Cabinet of Curiosities: An Imaginary Menagerie
In 1842 PT Barnum attached the head of a monkey to a taxidermied fish and the Fiji Mermaid was born!
We laugh now, but Barnum’s Museum was the Carnivalesque forerunner of what became the modern science museum. He straddled a past in which private obsessions with nature’s aberrations produced Cabinets of Curiosity filled with real and imagined natural relics, and today’s future where CRISPR gene-splicing technology promises to unleash a host of unholy hybrids into our midst.
Halloween, of course, revels in hybrids, mash-ups and the frisson of crossed identities.
We know, as Mary Shelley did in 1818, that the scariest thing in Frankenstein was not the monster but the Doctor, who presumed to create new life out of a patchwork of lifeless parts.The human urge to invent life has bloomed with time, as our fixation on cryptozoologic wonders produces Sasquatch footprints, blurry Loch Ness Monster photos, and Chupacabra crime scenes. The Fiji Mermaid is alive and well, and our collective Cabinet of Wonder has grown exponentially.Where Barnum and Dr. Frankenstein used needle and thread, geneticists are using GT-scans and configurators, but the result is the same: the sleep of reason breeds monsters.
So, as we approach Frankenstein’s bicentennial, we are building our own Cabinet of Wonders, the Parade itself!
Official Parade Puppeteers will lead the way with a bestiary of fantastic hybrids, culled from the hallowed halls of Cryptozoology, inviting our volunteers to build and animate our imaginary menagerie in our annual puppeteraisings.
We call on everyone else to fill the route with creations of your own, bringing forth new life from old to create our own Imaginary Menagerie on Halloween Night!
Artistic and Producing Director
Alex Kahn & Sophia Michahelles
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
so says the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland