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It's All a Masquerade
Carneval and Disguise in Art and Culture

It’s All a Masquerade! –
Carneval and Disguise in Art and Culture
16/11/14 – 22/02/15

The exhibition is part of a two-part exhibition project that is organized by the Museum Villa Rot together with the MEWO Kunsthalle in Memmingen for autumn / winter 2014/15 . Both institutions are located in the area in which the Swabian-Alemannic carnival is traditionally celebrated.

The meanings of masquerades range from pure game to existential acts. It may be an expression of a playful gesture and deepest desires to add itself a different identity to the public. In addition, Carnival and Fasnacht as harbingers of religiously motivated Lent are rooted in pagan customs. In Europe or Africa  as well as in the Caribbean or South America – Carnival traditions abrogate  for a few days social hierarchies. Especially in restrictive societies there seems to be a need after jester’s licence. Repeatedly artists have emphasized the complex game of appearance and reality in different forms – for auto-biographical reasons as well as for criticism of gender-and race-specific social norms. In particular, since the 1960s (performance)artists have used masquerades as aesthetic-ideological strategy. A characteristic feature of such works is their ambiguity. So any masquerade can be interpreted as a subversive act of liberation, as an expression of non-official cultural values, as an attack on the existing hierarchy of values, as a defense of the body and physicality, and more generally of marginal identities. In the post- modern media age, the masquerade has lost its former potency as an artistic means to a large extent. Parades as Christopher Street Day, Love Parade or other organized mass rallies proclaim an Everything Goes and put the fun factor into the focus.

The exhibition project is curated by Dr. Stefanie Dathe (Museum Villa Rot) and Dr. Axel Lapp (MEWO Kunst-halle). A joint publication with accompanying scientific essays and extensive pictorial material interconnects the exhibition parts.

In cooperation with MEWO Kunsthalle Memmingen