Venice Carnival Masks
February 20, 2024 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Now I see what I've been doing wrong: I just wear a mask, not 60 pounds of costume.
posted by acrasis at 3:16 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]

The scariest to me still is the 49 cent black mask from the five and dime. Truman Capote picked one up at FAO Schwartz on the way to the black and white ball he hosted at the Plaza hotel in the 60s..
Still being talked about today.
posted by Czjewel at 3:45 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]

I feel like there's an iconography happening here that I don't understand. To my eyes it is all "let's get as frou frou as possible" but there are enough repeated elements that I'm sure there are symbols happening that are foreign to me.

I do apologize for the music. It wouldn't have been my first choice, but I didn't make the video. Also, is it all slowed down 10% or something? There's a dreamlike quality to this video that transcends merely the visuals and music.

Anyway, I have no idea what Carnival in Venice is about. I see Mardi Gras in New Orleans which is sort of an American Puritan reflection of Carnivale in Brazil. But Venice? I don't know much about this at all.

The costumes are amazing, however. I should have framed this post better to draw more in.
posted by hippybear at 4:15 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]

Something along the same lines, complete with Vivaldi...
posted by jim in austin at 5:36 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]

To my eyes it is all "let's get as frou frou as possible" but there are enough repeated elements that I'm sure there are symbols happening that are foreign to me.

I am not from Venice. I am not an Italian. And this is an interest not any kind of specialty. But I can tell you that traditional Carnival costumes and masks borrowed from the (similarly masked) Commedia dell'arte "types" that come out of four stock character groups (among them Zanni (servants) which is where, say, Harlequin comes from. Those characters/masks are still part of the Venice Carnival iconography.
posted by thivaia at 5:42 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]

Right okay, I can get that, except that I've actually studied those characters a bit and didn't see them really well represented in the video? There were hints and echoes, but it felt like there was a lot of things that were well outside of that tradition on display?

I mean, I don't know, I only know what I saw on the screen.
posted by hippybear at 7:09 PM on February 20

I'd chalk some of the differences up to traditions changing and being flexible, because commedia dell'arte characters seem like a match compared to relevant contrasts that are also interesting in themselves, e.g. ...
  • the Bal des Ardents (late medieval masquerade in 'wild man' costumes that caught fire)
  • Catherine de Medici's late Renaissance court festivals (depicted without masks but frequently noted as having mythological themes, as in a couple of LARP-ish parlor games that were dedicated to her)
  • Jacobean / Shakespeare-era masques with mythological themes like The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses or The Masque of Beauty
  • Scottish guising (in false beards, painted eyemasks, clothes turned inside out, clothes that play with gender signifiers, clothes covered with flour, paper masks with strange imagery, wearing a face mask over their privates and a kerchief over their face, wearing a pillowcase on their head, wearing straw ropes on their legs, monstrous masks woven from straw, or especially colorful clothing)
  • the early 18th C. Mardi Gras festivals Les Grandes Nuits de Sceaux organized by the Duchess of Maine, which were a real mix of mythological, medieval, and more contemporary references
  • New Orleans Mardi Gras costumes from the late 1800s (just amazing)
The costumes in the video on the other hand seem pretty reminiscent of the ones in François Rousseau's 1754 painting "Maskenball in der Residenz zu Bonn, Inneres des Hoftheaters im kurfürstlichen Schloss." But in describing the painting, this dissertation by Anne Beryl Wallen offers this observation:
An occasional commedia dell’arte figure or a priest costume might be picked out, but the majority of the costumes require specialist knowledge. While the eighteenth-century participants would have been able to decode the different types of costumes and their connotations, to us they often appear to blend into a kaleidoscopic mass of fancy dress
Which I imagine could be true here too.
posted by Wobbuffet at 7:45 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]

I hear it's been a thing for a minute[slyt]...
posted by Chuffy at 8:37 PM on February 20

Masks... Boy, does that take me back.
posted by y2karl at 3:10 PM on February 21 [2 favorites]

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