September 13, 2006



The thing about Guantanamo Bay I’m most curious about now is when they will install the monorail.

Last week,  Wooster Collective hosted the latest contribution from guerilla artist, Banksy.  If you’re not familiar with his work, it’s well worth your time.  A few years back, I featured a couple examples (1, 2) — and I still regret not having covered his absolutely brilliant alteration of the Israel-Palestine separation wall (here and here) a year ago.

Banksy’s latest venue is none other than Disneyland — originally, an amusement park in Southern California, but now, the reality machine for the reformulation of U.S. political history.  Ranking right up there with the Yes Men’s recent hijacking of the Homeland Security Department, this elegantly simple subterfuge involved the placement of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner inside the Rocky Mountain Railroad ride.  (Here’s the BBC story, and you can see more images here.)

Done well, irony is endlessly robust.  I’d be writing until the bars in Barcelona opened in the morning (serving up all those pasteles and croissants) to provide you a fuller list of associations.  Instead, here are a few that strike me right off:

— Obviously, America has made a full return to prairie justice.

— The scene bears witness to the refashioning of “American progress.”  At one time, the locomotive ushered in a new era of American capacity and vision.  Apparently, the (so-named) war on (undefined) terrorism has come to symbolize our bold leap into modernity.

–  Are the Gitmo detainees simply prisoners, or — like the doll behind the fence — are they actually a perverse amusement attraction?  (And, because the photo puts the viewer inside with him, are the American people — along with the reporters who document this political theatre every day– trapped inside, as well?)

— Love the cross.  Is that a warning to the evil doers about where they’ll end up, or is just part of the mission statement?

I’m getting off the ride here, but I leave you to locomote around this new classic of Americana.

(hat tip: Jacob)

(image: Banksy via Wooster Collective.  Los Angeles.  September 2006)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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