The Crossroads of Creepypasta and Chimeras
Art and authorship can bring difficult and open subject matter to a general audience. This time of year and this year in particular the general subject of monsters is seemingly everywhere. "It" is an immense theme. So how do you go about tackling huge ideas?
Almost every day I pass a statue of a half lion, half winged mythical being. I love it. It is fantastical, stately and it guards the doors. I have no ill will toward it, I feel like it adds to the daily grind of coming and going and returning the next day. It is known as a Chimera. I also know that Chimerism is real, but not in this way. A classic example being of a kitten that is half tabby and half calico, with the chromosomes presenting in a vertical apparent line right down the center of its being. It is hard to think of a kitten as a type of monster. Axiomatic thinking can lead us there sometimes.
Of monsters, mutants, mermaids and much more I read, fantasies which to me and many are more than mere mythology. They are a way out of the hard to explain. Do you remember Miss “Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and why they are compelled to hide? Monsters are just as weary of us. Another book that is a great read for all ages is “City of a Thousand Dolls” which deals with issues of lineage and abandonment. Again, using something peculiar as an instrument to voice very real emotions and answering the question of place. Fodder for thought and inspiration is the line between creature and person.
A brief investigation into the history of the monstrous will bring to light medical history and teratology or the study of monsters. Monsters are hugely thematic in art as well. I have created monsters. We teach our children to dress as monsters at Halloween, Guillermo Del Toro has a huge exhibit at the AGO this fall on his fascination with the unusual. Monsters have always been money makers, which is an incentive in itself to keep them around. Societies have been cashing in on the plights of the odd since the time of discovery and certainly the unknown has given life to many institutions from museums to zoos, to galleries, to libraries. We as humans are just drawn to the mysterious.
Monsters appear in fairytales and folklore. They are the “creepypasta” of today and the warnings of a different time. The term monstrous can indicate scale, monstrosity means something more garish, and monster can be anyone who does not conform to society’s standard of the norm. It would be very easy to take a look at a presentation and apply these alternate meanings to specific examples. Like the Chimera out front, I can visualize being small and maybe being a little (okay very) afraid. Yet coming from a place of knowledge and explanations I’ve come to think that monsters are important because they make us ask “Why?” Why am I looking at this? Why does this version of life differ from another? Why me and not someone else? Why are you here? Monsters are themselves the culmination of existential dilemmas. The emotion is fear, the monster is the solution as visual representation. Presenting a monster well is a challenge, done correctly it can be a true character loved or feared and not a caricature.
Q: Why do people keep monsters around?
A: They must be necessary.