Banksy, the anonymous street artist, has gained prominence in the public's eye for his politically charged artwork, which often highlights the darker, more grotesque aspects of humanity.
His latest exhibition is no exception. At Dismaland, "A Bemusement Park" in the U.K., Banksy features several statues that speak to the darkest parts of the relationship between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom.
While art is always open to interpretation, there are some pointed pieces that speak loud and clear. Here are a few:
4. We force animals to perform impossible "tricks."
A whale leaps from a toilet bowl to jump through a hoop, held by a masked trainer. On the other side of the hoop, a baby pool awaits the whale's landing.
Since the release of "Blackfish," it's no secret that whales and other captive animals are asked to achieve impossible feats for entertainment's sake. As a species, humans have split up animals from their families, forced them to live in isolation and placed them in harsh living conditions. How much longer will it be before we realize that these "tricks" are not only impossible but also cruel to ask of any animal?
3. Industries built around animals will try to keep their cruel acts hidden.
On an otherwise typical carousel, one horse hangs high above the others as a butcher sits on a box labelled "lasagne."
As the E.U. horse meat scandal of recent years has shown us, there are secrets the meat industry doesn't want its consumers to know. And in the U.S., some states have ag-gag laws to prevent whistleblowers from telling the public the truth about the meat industry.
2. Our lifestyles come at the price of living things.
In a surreal and interactive part of the exhibition, park attendees can play a carnival game to win a prize. The carnival game is a familiar one: Catch the floating duck with a fishing pole. Except this game has a two bizarre twists. The duck is covered in tar, and the prize is fish food, trapped in a plastic bag.
Why the tar and bagged fish food? Perhaps Banksy wants us to make the connection between our extravagant lifestyles and the effects those lifestyles have on the greater animal community. From driving cars to dumping trash into the ocean, we often let animals pay the price for our lifestyles.
1. Humans and animals alike are heading for disaster.
A tragic scene has unfolded in the park's centerpiece,Cinderella's deteriorating castle. A mangled Cinderella droops over an upside-down carriage as two birds tie the ribbons on her dress. To the left, two horses lie tangled in the crash's aftermath. To the right, photographers flash their cameras.
While many of the other sculptures in the exhibition seem to present humans and animals against each other, one as the oppressor and the other as the oppressed, this devastating scene shows humans and animals together, united in death at the hands of a destructive society.
In "Dismaland," Banksy focuses on some the darkest aspects of humanity - our selfishness and lack of compassion to other living things. At times, these can be difficult and painful characteristics to see in ourselves. However, if we have any hope to change our ways and end the horrors which take place in our world, we must first recognize them.