John Dunivant Explains The Illusionists’ Ball

1xRUN Thru Interview
The Illusionists’ Ball by John Dunivant

John Dunivant - Age 3

John Dunivant – Age 3

1xRun: Tell us a little bit about this piece, is the original still for sale?
John Dunivant:  It was created to set the tone for this past year’s Theatre Bizarre.  This then guides the direction of the year and becomes a catalyst for the performances and the stories being told.  I was inspired by a series of Victorian era post cards that would use an illusion to manifest a portrait of a skull.  This particular skull is a portrait of Zombo the Clown, a wanton god within the mythos of this construct.  There is no original, so to speak, the piece is comprised of several photos as well as digital painting.  This release will be printed on metal.


1xRun: Was this piece part of a recent theme, series or show that you had? If so how did it fit into that given grouping?
John Dunivant:  It is part of an ongoing story and, more specifically, it was used to establish the theme for Theatre Bizarre 2014 which became The Illusionists’ Ball.  Theatre Bizarre is a massive, interactive installation art piece that utilizes 8 floors of the world’s largest Masonic Temple, transforming the space into a universe unto itself.  This is one story within that world.


1xRUN: What materials were used to create this piece with?
John Dunivant: Photography and digital, printed on metal.

1xRun: When was the piece created and how long did it take to complete?
John Dunivant: I did this back in August of 2014. I can’t remember how long it took as that time of the year is always a blur, but not too long as I was up against crazy deadlines.


 1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about?
John Dunivant: The Victorian post cards that I was inspired by seem to speak to duality and hidden dangers, I like that. I further wanted to bring in more sexual elements and tell a story that also encompasses what it’s like to go to Theatre Bizarre. This actually started as a reference point for a painting, but due to the time constraints of Theatre Bizarre and all of my other responsibilities to it, there was no way that I could finish it on time. So I embraced it and based it more literally on the photographic process and the tintypes of that time period. I think I ended up happier with it as a result.

1xRun: Anything immediate you would like us to highlight?
John Dunivant: One aspect of the image is meant to hint, literally behind the curtain, at the scale of Theatre Bizarre.  The area that makes up the stripes of Zombo’s hat is essentially our 4th floor mezzanine, which shows a portion of The Sinema signage.  The Sinema is a small theater room, showing film splinters and remnants of the building’s memories, made up mostly from film clips of horror, erotica, etc. from the dawn of cinema, all the while there are performances by the ushers and popcorn servers (serving free popcorn) as well as a full bar.  This is just a fragment of this immense space and the environments located within.


1xRun: What do you feel is unique about this piece?
John Dunivant: I’ve never really worked in this medium, at least like this, and it’s printed on metal. The metal was suggested by the printers at 1xRun as an interesting option and it reminded me of the daguerreotypes I was initially inspired by. It seemed the perfect fit.


1xRun: Why should people buy this print?
John Dunivant: Hail Zombo.

1xRun: Describe this piece in one gut reaction word.
John Dunivant: Duplicitous.


1xRun: Where can we find you?
John Dunivant: WebsiteTheatre Bizzarre Website