Thomas Woodruff's Freak Parade

Absolute Tattoo

The Freak Parade is a dazzling parade of images that celebrates beauty in aberrance.  The parade’s hapless yet noble characters march gaily across a black expanse, each member on a different panel.  The procession begins with “Anatomy Boy,” an elegant lad flayed from the shoulders down, and ends with “Sweeper,” a grim reaper dressed in a costume that might be described as “heavy metal Watteau.”  All the parade participants are rendered in loving detail and delicately embellished with tiny rhinestones.  Woodruff began this project in late 2000 as a reaction against the global standardization of culture.  Among the references are sideshow banners, Pompeian wall frescoes, Baroque religious paintings, theatrical posters, and Victorian penmanship charts.  References to “normal” parades (Mummers, Tournament of Roses, Mardi Gras, Macy’s) are included but turned on their heads.  Each image has a caption, title, or poem included.  Written by the artist, these texts add another level of meaning to the pictures.  They are deliberately subdued and darkened and subvert the viewer’s usual response, so conditioned through advertising, to image and text.


0.5 x 10 x 14.8 inches, Hardbound, 80 colour pages

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