Rowe’s Wildmen costumes, also known as Ghillie suits, are a unique representation of the carnivalesque in contemporary visual culture.
They subvert traditional norms and hierarchies by using accumulated domestic materials that are fading from significance to create decorative wearable landmasses. This emphasis on physicality and the body reflects the carnivalesque’s celebration of diversity and complexity.
Rowe’s costumes also challenge dominant narratives and ideologies through their ritualistic resurrection of a cultural identity, entrenched with broader themes of pagan rituals and abstraction. They create a form of social camouflage that comments on the self-shaming ecosystem of the carnivalesque, reflecting the artist’s observation of the deconstruction and clearing of the no man’s land of the harbour and seafront resort.
Rowe’s work is an example of the carnivalesque’s enduring presence in contemporary visual culture, as it encourages creativity, experimentation, and subversion. It highlights the importance of preserving and celebrating aesthetics that are on the verge of extinction and provides a platform for reflection on the social, cultural, and taste shifts in the region.