From the twisting alleys and misted towers of Prague, Baba Studio brings an alternative view of the fantasy landscape where the dark history of old Prague meets the poetic decadence of the Bohemian lifestyle, swathed in the mysteries of the Gothic idyll…
But just what is The Gothic?
The word does not fail to induce an immediate response in everyone who hears it. Whether it’s medieval architecture, Victorian literature, post-punk music or exotic fashion, there are similar strands in all the varied things that the term has stood for. A certain darkness, yes. Something worthy of fear, but also of celebration – celebration through art.
This morbid yet enlightening fascination with the unknown has been influential in art throughout European history, painting city streets and soundscapes, sonnets and self-expression with its luxuriant blackness…
Strangely (though perhaps fittingly, giving the modern stigmas surrounding the Goth scene) the word first made its way into the world of art as an insult. The word Gothic was cognate with “barbaric”, referring to the ancient tribe which sacked Rome, and was thus used by Renaissance art critics to describe the older Medieval Germanic style of art and architecture, seen as inferior to the Romanesque style that it succeeded.
While the offensive name stuck, it was not the style’s barbarism that enthralled writers and artists into reusing the word “Gothic” centuries later, but its sublime beauty. Indeed, anyone who has visited Prague’s own St. Vitus Cathedral, regardless of religious views, must have felt some stirring of the unworldly between the spires and buttresses, the pointed arches and grotesque carvings. From a distance, the building is dominating, reaching out to arrest the attention from miles across the city. Up close, it is transporting. The city beyond it fades away, leaving one feeling dwarfed and insignificant beside the vastness of its austere splendour.
It is perhaps this sense of commingled beauty and terror that lent itself to the Gothic novel. The word was initially used for this style of horror-filled Romanticism due to the settings of the stories – Gothic novels are rife with bleak Northern castles and ruined cathedrals, all boasting the unnerving glory of the Gothic style. However, it wasn’t long before the word became applicable to more common tropes in these tales – clashes between god-fearing men and monstrous forces, fears beyond the grave, the Romantic sublimity of nature, doomed love and dark seduction all influence our modern appreciation of the Gothic, due to the dramas devised within Gothic architectural settings.
While Victorian writers can be held responsible for linking the word “Gothic” with a certain pleasure in the macabre, it was not until the 1970’s that this became a subcultural statement.“Gothic Rock” was a term applied to post-punk bands such as Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Bauhaus, using the literary term to describe the brooding gloom of the instrumentation as well as often morbid subject-matter of the lyrics. The genre combined the rebellious attitude of the punk era with the sombre culture of Romantic art and poetry, and it wasn’t long before the fashion followed suit.
The rest, as they say, is mystery…
In the last thirty years, Gothic culture and fashion have become overarching terms in themselves for myriad subcultures – from the Gothic Metal scene, combining classical music with hard rock, to the Cyber Goth scene, offering a dark alternative to science fiction, to the ever-present obsession with the glamorous undead. However, it is the age-old combination of darkness and decadence that binds these different scenes together, and which continues to surprise and seduce individuals of all ages and interests.
This community is for anybody with an interest in the Gothic – whether you have a life-long love of macabre art, a not-so-guilty pleasure in Goth Rock, or just find yourself wearing black an awful lot! Here you can indulge your darkness in unusual facts about art, literature, fashion and lifestyle, as well as browsing the decorous art and fashion of Baba Studio…
If you’re in the mood for something darkly suggestive, why not watch this sumptuous tale of Gothic tarot from Baba Studio, showing the shadowy subtleties of Prague’s Old Quarter?
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