DETROIT — When UK artist Lucy Owen arrived in Detroit in 2014, it was to pursue an interest, developed from afar, with Juggalo culture — the dynamic cult scene centered around the Detroit Metro musical duo, Insane Clown Posse (ICP). Founded in 1989 by hip-hop artists 2 Dope (now Shaggy 2 Dope) and Violent J, ICP has formed a horrorcore subculture of epic proportions, which has unfolded in a series of albums detailing the mythology of a “Dark Carnival,” which includes an extended “family” of devotees who dress in emulation of their heroes. Owen’s first body of work on the subject, Where the Juggalos Roam, based on images collected during her first Gathering of the Juggalos — an annual festival that’s part concert, part camping trip, and part ICP Renaissance fair that’s the must-attend event for serious ICP followers — found a surprisingly receptive audience when she showed at Start Gallery in Detroit in December of 2014.
“I noticed a pattern of enquiry from journalists and fellow artists regarding what my experiences were, as a woman, at the Gathering and other events I had been to in the course of my research,” said Owen via email. “It seemed there was a level of expectation for me to denounce the subculture as misogynist and assert that Juggalettes are unwitting victims of exploitation.”