It is an ambitious and outstanding tour de force through your childhood. Unexpected and magical…it will stay with you forever and you will want to inevitably go back…like a time machine of some sorts. Berd’s Carnival 2010 will shift your perspective through satirical provocations and personal curiosity and at the same time, from a more sober and objective perspective, shed light on problems of inclusion and disenfranchisement. – Maura Falfan
About: Berd’s Carnival 2010 was inspired by Coney Island and the flat plains of Texas where I grew up. Some elements of Berd’s Carnival were created off site but the actual vision flourished inside the 1000 square foot gallery space. A large structure made of particle board was built within the space, with the assistance of Rainy Lehrman (Graduate Woodshop Manager at the time). About 40 sheets of 4’x8′ plywood were transported 10 at a time by Home Depot push cart, on foot, with the help of a hired laborer, from Home Depot to Pratt (about 8 street blocks). Elements of Berd’s Carnival included a legless horse carousel, a Wonder Wheel Paint Machine, a Coney Island Installation of light and sound, moving sculptures and various types of slots, slats and lenses to look through. After paying a .25 cent fee, one was admitted on voyeuristic terms only, forced to engage with the carnival by peering through various openings. The sounds of Coney Island, along with a string quartet playing pieces from Hitchcock films resonated inside the space. The sounds drifted in and out depending on where you were positioned in the gallery.
List of Thanks:
If you helped in the carnival in any way and I failed to name you, please let me know and thank you!
Building a carnival in 30 days
Installation of Berds Carnival inside Steuben West gallery at Pratt Institute
Photo credit: Garrett Broyles
Withholding and Desire (an excerpt from my written thesis)
Growing up in Lubbock, Texas, there wasn’t a lot to do, so I would decorate the tumble weeds and bring them into the house and plant them in the carpet. I would watch my grandmothers sew blankets of colorful scraps together and give them away as gifts. My brothers and I would wait in anticipation as our mother would finish pulling the last stitch in our handmade clothes. On the weekends in the warmer seasons I couldn’t wait to ride the John Deer with my grandpa. The earth was moved into perfect repetitive lines that would fade away as the bright yellow sun went down on them. The state fair would come to town every Fall and me and my brothers would await our grandparent’s arrival. My grandpa would pull up in that grand ship of an LTD, the gleam of hub cabs and the smell of burning rubber lingered at the curb, and a streak of light blue paint flung against that flat Texas landscape. We were on our way to the fair! At the fair, I enjoyed accompanying my grandmother to the arts and crafts exhibition where I saw blankets similar to the ones she made. I was intrigued how a single stitch could be so universal and bring so many different cultures together. Being brought up in middle-America with only the bare essentials, my imagination was aroused. It created a desire to obtain more, and an appreciation for the things were fortunate to have.
Unlike most carnivals where the viewer has complete access to the entire experience, Berd’s Carnival seduces the viewer through the use of lights and sound. There are shadows of an obscured, spinning, and a life size carousel projects through an off white screen at the entrance of the space. Set up like a real carnival, a fee of .25 cents is charged for admittance into the event to view the curiosities, which is paid at the token booth outside of the space. Once inside, the viewer is denied complete access into the inner workings of the carnival by the ten foot walls that surround it. The experience of having complete access to the art is inverted and the viewer is forced to the parameters of the space, appreciating the work from afar by looking into the carnival through various entry points. By withholding complete access from the viewer my intent is to generate a desire to obtain more. I am interested in giving just enough information, in not giving all the answers, instead, creating a space in which one is asked to think critically of what is before one, and not afraid to creatively imagine the rest. If one looks close enough into the carnival, one may realize the spare inner workings that seem to almost contradict the immense energy felt within the space. Similar to my experience of growing up in a rural town, my intent is to overwhelm the audience with as little as possible, leaving them yearning for more, but also, fulfilled.