In 2015, Banksy opened the gates to his aptly titled Dismaland, a sprawling, self-funded “bemusement park” replete with works by 58 artists including Jenny Holzer and Damien Hirst. Now, the art project is in the running for a South Bank Sky Arts award.
Since 1996, the honors have been conferred annually to recognize the achievements of British artists in twelve distinct categories, including visual art. In this year’s 20th anniversary edition, Banksy competes with Cornelia Parker and her Magna Carta (An Embroidery), a laboriously hand-stitched embroidery of the Magna Carta’s Wikipedia page; and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Verses After Dusk—a series of paintings that she mounted at the Serpentine Gallery last year.
Previous winners include Grayson Perry for The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum (2012), Anish Kapoor for his Royal Academy retrospective (2010), Paula Rego for her Tate Britain show (2005), and Chris Ofili for his “uncynically decorative” Venice Biennale extravaganza (2004).
“[The awards] bring together probably the most inspiring room full of creative people it’s possible to assemble,” Phil Edgar-Jones, director of the Sky Awards, told the Guardian.
Last fall, Banksy dismantled sections of Dismaland, which was located in a seaside resort town in Somerset, England, and reportedly applied the material toward shelters for migrants living in a notoriously crowded makeshift camp in Calais, France.
Throughout his career, the artist has always taken aim at those in power, and has worked to feature the powerless in his various stencil projects, including a project in Gaza, a depiction of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as a refugee, and his famous “Spy Booth” stencil, inspired by government whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The winners of this year’s South Bank Sky Arts Awards, selected by an independent panel of judges, will be announced on June 8.