in the Vice article, which is why I preferred your description. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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