The Largest public Halloween event and the only night time parade in the USA
Last night Greenwich Village, New York transformed into a giant public art spectacle, for the 39th year in a row.
Deemed “the nation’s most wildly creative, largest public participatory event,” the New York Village Halloween Parade (VHP) boasted 2 million participants, 50 thousand in costume, performers of all sorts, and giant puppets, spread along 6th Avenue between Spring and 16th St.
Halloween is probably the only time of the year when ever person who takes the time to dress up becomes an artist in their own right.
Participating in Halloween has all the same components as public art: initial ideas, themes, planning, collection and purchase of materials, fabrication and finally installation.
This year’s theme was The i of the Beholder, “the disembodied eye evokes the ancient awe of omniscience and the modern anxiety of surveillance,” so eloquently describes the VHP website. The theme draws on modern technology and the individuals return to power through technology.
This year the parade was laced with anti-Wall Street messages mocking corporate enterprise as many people dressed as “big wigs”.
According to the Washington Post National, “The parade’s artistic and producing director, Jeanne Fleming, said the event ‘is really a reflection, a microcosm, of what’s going on in the world or in the city. Whatever’s up is in the parade,’ she said.”
Fleming has been involved with the parade for over 30 years, directing for over 25.
Another VIP of the event is official puppet artists Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles.
The puppets are an integral part to the event; in fact the event was started in 1974 by a mask-maker and puppeteer by the name of Ralph Lee.
Fleming has featured large-scale puppets throughout her reign as Director, celebrating the roots of the event. Ten years ago, however, HERE Arts Centre began a unique initiative, The Dream Music Puppetry Program; promoting the art of puppetry.
As described by the VHP website,
“Each year the Parade and Dream Music commission 3 artists or groups to design and construct giant pageant sized puppets built around the theme of that year’s parade. The puppets are unveiled at the parade on Halloween night. These puppet commissions act as a catalyst for artists who are emerging in the field, giving them financial support and a risk-free opportunity to realize a specific project.”
Since the parade first started the event has evolved substantially. It has received numerous awards and major grants, and receives extensive media coverage internationally.
It makes a huge cultural impact on New York City, and greatly supports the arts scene. The collaborative environment encourages visual and performing artists to exhibit their art in an environment of creators, participants and viewers.
What do you think of the parade? Have you ever been? What do you think about this year’s theme?
Want to be a part of building world-class artwork like this? firstname.lastname@example.org
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