Private Birthday Party is a private collection of found photographic slides that depict Kansas City’s early drag ball culture throughout the 1950s and 1960s. With over 200 images, this collection is a rare, important look into the rich history of mid-century drag ball culture in middle America.
Thanks Dusti Cunningham!
The Lament for Icarus - Herbert James Draper, 1898
The image of a dead Icarus attended by lamenting nymphs.
In Greek mythology Icarus bore wings made of wax and feathers, created for him by his father, to escape the island of Crete. He was warned to not fly too high (should the sun melt the wax) nor too low (drowning in the sea), but to fly on the course dictated by his father.
Inattentive, he flow too high, losing his wings, and falling into the sea.
This tale is referenced in literature and media, in many forms, articulating that one’s own defiance of rule, or desire to stand out, can result in their own demise.
In the case of Lady Gaga, and her video G.U.Y., in which she depicts a take over of the corporate music machine, the allusion to Icarus at the beginning symbolizes her perceived fall from grace for not conforming to the public’s expectation of a pop star. The difference in her video, however, is that she was seemingly shot down - in my interpretation, Gaga had no problem “flying high”, because she didn’t care about marginal financial losses if it meant her creative vision was met. Unlike Icarus, she could succeed by standing out. Her managers, handlers, and the media at large, though, would not allow that. She was figuratively “shot down” by the limitations put in place, such as the scrapped original VMA peformance, and rushed DWUW music video. She was expected to follow a “safe” course, and when her artistic integrity contradicted the commercial expectation she was reigned in, crippling her attempts to place art ahead of commerce.