SchoolArts Magazine

MAY 2018

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 23 Monsters Are Real and Danger Can Happen K A I J U B I G B AT T E L CO N T E M P O R A R Y A R T I S T CO L L E C T I V E L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G C ontemporary art connects to many different disci- plines and shatters boundaries between museums, galleries, performance art, and yes, even wrestling. The Kaiju Big Battel collective combines monsters, pop culture references, sculpture, costume design, story- telling, punk rock music, and wrestling into genre-obliter- ating live events for audiences across the United States. Operating under the tagline "Monsters are real and dan- ger can happen," Kaiju Big Battel events are based on the idea that they allow their roster of more than fifty "City Crushing Monsters" to release their aggressions, preventing the towns and communities where they are held from being destroyed. These monsters include homages and parodies of creatures from cult-classic science fiction and monster movies from the 1950s to the 1980s, including American Beetle, Dusto Bunny, Kung-Fu Chicken Noodle, and the vil- lainous Dr. Cube. The collective has presented roughly 150 live performances, including a recent live television broad- cast in the last twenty years. Kaiju performances require an impressive amount of preparation and background work that is truly multi- disciplinary: designing and creating costumes, constructing unique sets for each performance, writing storylines, work- ing with performers, securing a space, and renting equip- ment. Even more remarkable is that founder and creative director Randy Borden and lead artist Andy Bell both have day jobs as art teachers. History Kaiju Big Battel (KBB) began in 1997, when Randy, a student at School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and a group of friends began planning to make a monster movie. They staged some improvised performances around campus and were surprised by the excited reactions from the crowds that gathered to see them. This quickly evolved into packed standing-room only performances at venues in Boston and New York City. Andy discovered KBB a few years later when he became a student at Boston University and was intrigued by the mysterious Dr. Cube logo he saw on posters throughout Boston. The name Kaiju Big Battel is inspired by the Japanese word kaiju , which translates approximately to "mysterious beast." A typographical error on an early poster is responsible for their unique spelling of the word "battle." Historical Connections Elements of Kaiju Big Battel's work and performances con- nect to artworks throughout history. In ancient Rome, mosa- ics were created to celebrate "famous" gladiators. Medieval manuscripts are rife with depictions of the demons and monsters of Hell. In Japan, the ukiyo-e print genre celebrated famous warriors, both factual and legendary, as well as the many demons they fought. Like the pop artists of the 1960s, Kaiju Big Battel employs parody and tongue-in-cheek humor. Top: French Toast (the Awful Waffle) delicately avoids building rubble. Bottom: Dusto-Bunny prepares to bounce into action. Photos by Teruyoshi Yamaki. Images courtesy of Kaiju Big Battel.

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