Continuing Progression of Statement of Intent for my Final Degree Show at Central Saint Martins
I have originally planned to explore surgery on the body, to cut, incise, penetrate and manipulate. I am deeply fascinated by the act of transformation of the body from bodily processes to external extensions and restrictions. The works of Matthew Barney, Joel- Peter Witkin, Richard Serra and Stelarc have pushed me to look at the skin as a barrier or a restriction; and once this barrier has been manipulated or modified you are free from constraint and can be released from yourself.
The hyperbole of the Carnivalesque comes into context, the act if pushing our bodies to the extreme. Eating to stretch skin, violence and sexual endeavours, we use the idea of the ‘Carnival’ to release our animalistic urges before the confines from lent.
I want to create objects of unease and sensuality to stretch, squeeze and invade the flesh in a grotesque realization of a second existence.
Carnivalesque ‘earthy’ behavior
Looking in particular at night clubs or night life as the ‘market place’ we can easily see the excessive and unconventional behaviour being expressed. ‘Freedom, equality, the mingling of races. In its symbolic thrust, at least, carnival translates a profoundly democratic and egalitarian impulse’ (Stam,1989: 130). Outlandish or surreal behaviour can be seen through the years in some of the most established nightclubs, Copacabana (figure5), Stork Club, Hell Fire Club NY (figure 6), Studio 54 (figure 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14) and the Mudd Club (figure15). Studio 54, founded and created by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, was a thriving and acclaimed nightclub in New York City which opened its doors from 1977 till 1981. ’Covering Studio 54 was like covering the big bang. On April 26, 1977—a long time before superstar D.J.’s, before velvet ropes, before anyone had ever heard of “club drugs” like XTC, 2CB, and special K—Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager let there be light and speed and spectacle so preternaturally pleasurable that it had to fall apart. But while the ball lasted, there was no more thrilling nightlife than the dance on West 54th Street. I know, because I was there. Studio 54 was my beat as the “Intelligencer” columnist. Go forth and party with Halston, Bianca, Andy, and Liza, said my editor, and bring back the buzz’ (Nobile, 2007).
‘It quickly became the best known nightclub in America, riding the wave of 1970s dance music and newly found personal freedom. It made vast amounts of money for its two young owners. But after three years the party came crashing to a halt’ (Dowd, 2012). It was a ‘salad bowl’ mix of people, celebrities, the straight, gay, drag queens and was undoubtedly a visual confusion. ‘The VIPs were photographed and often. The list is long and included Calvin Klein, Truman Capote, Liza Minnelli, Robert Mapplethorpe, Elizabeth Taylor and Andy Warhol. Other regulars are perhaps more surprising: Benecke recalls the classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz turning up regularly with his wife Wanda. “He always wore ear-plugs. He hated the music but he loved watching the people.” Scheer recalls Andy Warhol saying the club was a dictatorship at the door but a democracy inside. “There was no A-List or B-List or C-List. We came after the pill arrived and before Aids had a name. Women were thriving in terms of their sexuality and it was also a great time to be gay. There was no stigma inside Studio 54” (Dowd, 2012). Bakhtin describes Rabelais’ images of Gargantua and Pantagruel, ‘no dogma, no authoritarianism, no narrow-minded seriousness’ the same atmosphere or spirit we can see taking place in Studio 54. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager wanted Studio 54 to be a mass of mixed people, a place where judgement is banished and grotesque realism can prevail. All hierarchy’s, genders and race could blur within the chaotic foundations, ‘Carnival breaks down the social boundary or proscenium that separates performer from onlooker…There is ‘chaotic disarray’ that contradicts the ‘truth already established’ by official ideology’ (Bristol, 1989: 65).