With appropriate fanfare and screams in the gallery, the theme of next year’s Met Gala is announced. The red carpet event has become a venerable institution, but for the past 70 years, visitors from the Metropolitan Museum’s annual fundraiser gala happen to be thrilling the style world with more and more astonishing outfits, each one of these riffing on the party’s theme from the summertime show in the Met’s Costume Institute. Next year’s exhibition is a celebration of Susan Sontag’s seminal 1960s essay, Notes on “Camp”.
Also perfect theme for that ball, a celebration already swimming in tongue-in-oral cavity pastiche, then “camp”? Sontag described the camp as “the consistently aesthetic experience around the globe. It incarnates a victory of ‘style’ over ‘content’, ‘aesthetics’ over ‘morality’, of irony over tragedy.” Not only simple flamboyance, camp revels in playing in the serious until it might be absurd, “dethroning” it. Taste be damned – several things are extremely bad they become good. The camp provides for us a sideways consider the world if you take the frivolous seriously while acknowledging that everything, within the finish, is artifice.
When Sontag authored Notes on “Camp” in 1964, the cultural landscape looked quite different from today, obviously. Significance was an order during the day sombre articles profiled worthy painters, who grappled using the deep questions about what existence, dying, and art really meant. The skill world involved to obtain the shock of their existence when Andy Warhol along with a new generation of artists exploded to the scene, using their passion for popular culture, consumer sensibilities and lightweight-hearted aesthetic outlook. However, their camp wasn’t all silliness – behind the brightness lay a smart make an effort to wrestle having a different view around the globe. In the end, it appeared to become saying, wasn’t the culture that came before, significant men finding important facts for society by looking into making significant drips on enormous canvases, just like silly?
Today’s cultural landscape owes a great deal to pop art’s dependence on artifice. From movies to political campaigns, nothing could be created today without having to be instantly consumed, sliced up, repurposed and ironised within hrs on social networking. The camp may be the new cultural regime. Actually, should you be searching for among modern camp, you could do this worse than searching at, well, every Met Gala previously decade. 2010 theme from the Catholic Imagination saw bejewelled crucifixes and dazzling mitres a-go-go, with Rihanna dressing being an archbishop, Madonna donning a black mantilla along with a golden crown, and Katy Perry appearing being an angel, filled with golden chainmail and 10ft-high Versace wings. The issue for next year’s competitors – sorry, visitors – is the fact that when both culture and also the regular Met Gala has already been so deeply, wonderfully campy, how do you go one better and camp up camp?