EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean

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The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in New Orleans will host EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean, curated by Claire Tancons and Krista Thompson. This performance series and traveling exhibition will take place March 7 to June 7, 2015. The Contemporary Arts Center is located at 900 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Description: EN MAS’ introduces performance art with a focus on the influence that Carnival and related masquerading traditions have had on contemporary performance discourse and practice in both the artistic and curatorial realms. Indeed, EN MAS’ takes into account performance practices that do not trace their genealogy to the European avant-gardes of the early 20th century but rather to the experiences of slavery and colonialism through to the mid-19th century, the independence struggles and civil right movements of the mid-20th century and population migrations to and from the former colonial centers for most of the last century.

Throughout the 2014 Caribbean Carnival season, EN MAS’ tracked nine artists—John Beadle, Christophe ChassolCharles CampbellNicolás Dumit EstévezMarlon GriffithHew Locke, Lorraine O’GradyEbony G. Patterson, and Cauleen Smith—as they engaged, transformed, or critiqued historical and contemporary Caribbean performance practices from Carnival in Santiago de los Caballeros, Port of Spain, Fort-de-France, Kingston, London and Brooklyn, to Junkanoo in Nassau and the New Orleans second line—sometimes using their own imaginary cartographies and invented performance traditions. The resulting newly commissioned works took place according to different modes of public address and audience engagement including semi-private rituals at the margin of the festival celebrations and street processions in the midst of the carnival revelry.

Prior to a national and international tour organized by ICI, EN MAS’ will bring together material remnants or reconstitutions from the performances as well as photographic and filmic interpretations, thus presenting some of the best photographers, filmmakers, and videographers working in the Caribbean today, such as Marvin BartleyArnaldo JamesMarlon JamesRaymond MarreroNile Saulter, and Storm Saulter. The exhibition at CAC is designed by Gia Wolff.

An accompanying publication, co-published by ICI and the CAC will include critical essays by the exhibition’s curators, monographic texts by an array of cultural and art critics, and an extensive array of illustrations. In addition to the publication, a newly launched website hosted by ICI offers insights into each artist’s performance while tracking the exhibition tour.

For more information on the curators, artists, and institutions, see http://www.e-flux.com/announcements/en-mas-carnival-and-performance-art-of-the-caribbean/

[Photo above: Ebony G. Patterson, Invisible Presence: Bling Memories, 2014. Performance, Kingston, Jamaica, April 27, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. Photo: Monique Gilpin and Philip Rhoden.]

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