»During a trip through Iraqi-Kurdistan in 2006, we found ourselves in the amusement park in Duhok, an unexciting town near the border with Turkey and Syria. Reports of attacks, kidnappings and sectarian violence filled the newspapers on a daily basis. Meanwhile, we ate ice cream, rode on the Ferris wheel and talked to the park’s diverse visitors. In the park’s pleasant but equally surreal surroundings, visitors talked frankly about their daily lives, their fears, hopes and dreams for the future. Kurds, Arabs and American soldiers, Christians and Muslims, Shiites and Sunnis; segments of the Iraqi population that were submerged in a deadly struggle outside the gates, amiably rubbed shoulders in “Dream City”«(A.Steketee, E.Blankevoort).
This visit has been the starting point of a journey along the world of amusement parks in diverse places in the world. With their sparkling lights, fairy-tale scenery and perfectly maintained gardens, the parks derive their value from the universal and timeless human need to escape from daily reality in a com- munal constructed space, surrounded by a fence. It became apparent to the authors that an amusement park is more than just a place to have fun; it often also plays a highly symbolic role in a society. Behind the subject’s innocent, light-hearted exterior lurks a darker, staged core, which raises questions about the way different realities can exist next to each other.
Amusement Parks in the book: Iraq (Dream City), Lebanon (Beirut Lunapark), Israel (Superland), the Palestinian Territories (Funland), Rwanda (Bambino Supercity), Colombia (Hacienda Napoles & Jaime Duque), Indonesia (Dunia Fantasia), China (Nanhu & Shimlong), Turkmenistan (Turkmenbashi’s World of Fairy Tales) and the USA (Dollywood)
Authors: Eefje Blankevoort