strange_complex: (Me Huginn beak kiss)
And this one I saw a fortnight ago, again with [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan and [livejournal.com profile] planet_andy, but this time at the Media Museum in Bradford. It's actually a documentary, charting the history of the Alternative Miss World contest - a sort of bohemian art event that the sculptor Andrew Logan has been running since the early seventies. I hadn't heard of it before, but it looks amazing - all about encouraging unbridled, experimental creativity, including challenging gender boundaries, mainstream fashion paradigms and so forth. It reminded me rather a lot of some of the masked balls I've been to, but on a far grander and crazier scale.

The structure of the documentary splices the long-term history of Andrew Logan as an artist and the contest since 1972 with a shorter-scale micro-history of his preparations for the most recent event in 2009. He comes across as a lovely guy - very passionate about his work, keen to share it with as many people as possible, and with a great sense of humour about the contest, including its trials and tribulations. There was absolutely no pretentiousness about him, but just the very Britishness of the title - tongue-in-cheek self-deprecation about the whole process, but coupled with an underlying steely dedication to putting on the best contest yet.

The visual style of the documentary really did its subject justice, too. The early contests in particular are only preserved via a few fairly grainy photos, but the design made a virtue of this by using a scrap-booking aesthetic, with lots of collage-style images made up of still photos, decorative images and some animation, all inter-spliced with the standard documentary-style footage of the preparations for the 2009 contest. We all agreed afterwards that it was very much like Terry Gilliam's contributions to the Monty Python experience, complete with the same aura of British surrealist humour.

I don't know how widely this is showing, but I imagine it will crop up on late-night Channel 4 at some stage. If you like watching people pushing the boundaries of costume, fashion and identity, it's worth checking out.

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