Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Certain Style

I think most of us think of a certain "look" when we think of the Goth movement.  I don't know that much about it beyond a general sense of what I understand that "look" is--probably stereotypically, but I've never really explored beyond that.  I also know, much like most other style statements, it's been subsumed by commercialism and sort of bled dry, killing a lot of the enthusiasm when it became "packaged and sold".  It has happened to a lot of "grassroots" movements--punk, grunge, hippies, hiphop...  Even handmade/DIY is, from a certain perspective, being commoditized.  And that has caused a lot of people to rethink the how and why behind what they do.

I bumped into an interesting inspirational website today that made me ponder these ideas...  Over on they published a video interview with John Dunivant, an interesting man that hosts a huge Halloween party every year called Theatre Bizarre.  And like some of the better Halloween parties, John's got very big over the years.  So big, in fact, that the Detroit city police shut it down in 2010.  It had operated under the radar for years, drawing crowds of 2500 people into a uniquely macabre experience that was enhanced more and more with each passing year.  Costumes and masks were encouraged to protect the anonymity of the attendees.

Completely assembled by volunteers, the party environment and coordination was a labor of love for the participants, and I can only imagine that the illegality was a component part of the magic for them...  This was an expression of self, an expression of creativity and individuality that flew in the face of organized (and legal) activities.  There is something empowering when groups of like-minded individuals gather together in spite of laws.  The youthful part of me understands that it is indeed a stance against the "machine" of legitimacy.  Being on the outside forces those on the inside to acknowledge that some may not think the way they do, and they are not the center of the universe.  That they cannot determine and define success or happiness or legitimacy for everyone else.  I get it.  Deeply.

I think, in many ways, dressing outside the norm is a way of doing the same thing on a smaller scale.  It is a reminder that there is more than one way of appearing, and by extension living one's life.  It's a statement of it's own.

Anyway, it makes sense that Theatre Bizarre would eventually draw the attention of the local authorities.  I'm sure Mr. Dunivant and the organizers understand the necessity for public safety and such (apparently they were cited for a variety of different safety concerns as well as selling alcohol illegally), so now they're trying to go a more "legitimate" route with size-accommodating venues and more attention to crowd control and safety.  This last year was in a Masonic Temple apparently.  Sounds brilliant!

But this is all stuff that I don't really know that much about, and here I am trying to explain it like I'm informed.  I may have the facts completely wrong.  You'll have to do a Google search to get the whole picture.  And ultimately none of the backstory has anything to do with what I'm trying to direct your attention to...

What I'm trying to do is point out his party's sense of style and decoration!  It's a dark carnival atmosphere--very adult and very mysterious.  I connected with this feeling right away as inspiration for Relished Artistry.  Not only is it carnival/circus in flavor, but the rundown, rustic feeling of the entire venue seemed to hearken to a feeling of lost yesterdays that I liked.  While this particular carnival is a bit more Halloween-flavored than I would normally go for,  and it certainly has an edge that I don't necessarily need for my art, it is an incredible curiosity anyway.

I don't want to post too many pictures of the event, as I want you to go and experience their website.  Again, it's a beautiful statement of style in all it's dark glory.  Not only is it unique and eye-catching, but there are media stories, pictures, and videos that demonstrate much better than I could what the whole experience is like.  Someday, I'll attend myself.  If I can ever get out of California to visit Detroit.  We'll see.

Until then, I'm going to marvel at their creative expression, and perhaps translate some of their design sensibilities into a piece or two of my own!  It's certainly fun to explore!

And Live Life with Relish!

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