Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dementia Concretia: Beautiful Freaks

I ran across the term Dementia Concretia today. As diseases go, it sounds like a good one. It’s a disorder that causes people to create compulsively. Not in the typical fashion like writing books or painting pictures. Something on a grander scale. Like building a cathedral out of broken bottles and hubcaps and spare bike parts. And then adding a bonus room. There are plenty of great examples. Watt's Towers in Los Angeles, a series of concrete, glass and tile structures up to 100 feet tall built over a thirty-year span by Simon Rodia.

Bishop Castle, a family cabin gone wildly out of control. The structure has been under construction in Pueblo, Colorado since 1969 and has employed more than a 1000 tons of rock. It represents an escape from reality, a celebration of freedom, and a protest against government restrictions for builder Jim Bishop.

The Orange Show in Houston, Texas, a 3,000 square foot architectural circus of steel, brick, concrete, tile and random found objects—wagon wheels, tractor parts, finials, mannequins—all cobbled together with hope, sweat and obsession by postman Jeff McKissack in tribute to his favorite fruit, the orange. Sprinkled throughout are odes to the king of citrus and advice to visitors for better living through oranges. (Here's a link to a nice first-hand account.)

Because all the references to Dementia Concretia that I can find come from blogs, I suspect that it’s just a made up term that has taken hold. Still, I like the concept. I would submit however, that this is not a disorder at all, but rather a primitive response to the inherent need in all of us to create, a need that is sublimated to the imperative of making a living. After a lifetime spent working in within corporate confines or at menial tasks, the sheer force of all that pent up creative energy explodes in a dramatic fashion resulting in these fantastic monuments to the ingenuity and undaunted creative spirit of humankind. These are the ultimate edifices from which to proudly let fly a massive freak flag.

Bravo, freaks. And I mean that in the most endearing sense possible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

See video on Jeff McKissack, creator of thr Orange Show in Houston:

Jeff's Tour of the Orange Show 5 Videos