Mar 15, 2010

Victorian Studies

I am working on a new number to Metallica's "Enter Sandman" that will be debuting this Saturday at Galapagos' Floating Kabarett. There is still quite a lot to be done but if things go well, I may debut it at Nurse Bettie on Thursday and do it at the Alter Ego party on Saturday before I do Floating Kabarett. This number is the culmination of years of reading about the Victorian era. Specifically death, mourning, and the nascent of visual culture studies through the mediums of photography, the printing press, and mechanical reproduction of art works (Walter Benjamin is a huge influence in my academic interests). The act is about death and mourning, and it touches on the tradition of death portraits. The Victorians took portraits of loved ones who have died, and the setting of these death portraits are usually done in the parlor where the corpse is still dressed as if living and propped up on chairs and positioned as if they were still living. There are a lot of things out there about this practice and in the last few years there has been more interests in popular culture. For instance, in the film The Others (starring Nicole Kidman) her character finds photos of her servants in death portraits but she doesn't realize they are death pictures and just thought they were terribly... strange. Here's an example of what they look like:

Working on this number has allowed me to dig out and indulge in all my Victorian books from photography as medium (Met exhibition from years ago) to graphic design costume books to old factoid books about life and times of Victorians. I get to make a giant size memento mori locket as a prop AND I get to design my costume ALL in black. Dame Cuchifrita has helped me tremendously in developing this character and act. We had a couple of glasses of wine one night, she did some sketching, and we hashed it out. I realized that maybe I'm a closeted steampunker. That's more really frightening to me than these death portraits.

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