Several years ago a piece of newspaper astrology (an end of the year piece in The Independant, I think) made the point that we should expect an upswelling of decadence and high times as we step into this new century, and boy, has it been bourne out. The last time I went to the Glastonbury Festival (this would be back in 2000), I was glad to see the beginnings of all this, with Lost Vagueness spawning a trend of mud-spattered ballgowns and tattered top hat 'n tails - as someone who'd been wearing ruffled shirts to perform in at festies since '98, it was a relief not to be the only one constructively overdressed.
Awash with all this now (although strangely alienated from the scene, living in Clermont Ferrand, as I do), I begin to muse on its meaning . Do we search for release? Voyeuristic/exhibitionist thrills? Is it an escape from the increasingly repressive environment of le monde quotidien, or can it become a real challenge to the status quo? Will we end up like the MC in the final scene of Cabaret, singing to an audience of Brownshirts?
I suppose what I'm asking is - where's the radical content? Beyond the shock value? Don't get me wrong - I genuinely don't know where to look - I'm sure this stuff is out there somewhere. It's just that my intuition tells me that a good deal of the scene is ducking the issues (or simply not concerned with them), and I'm interested in communicating with those of you out there who really want to shape this emerging (or reviving) artform into something with a little more punch, more poetry...
I'm reminded of John Fox, writing in Engineers of The Imagination:
"...carnival can all too easily be a surrogate revolution, a placebo used to purge and pacify resistance to oppression, with no real impact on the dominant order"