Carnival, in its widest, most general sense embraced ritual spectacles such as fairs, popular feasts and wakes, processions and competitions… comic shows, mummery and dancing, open-air amusements with costumes and masks, giants, dwarfs, monsters, trained animals and so forth; it included comic verbal compositions (oral and written) such as parodies, travesties and vulgar farce; and it included various genres of ‘Billingsgate’… curse, oaths, slang, humour, popular tricks and jokes, scatalogical forms, in fact all the ‘low’ and ‘dirty’ sorts of folk humour. Carnival is presented as a world of topsy-turvey of heteroglot exuberance of ceaseless over-running and excess where all is mixed, hybrid, ritually degraded and defiled.
(Stallybrass and White, 1986: 8)
This project gets you consider how Stallybrass and White’s notion of the carnivalesque might be used to explore the cultural character of Venice during the Carnevale Venezia (11th Feb – 21st Feb 2012). Specifically the project invites you to undertake a research project that considers
the historical function of carnivals and how they operate as symbolic moments of ‘anti-structure’ in highly structurated cultures;
- the social and cultural function of the Carnevale Venezia historically;
- the relationship between the Carnevale and Venice itself as a unique, almost liminal space (ie as somewhere betwixt and between the land and the sea, between death and life)
- the popular representations of Venice (eg in film, literature, popular myth etc)
- how does the ‘real’ Carnevale differ from these representations as a lived human experience? (You may wish to consider undertaking a derive (see Debord) through the Carnevale and Venice to achieve this)
- to what extent do the forces of commerce and leisure manifest in both the Carnevale and in Venice itself cut across or mitigate against the original or ‘true’ function of the carnivalesque?