Campy explanation of Camp

 

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“La presentazione per exempla, scelta a lungo quasi obbligatoria, non chiarisce – semmai, appunto, spiazza e seduce a una percezione ironicamente complice. Il camp comprende infatti figure disparate come Oscar Wilde e Madonna, Andy Warhol e Greta Garbo, David Bowie e Judy Garland, Fassbinder e Elton John, Philip Johnson e George Petty, Jean Cocteau e i Velvet Underground, Erte e le Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, Angela Carter e Aubrey Beardsley, Versailles e Gore Vidal, la Marchesa Luisa Casati e Robert Mapplethorpe, la mai-troppo-compianta Regina Madre e Pedro  Almodovar, Coco Chanel e Kenneth Anger, Philip Johnson e Cecil Beaton, Bette Davis e Divine, e tanti altri. Come può aggregare sfer culturali così distanti e ordini estetici altrettanto diversi – aristocrazia, piccola borghesia e sottocultura, il pantheon delle divine con il qui-e-ora mercatino delle pulci, il sublime estetico di Visconti con il trash di John Waters?

Il camp non può essere affrontato riparando alla sua eterogeneità, rendendolo didascalicamente codice condiviso e intellegibile. Marca di esuberanza, la cifra del camp è un travestimento psichico che lo rende volubile, evanescente, inafferrabile. Perchè il camp non è una proprietà oggettuale, pienamente catalogabile e condivisibile: è un processo dinamico, una relazione indiscreta fra oggetto e sguardo che improvvisa uno spazio di performance, una complicità ed un senso di solidarietà mobili, tanto esclusivi quanto necessariamente clandestini. Il camp accade: “trova luogo là dove sguardo e oggetto si travestono, fanno spazio a un narcisismo sfrenato e autoironico, e si mettono in scena a un grado secondo di plausibilità, innaturale e ‘fra virgolette’, diventando camp. In breve, il camp accade e eccede, attraversa e scardina le dicotomie stesse che sollecita e comprende l’inconciliabile.”

Introducing what Camp is with example, choice that seems to be forced, doesn’t make its meaning clear, but, indeed, confuses our ideas. Camp style really collects very different characters, such as Oscar Wilde and Madonna, Andy Warhol and Greta Garbo, David Bowie and Judy Garland, Fassbinder and Elton John, Philip Johnson and George Petty, Jean Cocteau and the Velvet Underground, Erte and the Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, Angela Carter and Aubrey Beardsley, Versailles and Gore Vidal, the Marchesa Luisa Casati and Robert Mapplethorpe, the never-enough-lamented Queen Mother and Pedro  Almodovar, Coco Chanel and  Kenneth Anger, Philip Johnson and Cecil Beaton, Bette Davis and Divine, and many others.

How can Camp style mix together so distant cultural spheres and aesthetic orders – aristocracy, middle class and subculture, the pantheon of stars and the here-and-now  flea market, the sublime aesthetic of Visconti and John Waters’s trash?

Camp style can’t be faced trying to make sense to its heterogeneity, thinking to it as a shared and easily understandable code. Sign of extreme exuberance , the distinguishing mark of it is the psychological disguise, that makes it difficult to grasp, changable and fickle. Camp isn’t an object property, totally cataloguable and understandable: it is a dynamic process, an indiscreet relationship between the objec and the eyes, that while is seeing is, at the same time, improvising on a performance space, it is a sort of mobile complicity and solidarity, as much exclusive as necessarily clandestine.

Camp style happens: it “takes place” where the glance and the object disguise, where they make room for an unbridled and self-ironic narcissism, and they start acting a second  level of plausibility, unnatural and “in quotation marks”, becoming Camp. In a nutshell, Camp style happens and exceeds, it goes throug and takes off its hinges, and it comprises things that cannot be comprised at all.

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