Artist opens ‘Waterboard Thrill Ride’ at Coney Island.

Artist Steve Powers has opened the new “Waterboard Thrill Ride” at Coney Island in New York. “It looks at first like any other shuttered storefront near the boardwalk: some garish lettering and a cartoonish invitation to a delight or a scam — in this case there’s SpongeBob SquarePants saying, ‘It don’t Gitmo better!'” The New York Times describes the experience:

waterboardweb.jpgIf you climb up a few cinderblock steps to the small window, you can look through the bars at a scene meant to invoke a Guantánamo Bay interrogation. A lifesize figure in a dark sweatshirt, the hood drawn low over his face, leans over another figure in an orange jumpsuit, his face covered by a towel and his body strapped down on a tilted surface.

Feed a dollar into a slot, the lights go on, and Black Hood pours water up Orange Jumpsuit’s nose and mouth while Orange Jumpsuit convulses against his restraints for 15 seconds. O.K., kids, who wants more cotton candy!

Powers’s “initial idea was for real people to undergo real waterboarding, right there in real time” but “his wife was among the first to point out that that might be a tad over the line.” However, he claims “the purpose of his art isn’t to tell people what to think, just to get them thinking in the first place.” (HT: FP Passport)

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