I’m making historical artifacts documenting the strange and strained relationship between humans and obeasts. At the moment I have two projects that I’m actively working on (and dozens more in the hopper): The History of Cornhole and obeasts in sideshows.
- The History of Cornhole: If you don’t know (I didn’t until I moved to the South), cornhole is a lawn game that involves tossing bags of corn or beans into or toward a hole in a board. In my experience, it is commonly favored by lower and rising-middle class men. It is also coded as ‘white’ in my experience, but my research on this has not been exhaustive by any means. There is some mystery about how the game of cornhole came to be; it loosely resembles a game played by Native Americans. For my Obeast Cornhole project I am reworking the history of cornhole to be about the clash of obeasts and Midwestern corn farmers around the turn of the 20th century. I just finished making a set of cornhole boards that are reproductions of the original boards. The plan is to incorporate these in an installation with historical photos and an 20’s style animation of a farmer shootin’ himself some pesky obeasts.
- Sideshow Obeasts: Before reality tv and facebook, sideshows offered the American public opportunities to gawk at the strange and unusual. In addition to the human ‘freaks’, sideshows drew crowds by exhibiting animals from exotic places as well as animals that were rare specimens of familiar species. Since obeasts were as familiar to Americans as black bears and bison, the specimens that traveled with sideshows had to be something special. To that end I am making an Albino Obeast banner and a Man-eating Obeast banner. This latter banner will be accompanied by historical information about an obeast that caused all kind of trouble in the Catskill Mountains by attacking humans. The banner’s advertisement of a ‘man-eater’ would have likely been a convenient exaggeration of the actual events.