We are excited to unveil the fourth installation in a series of 20 Theatre Bizarre canvas banners from the annual Halloween party’s artistic mastermind, John Dunivant, as he returns with Wild Women of Borneo. Read on for a few flicks from Theatre Bizarre and stay tuned through out 2013 as we continue to roll out new banners and even more new work from John Dunivant. Read on as John discusses the upcoming banners project in the 1xRUN Thru…
1xRUN: Tell us a bit about this series of banners from Theatre Bizarre, how many are there so far?
John Dunivant: I’ve been painting these over the course of the last eleven years and have 42 in total. For this series I’m picking a few of my favorites to release as prints. The banners mainly started out based on friends and then grew to include other characters that could be used as a device for telling stories from this developing world. The banners became one of my favorite things to create at Theatre Bizarre, partly because they are intentionally painted in a naive manner and the immediacy at this scale is so much fun. I’ve been wanting to have reproductions of these for a long time, but was never really happy with how they translated and how they were presented, but I love the way these turned out. They have a hand-made, two inch deep frame that the canvas is wrapped around and appear a bit like they are floating. No need for frames!
1xRUN: Tell us a little bit about the Wild Women of Borneo, how did this banner come about?
John Dunivant: Wild Women of Borneo was painted in 2007. It was a bit of a tribute to a couple of things. There was a traditional small sideshow character that has been used through many carnivals Eeka. Eeka was the female “geek” carnival act. A geek carnival act is generally the lowest carnival act, mostly unsigned performers, they would stop from town to town and pick up the local drunk and pay them some money to bite the heads off of chickens, that type of thing. They would pay the guy and then kick him out so they wouldn’t have to transport him. Then they started doing that same thing with women, so that was how Eeka came about. So lots of artists have done their versions of Eeka, there is a bit of this repeating theme, so I wanted to take that and pull from that because I’ve always loved the Eeka banners and the whole concept of “the geek”.
It also came from a friend of mine who’s band Snake Out has played Theatre Bizarre many times, they have been one of my favorite bands on any stage. they have two women, Tina and Brenda, that operate the flamethrowers and dress like savage women, so this is also tribute to them. There is a little shrunken head and that was always meant to be Len the lead singer of “Snake Out”.
1xRUN: Where did the Wild Women of Borneo sit in Theatre Bizarre?
John Dunivant: While we were in the grounds we had just started to expand this piece sat in the newly formed arcade section. Then when we moved to the Masonic it is really all of the place at different banner walls. It’s sat in the secret society room and a few other places. It was one of the most fun banners I have ever painted, it was a blast to paint. It was also the one that I picked to be the face of the banners for the Cranbrook show.
1xRUN: Can you tell us about that recent exhibition at the Cranbrook Museum?
John Dunivant: I was asked to take part in Cranbrook’s first exhibition at their newly renovated art museum. The show was called “No Object is an Island” and each piece was meant to be in dialogue with something from the Cranbrook collection. My banners were placed in dialogue with a shrunken head from the collection of their science museum, I felt a strong kinship with that little fellow. During the process of the show I was able to explore the museums archives, which was an experience I’ll never forget, I got to wear white gloves and hold some unbelievable objects, including another shrunken head that was considered to be one of the most controversial items in Cranbrook’s collection and not to be shown on display, ever! The exhibition was incredible and it was such an honor to be apart of it, especially since my piece was flanked by a Robert Rauschenberg and an Andy Warhol. I still can’t believe I was in that show.