Relics of Temperance

It is said that in America, prior to the Revolution and prior to urbanization, alcohol consumption, as a general rule, was kept to what was then considered acceptable levels through informal social control in the home and in the community. After the Revolution and urbanization the country saw an increase in poverty, unemployment, and crime, much of which was blamed on the relaxation of social control over alcohol, and the corresponding rise of drunkenness. In hopes of reasserting that social control over the “demon rum” temperance societies began popping up across the Northeast. By 1830 there were 2,220 such temperance societies in the United States, each wielding an arsenal of tracts, leaflets, broadsides, pledges, songs, plays, and illustrations meant to scare, guilt, and bully men back into sobriety…. and that’s a lot of printed matter.

12.17. filed under: art. belief. design. history. 14

Shadow Play

Though the term “shadow play” might bring to mind some sort of salacious fetish practiced by overzealous goths and pre-teen wickans, it is, of course, no such thing. Shadow play refers instead to one of the more ancient forms of theater, one whose roots are so old as to be, beyond a certain point, seemingly untraceable, whose practice can be found, in varying incarnations and distinct traditions, all across the world, and whose contrivances account for some of the most gorgeous puppets to ever to cavort, skulk, vault, or swoon across a stage.

12.05. filed under: art. design. history. play. 4

La Bouche

Quote: “The mouth is the beginning or, if one prefers, the prow of animals; in the most characteristic cases, it is the most living part, in other words, the most terrifying for neighbouring animals. But man does not have a simple architecture like the beasts, and it is not even possible to say where he begins. In a strict sense, he starts at the top of the skull, but the top of the skull is an insignificant part, incapable of attracting attention and it is the eyes or the forehead the play the significatory role of an animal’s jaws.”

12.03. filed under: art. humanity. ideas. 1

The Exhibition Stare

When Somerset House opened to the public in 1780 the main staircase which lead to “the Great Room” quickly became one of London’s famous attractions. This fact is often attributed to its terrifying steepness and narrowness, the climbing of which was viewed as an “aesthetic experience” which people of the time would have referred to as “sublime.” Evidently there was another, and one must assume equally exhilarating, reason for it’s popularity. 

12.03. filed under: art. history. humanity. 6

Minotaure (1933 - 1939)

In 1933 Albert Skira, a young publisher of elegant art books, released the first two issues of a periodical which, though it would only last for 6 years, remains to this day one of the most impressive publications of its kind ever produced. It was called Minotaure and the reasons it is damned near legendary are simple– lavish production values of a quality unseen previously, and contributors who, from the editors to the essayists to the artists, went on to storm the hallowed annals of history.

12.01. filed under: art. history. people. 9

| page 4 |