The Ball by Ingvar Kenne
Bachelor and Spinsters Balls take place across rural Australia, events originally designed to overcome distance; formalised social congregations providing an opportunity for locals to meet potential life partners. It has over time dissolved into chaos, anarchy, and an urge to disconnect from the established. In Ingvar Kenne's The Ball, the steadfast pattern of confusion and disorder begin to reveal something else entirely. The chaos becomes both a representation and a metaphor for living only in the now with an intensity that perhaps suggests that life is forever and neither yesterday or tomorrow matter.
This new path is not something uniquely Australian. Events playing out with near identical trajectories take place all across the Western world; Midsummer celebrations in Sweden, the Spring Break calamities in the US… franchised days of rapture, endlessly repeated. Today B&S balls are symptomatic of apathy towards times gone, and indeed what lies in the future. How do we authentically relate to the past any longer? And how does this inform our identity, our traditions and the way in which we belong. And without that connection back in time, can we form an idea of what the future should behold?
In a letter to author Tim Winton, Ingvar Kenne writes: “The B&S Balls are uniquely Australian, but to me, at the bottom of it lies this universal thing. Youth taking control of their journey in a need to break with authority in their lives, and consequently abandon that control. Completely. We have lost what older cultures gifts their youth with, as a mean to both break and bond when transiting to man and woman hood, through initiating ceremonies. In Western societies it seems to be similar solutions for youth across continents, although with a different front. In the US it’s Springbreak or Burning man, in Sweden we have crazy midsummer and crayfish parties where things regularly gets completely chaotic. All fuelled with alcohol and various substances to help. It has been the tradition for so long it has become a new norm.”
Tim Winton replies: “Are these really rites of passage or just franchised and endlessly repeated piss-ups after which everything and everyone is pretty much the same? I’m not sure, to be honest. And maybe I’m expecting too much. But you see the problem: once we dignify something by calling it a rite of passage we’re forced to expect something of it. We quite rightly look for some larger meaning in it. And with the B&S Ball I struggle a bit, but I’m a novelist, not a sociologist or an anthropologist.”
The book is available as regular or limited edition (30 copies). Published by Journal, Sweden, The Ball was first launched at POLYCOPIES during Paris Photo November 2018. Copies are available at this link. There are 1,000 copies in the first print run.
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