On a rainy Wednesday last week, my childhood and forever friend Holli (aka Hollis Rafkin-Sax), headed to the much publicized Camp exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It turned out to be an unforgettable afternoon. The only thing was, we thought we were going to a real camp exhibit but were not disappointed when we learned otherwise.
Our first big laugh (at ourselves) was when we entered the exhibit we realized this wasn’t a show about overnight camps, but out being campy and what that means and where this camp movement stemmed from. And, it turned out to be the best afternoon at Camp I can remember.
Susan Sontag had written volumes about what “camp” is. “It’s not just style, or vision, it’s “a vision of the world in terms of style — but a particular kind of style. It is the love of the exaggerated, the “off,” of things-being-what-they-are-not. “
Stuff that is Camp includes performance art and literature and ballet and opera and clothing. It’s Judy Garland (who serenaded us during the show). It’s garish and over the top and exaggerated and that’s why this exhibit was the perfect place to play with my girlfriend. We entered a magical fantasy world, that felt playful and childlike and spent an afternoon imagining dressing up in the world’s best closet. It was liberating to look at the out of the box fashions and imagine wearing them (or not).
We embraced all that Camp can serve up that afternoon as Camp is generous and non-judging enjoyment, it’s Carmen Miranda and Versailles and Gucci and McQueen. It’s feminine and frivolous and outrageous and silly. And so were we.
Camp is creative inventive and a real movement that we know about but have not fully understood as something we could define. But now we can. and hope to visit Camp more regularly in our own lives.