Friday, February 11, 2022

Tea for Two in the Piazza (San Marco)

13 February 2018


  1. I have a doubt here, maybe you can help. During the Carnavale, those people that dress fancy and are sorraunded by photographers are Venetian residents? or is it outsiders playing fancy?

  2. The vast majority of people in costume, as well as the vast majority of people with cameras, are not Venetians, Jon. The only exceptions to this are young Venetian children (who usually dress as Spidermen and princesses or Minions or something) and adult Venetians who are paid to wear their costumes (and host events such as the costume competition that used to take place each afternoon on the stage constructed in Piazza San Marco--but will not this year, nor last, either). The other exceptions are the members of the local Venetian rowing clubs who make up the water parades each year.

    That's why, as much as the costumed folks and the photogs look to be enjoying themselves, it's not really a Venetian event--though everyone told me that it was *very* local in the first few years that Carnevale was re-introduced in the late 1970s, before being quickly co-opted by, or sold out to, tourist interests. The whole thing is now contracted out to private companies to run.

    I enjoyed shooting the spectacle of it, as people are people whether local or from far away, and it was nice to see those who were having fun, but aside from the historical setting, it was a bit like a cat show in a convention center: an exhibition with a very limited socio-cultural function in what remains of the living city. Of course Carnevale has always had an important tourist element in it, and certainly in the 18th century its main aim was to lure outsiders in for the benefit of the local economy. And the Carnevale di Venezia is hardly alone in being a once-culturally-and-religiously-significant event in a community's calendar that is now little more than a commercialized occasion for dress-up--I think that's one of the definitions or symptoms of the "post-modern condition".