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Art Show: Sideshow

The Shooting Gallery

by David Mott

Banner for Sideshow art show

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This piece was created specifically for the Sideshow show.

This was created using daguerotrypes/tintypes of early photography, with heavy repainting and manipulation.

Upon reading the prospectus I was quite intrigued as I am a bit of a Coney Island buff. I have a small collection of antique Coney Island memorablia and research for my show idea gave me some happy hours going through my collection. All started a few years ago when I was lucky enough to catch an episode of American Experience: Coney Island and I was hooked.

When I lived in New York, we would travel to the beach at Coney Island to lie on the beach, have a Nathan's hotdog and soak up the atmosphere...I was incredulous to see that a small handful of the freakshows that were a part of Dreamland in it's heyday are still there...for 50 cents you could see the two headed baby, the woman with 3 legs etc.

This image speaks to me of the lure of the past and the very American phenomenon of the Freak show. I wanted to portray the familiar as well as something that could possibly repulse. Something that would stir the imagination, render a sympathic response.

What is it about the sideshow that stirs such curiosity in us? Is it our fear of imperfection, our own oddities?

I suppose we are all freaks in our own way when it comes right down to it.

She demands that you take a look, she won't even ask for 2 bits, for you the show is free.

"Tis true my form is something odd,

but blaming me is blaming god.

Could I create myself anew,

I would not fail in pleasing you.

Was I so tall, could reach the pole,

or grasp the ocean with a span;

I would be measured by the soul.

The mind's the standard of the man."

a poem often quoted by Joseph (John) Carey Merrick


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