Thursday, June 15, 2006

Carnivalesque: A Grim Guignol

Carnivalesque: A Grim Guignol
June 8 - July 8, 2006
Opening Reception: Saturday June 10 - 6-9pm
Closing reception: saturday, July 8 - 6-9pm

View carnival images by David Grim
View other carnival images

Carnivalesque: A Grim GuignolCarnival - a burlesque world of the odd, the unique, the strange, the macabre' and the fun. Have some fun with Digging Pitt Gallery and the Carnival exhibit. Shills and carneys, barkers and roustabouts jigging to the blatting of the cally-ope. Come one, come all! Digging Pitt Gallery invites you to submit your art for the gallery exhibition. The exhibit will be curated by Digging Pitt artist David Grim.

Join us at the opening reception for special performances by:
Phat ManDee
Andrew the ImpaledOriginal
music composition by Andres Ortiz-Ferrari

Artists included in the exhibit
Florence Barry
Kate Bechak
Christine Bethea
Nicholas Vincent Brungo
JJ Burns
Chuck Busha
John Calandra
Connie Cantor
Victoria Cessna
Francis Crisafio
John Eastman
Gus Fink
Marci Ghering
Carl Goldman
Gloria Gomez
David Gonzalez
David Grim
Jennifer Howison
Jeff Katrencik
Thad Kellstadt
Paula Garrick Klein
George Kollar
Sarah Emily Kuntz
LeRoy, King of Art
Laura Jean McLaughlin
Chris Mozley
Michael Ortoski
Kyle Pattison
Todd Pinkham
Karri Roberts
Reverend Daisher Rocket
Richard Schnap
Bruce Siskawicz
Jessica Sommer
Kathryn Strutz
Laura Stuart
Jim Towns
Robert Villamagna
April West
Alice Winn
Chris Zarchansky
Bob Ziller

Curator, David Grim
The traveling carnival reached it's archetypal form between the two world wars. Originally they were included as part of the midway of a traveling show or circus, but due to the economic malaise of the country were scaled down to truck-convoy sized proportions. There were dozens of companies plying this trade at each and every crossroads, junction and pisspot across the land.

Of course the impetus of each and every carnival operation was the need to separate the rube or mark from his/her money. In order to do this all manner of con games and amusements were employed. The sleight-of-hand, manipulation and distortion belied the expectation of magic in the hearts of the non-suspecting.

The lures of the carnival were varied, but they can generally be considered in categories. There was the glitz of the rides... the ferris wheel and merry-go-round for the kiddies... There were the games of "chance" which were, without exception, rigged. And there was the haven of the true artists and performers... the sideshow (also known as freakshow, or "ten-in-one"). No doubt there were the grindshows (cooch shows) for the adult men to tuck surreptitiously in, as their children gorged themselves on cheap unwholesome food. But for our purposes, the "ten-in-one" must gather our focus.

A traditional "ten-in-one" was contained under a tent with a platform outside, at its entrance. On the platform, the "talker" would unravel his spellbinding spiel of sensationalism, weaving strange stories into the sensibilities of the spectators. His job was to "turn the tip", which simply meant to generate a paying audience for the show inside the tent. Of course the promise was the product, not the reality. Once the crowd had been admitted, an emcee would introduce the acts, one-by-one. These included all sorts of natural born human oddities as well as "working" attractions (those type of practitioners like mentalists, contortionists, sword-eaters, strongmen, etc, that could be easily replaced).

The sideshow invariably culminated with the blow-off. It's purpose was to get the crowd out of the tent, and the next group of rubes in. For a nominal additional fee, the audience would be offered a phenomena SO STRANGE and MIRACULOUS that they would NEVER FORGET it AS LONG AS THEY LIVED!!! This was usually a "pickled punk" (fetus in a jar, malformed or not), or a hermaphrodite (sometimes even authentic!). Of course those who took the bait were sworn to secrecy so that they would taunt their friends into sharing the experience of being fleeced for the additional blow-off fee.The more I think about the entire phenomena, the more parallels between the carnival and art worlds become painfully obvious. I'll spare you the hopefully unnecessary and long-winded elucidations. Curator's statement - David Grim

No comments: