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What is camp? Listen John Cena The Champ Is Here shirt . if you haven’t figured it out by now maybe you never will! Over the past two months, one trillion lists and listicles have been written on camp, stabbing at the idea of artifice and style and exaggeration. Andrew Bolton, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute and the effective arbiter of all things campy, sees these many definitions as the epitome of camp itself.
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“I think one of the defining elements of camp are the lists that people keep providing,” he says John Cena The Champ Is Here shirt . “The endless list is, finally, the definite mark of camp.”In the exhibition “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” which opens in the museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall on May 9, Bolton provides his own definitions for camp. He starts with a bit of history in the show’s first galleries, which he describes as “kind of serious, apart from the bright pink walls.” Here, the etymological history of the word camp is explored through historic objects, fashion, and art. Camp as a verb is the first usage, in Molière’s 1671 play The Adventures of Scapin—an original copy of the play is displayed in a glass vitrine with a tiny figure of Scapin. Alongside fashion from Erdem’s Spring 2019 collection, you can read about camp as an adjective used in the 19th century as a code for homosexuality. Later, Oscar Wilde appears beside definitions of camp as a noun. Then Christopher Isherwood’s writings on high and low camp, and finally viewers will walk into a checklist-like square gallery where some of the 58 bullets from Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp’ ” are illustrated with items from the museum’s collection. If this sounds deadly serious and, like, totally not camp—pay closer attention to the details.“To be honest, English is not my first language, so initially I had no idea what Camp meant. I thought we were going camping!” admits the Argentine-born de Betak. Once she researched the concept, she fully committed.
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