“The monsters of our childhood do not fade away, neither are they ever wholly monstrous”
― John le Carré
My new series of work called ‘My Monster Amigo’ plays with the idea of the monsters my generation grew up with, the movies we would watch in secret late at night even when we weren't supposed to or were not old enough to see, as if that would stop us. The way we couldn't sleep for days after but would still be coming back for more.
These experiences however left an imprint in our minds and hearts and we ended up recalling these movie monsters and villains with great fondness. We no longer fear them, they have become old friends, family even like a distant cousin. We remember who we were with, the circumstances that led us to them, the renting or the secret swapping of the VHS tape in school or the local video shop, or just staying up late with our friends or siblings. We remember the good times.
So I decided to show these monsters in another light, as our childhood friends. Hanging out with our misunderstood buddies, sharing moments, kid moments. A juxtapose of innocence and ‘terror’. The narrative belongs to you, some may still find it creepy or disconcerting but the happiness of the child washes that away.
Filled with nostalgia I wanted to keep it simple and went with cardboard and acrylic as a medium, loosely inspired by the look of old Ladybird books I had grown up with and keeping a vintage feel to them. A bit of a departure from my tea based art which most know me for.
“Monsters cannot be announced. One cannot say: 'Here are our monsters,' without immediately turning the monsters into pets.”
― Jacques Derrida
Most children go through a phase where they are fascinated by Monsters and villains.
Why?, Because they’re normal kids, says Beth Block, an Austin, TX-based child therapist. "We all contain both good and evil," she says. "Most kids are seeking a sense of control over powerful emotions, so they identify with extreme versions of bad guys like Darth Vader, who can represent these feelings."
Yes, it can be a concerning when your child is running around menacing a little brother with a sword or threatening to "melt" her sister while wearing a witch's hat -- especially when it seems other children are pretending to be firemen or fairies. But kids need to playact their feelings. And, says Block, violence is usually not the main draw. In fact, a California State University study about the appeal of movie monsters found that superhuman strength and intelligence -- two potentially good qualities -- were the top traits that villain-lovers liked in their bad guys. Fans were interested in the monsters' rejection of the rules, rather than their capacity for violence.
Remember, too, that evil never really triumphs in these books and movies. In the end, good always prevails
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
― Albert Einstein
Somewhere along the line, we have gained more of an appreciation for monsters. Maybe facing our fears or humanizing our horrors; whatever the reason, our culture has started seeing a friendlier brand of monster over the years.
Universal Picture’s black and white monsters were emotionless cretins, a new breed of monsters now have human emotions, fears and insecurities of their own. Those emotions let children relate, and eradicate any fear of these ‘grotesque’ creatures. Once the fear is gone, monsters are just like people, only they may look a little strange.
“It's poor judgment', said Grandpa 'to call anything by a name. We don't know what a hobgoblin or a vampire or a troll is. Could be lots of things. You can't heave them into categories with labels and say they'll act one way or another. That'd be silly. They're people. People who do things. Yes, that's the way to put it. People who *do* things.”
― Ray Bradbury, The October Country
This series is currently available here: http://www.graysartgallery.com/FLUX-EXHIBITION/Carlos-M-Burgos-At-FLUX/
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