Tag Archives: halloween

halloween 2012: kiki de montparnasse in emak-bakia

film stills of man ray films
[heads up: there is an animated gif at the end of this post!]

i must admit, i was feeling a bit overworked and uninspired around halloween this year. i realized about a week before halloween i hadn’t really planned anything ahead of time, and was dogged by the fact that so many of my dream costumes reference ridiculously obscure early cinema or 1970s performance artists. this lead to me briefly debating choosing something super recognizeable as a costume instead… but after looking back at my costumes over the past six years, and remembering what it is i truly enjoy about this holiday (instead of focusing on what i hate about it) i settled on something.

in the end, i decided i wanted to have an excuse to cut my bangs (which no one even noticed!) and to once again not give a shit if anyone “got” my costume. i also spent a fair bit of october re-watching some of my favourite silent films. i don’t know what it is about this time of year that just feels perfect to watch the world in black and white.

it was after re-watching Emak-Bakia that it came to me. Emak-Bakia, (basque for Leave me alone) is a 1926 film directed by Man Ray. “Subtitled as a cinépoéme, it features many new and innovative filming techniques used by Man Ray, including Rayographs, double exposures, soft focus and ambiguous features.” one of its stars also happens to be one of my icons.

so a simple but still creepy costume idea popped into my head: it still fell into my category of dressing up as my dream women of the past, all while still being slightly off-kilter, a bit unnerving. without further ado, here is my transformation from julia to kiki de montparnasse in emak-bakia.


makeup step 2
steph did my awesome eyelid makeup after i botched several attempts… pretty tough to do yourself

ta-dam! the end result.


black and white witchy women
steph dressed up as a black and white witch, which was incredibly impressive.

silent film stars and witches collide
silent film stars and witches collide!

we were a bit disappointed by some of the halloween parties we checked out, so we just decided to wander around the city a bit. it was a blustery fall night, so perfect for wandering near our favourite cemetary…

cimetière st. matthew



the moon was almost full, the cemetary gates were locked, so off we headed home.

the original inspiration:

and the result:

julia dressed up as kiki de montparnasse in emak-bakia for halloween 2012

we were a bit underwhelmed by most of the costumes we saw out and about. aside from one particularly well-done “1980s grade school class picture” costume no one really stopped me in my tracks. a lot of people playfully chide me for choosing obscure costume ideas, but it is tough to find something equal parts creepy and crowd pleasing. i’d rather just go for something that tickles my fancy in the end.

also, if you’re new around here and haven’t seen my halloween costumes from the past, they are all up on flickr. check it out!

what did you dress up as? what were the best halloween costumes you saw this year? leave photos and links in the comments!


Filed under halloween, quebec city, self-portraits

halloween 101 for critical thinkers

halloween is a tricky time of year for me, and for lots of critical folks. i’ve written about it many times over the years, and for the most part it often feels like my concerns and criticisms are ignored. but! this year i’ve found myself pleasantly surprised. i’ve been spotting these interesting articles and images around poor judgement around halloween cotumes scattered across countless different social networks, but thought i might pull them all together into one useful webspace.

consider this your syllabus, and the internet your professor. welcome to halloween 101: for critical thinkers.

firstly, let us conquer the unfortunately all too familiar problem of race drag as a halloween costume:

[Image: A young Native person holding a photograph of two white people dressed offensively and appropriatively in false Native costume holding a sign that says “Me wantum piece…..not war. The text says: “We’re a culture, not a costume. This is not who I am and this is not okay.”]this is one of a series of posters put together by students teaching about racism in society (STARS).  even they seem surprised by how much attention the campaign has been receiving. it’s a clear message, clearly delivered, and i’m glad to have come across it more times than i can count.

two other good reads that go along the same vein of thinking twice before dressing as two other quite popular halloween costumes, moreso among even “progressive” folks. first, there’s Madeira‘s article, Appropriation of gypsy culture and settled privilege. in it, they address a whole host of issues that romani folks confront year round, but they pay particular attention the fact that while people are calling attention to the blantantly racist blackface/yellowface costumes, people forget about the all-too common gypsy halloween costume.

…People have commented on the problematic nature of “asian flower” and “indian princess” halloween costumes, but no one says anything about this goddamn nonsense (link to a costume called Gypsy Princess at Yandy.com). Do you fucking see that crap?  Yeah it’s called a “gypsy princess” costume. It would be one thing to call it a “fortune teller costume” but no, they went with “gypsy princess.” Not to mention that in traditional Romani culture the lower half of the body is considered unclean… no way in hell would a skirt that short ever be permissible… fuck this.

they do have a point. it is alarming the amount of time certain feminist websites have devoted to picking apart “slutty” halloween costumes (even calling it slutoween), yet paid little to no attention to this more serious issue. i’m with madeira on this one, hopefully we can begin having meaningful conversations and change attitudes around this as an acceptable halloween costume.

the second article that is aimed a bit more at “alternative” halloween costume crowd is the recent trend of white girls deciding to go as sugar skulls. Nuestra Hermana brings us that story with Dia de Los Muertos is not your Halloween:

Dia De Los Muertos developed out of over 2,500 years of indigenous ritual celebrating death and paying respects to loved ones who have passed away. Scholars state that the Aztecs originally held a month long festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the ruler of the afterlife.

After Spanish colonization and many attempts to eradicate the rituals & festival, a new merging with the Catholic holidays All Souls Day & All Saints Day developed over time to what is now Dia De Los Muertos.

the entire article is short and simple, and i recommend reading it yourself. as a general rule, if you’re wondering whether or not your costume is racist or insensitive… it probably is. and you can probably come up with something better.

and last but not least, some laughs. the ever talented jillian tamaki really struck a chord with her “have a sexy little halloween” drawings. i couldn’t choose just one, so i’m posting it here in all its glory… it starts out seeming not all that unreasonable… and gets increasingly hilarious as you scroll down.

what i particularly love about tamaki’s take on this issue is that it doesn’t fall into the all-too-well-trodden slut shaming path, and goes the hilarious route instead. personally, i have no problem with “sexy” halloween cotumes… as long as they are done in a way that is a costume, a character, as opposed to a  “sexy” version of something that isn’t on every other day of the year. especially because they tend to sexualize hard working, underpaid, under appreciated women, namely nurses. but i’m preaching to the choir here. that ends our crash course. here, have a present:

happy halloween.



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