Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mas at the BRIC'S Rotuda Gallery

Trinidad and Tobago, what we take for granted and the others who don't

Like all things made, there is a process behind it and with this concept, an exhibition on the very subject is on at the BRIC'S Rotuda Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. It is on the common subject of Carnival from Trinidad and Tobago by artists, performers and photographers.

The curator, Claire Tancons has orchestrated the works of
Alex Kahn and Sophie Michahelles by suspending the backlit boxes from the ceiling of the gallery. These cascade around the room. On a wall, images are projected from the German photographer Stefan Falke. Mr. Falke has documented the Moko Jumbies (stilt-dance performers) for many years and has produced a book from his studies. The process of staging a performance, from the ground up, to the streets of Port of Spain or in New York may have been addressed.

Caribbean Carnival as Art Practice
, Ms. Toncons includes a costume by Laura Anderson Barbata. The muti-media artist since her Trinidad residency in 2001 has integrated her Mexican heritage unto the culture of Trinidad and Tobago. Her costumes specifically are designed for the Moko Jumbies and credit should be given to those young Trinidadians and Tobagonians who have to perform in them. Not only does the balancing act require skill, but to stabilize themselves attached to these tall stilts may be further compounded by a large costume on their backs. To see the Moko Jumbies perform without these artificial tapestry may shed another light as visual art.

The puppet designers, Alex Kahn and Sophie Michahelles, also experienced Trinidad and Tobago's carnival and they are included in the show. At their residency at Caribbean Contemporary Arts in 2005, they constructed two large traditional carnival costumes as puppets. Although during the carnival festival in Trinidad, Mr. Kahn struggled to carry his costume. This suggests that carnival is ingrained in a people, and costumes are just an extension. Backlit boxes of a photograph of the front and side views of buildings (New Orleans) are exhibited. Please refer to the comments by Claire Tancons regarding this work.

Yet, the thread to all these artists is Trinidad and Tobago and the former Caribbean Contemporary Arts. Claire Tancons briefly was the curator and the show, Lighting the Shadow was under her belt.

Other noted artists are Trinidadians
Marlon Griffith with his draped reflective (carnival material) cellophane cut-outs sheets, and Karyn Olivier, Caecilia Tripp from Germany and Nicolás Dumit Estévez from the Domincan Republic.

Caribbean Carnival as Art Practice
BRIC'S Rotuda Gallery, New York
September 12 - October 20, 2007

1 comment:

Claire said...

Dear Richard,
Thank you for your review of the exhibition MAS': From Process to Procession which I curated for Rotunda Gallery. For your information,
I did not 'assembled works by suspending backlit boxes from the ceiling of the gallery'. The work you are referring to, New Orleans Mourned... and Reborn was made by Alex Kahn and Sophia Michalelles from Superior Concept Monsters for the 2005 New York's Village Halloween Parade, of which they are the official designers, to pay hommage to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Having to reconfigure this piece of processional art to the gallery, the artists decided to hang the 4 lanterns and the coffin of which it is composed, from the ceiling, not so much so that they would 'cascade down' the space, though that does incidentally create an interesting visual effect, but so as to position them at the height at which they were carried in the streets, on the shoulders of the revellers. The ultimate display of New Orleans Mourned...and Reborn is, as the title suggests, an evocation of a Jazz Funeral.
Thank you for your attention,
Claire Tancons


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