Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fake vs Authentic vs Real

Karima Cammell

Ever since people began celebrating Carnival in the Middle Ages, they’ve used it as a chance to free themselves from society’s ideas of how they can behave, dress, and otherwise express themselves. During a few weeks each year “the rules” are upended, and no one knows whether the person behind the mask is a prince, a pauper, or a complete stranger.

This opportunity can be challenging for people who feel uncomfortable dressing up and pretending to be someone they’re not. Sometimes, wearing a costume can make us feel we’re “putting on airs,” faking our way through a social situation. Some people put on a subtle costume every day, and when they feel terrible about it, their souls can suffer tremendously.

Duncan Brown

But what if we take up the spirit of Carnival and do the opposite, behaving and dressing in ways that are truer to who we really are? This personal authenticity is what I strive for in my own life, my art, and the way I run Castle in the Air. The people I surround myself with, and the friends I keep for the long haul, are those who live life with open hearts and aren’t afraid to show it.

Duncan Brown

Karima Cammell and Duncan Brown

In Venice, I saw people wearing costumes and personalities that were obviously different from the way they looked and acted the rest of the year. Carnival is a time to try it on, maybe exorcizing a few demons in the process, and even if I didn’t happen to like the characters I met, who am I to judge?

Karima Cammell as Lady Venice

When I look at some of the pictures of myself from my time in Venice, I see fake hair, a fake face, fake flowers, fake everything! But the authenticity of individual pieces of my costume is immaterial. What matters is that when I put them together and joined in the parade, part of me felt as though it had been freed from a cage. I felt seen for who I truly am, even if it came off as a caricature of myself.

Aimee Baldwin as Mata Hari

Personal truth is something we can hide from others, but we can never hide it from ourselves. The living of a life true to who we are is a gift we have to give ourselves, because no one else can. More often than not, though, we deny the gift, or let others take it from us.

Adrienne Simpson

We don’t have to wait for Carnival to step outside our comfort zones and show the world who we really are. Life gives us enough opportunities to explore inauthentic ways of being. The opportunity—and yes, the challenge—of Carnival is to recognize the ways we are false, to find those parts of ourselves we’ve tucked away for whatever reason, put them on without shame, and step out into the street in search of others doing the same.

John McRae


Ingrid Pomeroy said...

Truly wonderful, Karima!

Anonymous said...

Caskey asks:
I am so curious about your time in Venice. I would think being in and surrounded by all those marvelous costumes would make you feel like you were in an alternate realm , and time. A bit like being inside a hallucination. I wonder if the slipping back and forth between "reality" and non reality was unnerving.

Three Loons said...


Ann Martin said...

What an amazing experience you had. The beautiful photos transported me to Venice for a moment.

Sandra Evertson said...

Beautiful, Karima…. I love this post and so totally get it! xoxo

Asha Dornfest said...

So beautiful, Karima! The costumes, the message, the intent, and the heart behind all of it.

Marfi-topia said...

great it, the photos are amazing!

rochambeau said...

Hi Karima,
Fantastic post! Fascinating topic, great photographs too. I know someone who does not like to wear costumes, however. Her sister is big into Costumery. It is curious. I feel more of myself a costume. Just adore it! Also, what you say about everyday clothing. All clothing is a costume, don't you think?

Hooray for costumes!!