The Cabinet of Curiosities
44th ANNUAL NY VILLAGE HALLOWEEN PARADE. OCTOBER 31, 2017
In 1842 PT Barnum attached the head of a monkey to a taxidermied fish and the Fiji Mermaid was born. We laugh now, but Barnum’s Museum was the Carnivalesque forerunner of what became the modern science museum. He straddled a past in which private obsessions with nature’s aberrations produced cabinets of curiosity filled with real and imagined natural relics, and today’s future where CRISPR gene-splicing technology promises to unleash a host of unholy hybrids into our midst.
Halloween, of course, revels in hybrids, mash-ups and the frisson of crossed identities. We know, as Mary Shelley did in 1818, that the scariest thing in Frankenstein was not the monster but the Doctor, who presumed to create new life out of a patchwork of lifeless parts. The human urge to invent life has bloomed with time, as our fixation on cryptozoologic wonders produces Sasquatch footprints, blurry Loch Ness Monsters photos, and Chupacabra crime scenes. The Fiji Mermaid is alive and well, and our collective Cabinet of Wonder has grown exponentially. Where Barnum and Dr. Frankenstein used needle and thread, geneticists are using GT-scans and configurators, but the result is the same: the sleep of reason breeds monsters.
So, as we approach Frankenstein’s bicentennial, the 44th Annual Village Halloween Parade is building its own Cabinet of Wonder, calling on our creative corps to fill its drawers with monsters of their own, bringing forth new life from old. Official Parade Puppeteers Superior Concept Monsters will lead the way with a bestiary of fantastic hybrids, varnished with a thin patina of half-baked science, and culled from the Hallowed halls of Cryptozoology. Drawing on the Surrealist drawing game of “exquisite corpse”, we invite our team of makers to fill our dusty drawers and cases with a bounty of exotic heads, bodies, and tails, building a collective and ever-changing Cabinet far great than the sum of its parts.