How does a photograph of a Goth girl and my granddaughter, posing with product, constitute anthropology?
Social cultural anthropology is defined as the study of the development of human cultures based on ethnographic, linguistic, social, and psychological data and methods of analysis.
Traditional anthropology is done in the field for extended periods of time and maintaining throughout an understanding of the biases you bring to the data and the analysis. Analysis is nothing if it sits on the porch unshared. Most time analysis is expressed through academic and professional journals, or ethnography in either written or image form such as books or film.
In today’s vernacular, social media is a language of writing and images which are heard and said in digital form over the internet. Kerri Robertson is part of the sub-Culture Goth and someone I have watched and done creative work with since 2008.
I claimed her as an uneasy friend when we both worked at a party store, another of my amateur anthropological field locations. Kerri’s natural blonde hair changes colour every six months, but the thick eyeliner around her big blue eyes, her black only clothes and her penchant for skulls remains steady.
To everyone’s surprise when I opened FeeFiFoFun Costume Concierge in 2010 I hired Kerri. Hiring her was like bringing on the child of Marilyn Monroe and Christian Bale. Notorious for diva like behaviour. Kerri is as prickly as a porcupine with a loud unfiltered mouth fond of complaining and also an incredibly beautiful person with a creative flow of which I always want to be part of. I have long wanted to photograph her.
At the store Kerri became an extension of my anthropological work. She helped me breathe life into creative works about costume Culture. I was the visionary and she is the tool, literally. I would design a store window in my head about Remembrance Day. Picking the costume products and props, I would tell her what I wanted and she would draw or arrange the window until the vision was realized.
Everything Kerri did with FeeFiFoFun was the antithesis to society’s assumptions about Goth. Her presence in the store with WASP mother’s and their children created a bridge to curiosity and understanding. She isn’t into devil worship, kinky things, gore or horror. She does have parents, siblings and nieces to whom she is very loyal. She is obsessed with 80’s collectibles. She is a vegetarian. She is worried about her future. She does a happy dance when delighted. She makes her car payments on time because it’s her lifeline. She does not sleep in a coffin. She doesn’t drink or hang out in clubs, except to dance. She is a talented artist with a flare for the unusual.
The best thing is that Kerri is still willing to hang out with a nerdy old lady like me and she’s known my granddaughter since birth. I can’t imagine a better way to share the Goth culture than through a pictorial of two authentic humans who travel in such different worlds and yet are so much alike.
About the Costumes: Kerri’s ensemble is NOT a costume for Halloween or any other time. It’s what she wears everyday. The Kreepsville666 Skull Purse is available in Natural Glo white or black. Her hat and dress were thrifted and her coif if Electric Lizard Green by Manic Panic. My granddaughter is wearing a Crown of Bones DIYed with red spray paint and her own black t-shirt. The Bat Wings and Doll are part of California Costumes, Very Bat Girl which I stock in children’s sizes 8-10, 10-12 and 12-14.