Postmodern Mediated Theme Parties

Curator's Note

I recently went to a Mardi Gras party, in May, even though not the right season. Plastic decorations on tables: green, purple and gold. The organizer announced, "time to have fun." But there was no carnival. It fell flat. It was a postmodern mediated theme party with the right tri-colored decorations. Does carnival mean something more?

Does buying theme party decorations make for a meaningful form of summer entertainment? According to some postmodern thought, it doesn't matter if something is real or natural. Anything goes! Let's party!

But I wonder. My slide show is a curation of product photos from theme party websites. Looking at the photos, I start to think Mardi Gras is equivalent to the Fourth of July. . .  Carnivals hit on the Equinoxes. The high points and mid-points of the seasons. We feel them in our bodies and relate to their extremes and reversals. Tawdry beauty. Overeating and fasting. The heat before cool. But can carnival sustain reversal? What if carnival were a theme? Like 80s or pirates? Or luau or toga?

When I look at the images of products on the websites of party supply companies, I think "these are just products," neither tawdry nor beautiful. Green, purple, gold, the colors of Carnival, become red, white and blue. The images blur. The mere representation of Mardi Gras is not carnival. Carnivale is a practice, an intangible expression of shared cultural heritage.

The representation of carnival is not enough. Thoughts?

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