EN MAS': Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean

April 21 – August 12, 2018

Amsden - Beren - Polk/Wilson Galleries

EN MAS’ introduces performance art with a focus on the influence that Carnival and related masquerading traditions in and of the Caribbean and its diasporas 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 twentieth–century but rather to the experiences of slavery and colonialism through the mid–nineteenth century, the independence struggles and civil rights movements of the mid–twentieth century and population migrations to and from the former colonial centers for most of the last century. EN MAS’ takes its title from a pun on “Mas’” (short for masquerade and synonymous with Carnival in the English-speaking Caribbean) and “mass” (as in the French colloquial “en masse,” meaning all together).

Throughout the 2014-2015 Caribbean Carnival season, EN MAS’ tracked nine artists—John Beadle, Christophe Chassol, Charles Campbell, Nicolás Dumit Estévez, Marlon Griffith, Hew Locke, Lorraine O’Grady, Ebony 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—or in 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.

Images (clockwise from the top-left): 1) Ebony G. Patterson, Invisible Presence: Bling Memories, April 27, 2014. Performance. Location: Kingston, Jamaica. Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. Photograph: Monique Gilpin and Philip Rhoden. 2) Christophe Chassol, BIG SUN, 2014. Video still. Image courtesy of the artist. 3) Cauleen Smith, H-E-L-L-O, 2014. Video still. Location: Holy Cross Levee. Trombone: Michael Watson. Cinematography: William Sabourin. 4) Hew Locke, Give and Take, August 23, 2014, Performance. Tate Modern, London. Photograph: Akiko Ota.

EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean is an exhibition curated by Claire Tancons and Krista Thompson; organized by the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), New Orleans and Independent Curators International (ICI), New York.

The exhibition is made possible by an Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award. Additional support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and by the Institut Français in support of African and Caribbean projects. The exhibition debuted at CAC New Orleans in spring 2015, and will tour through 2018.

The Ulrich presentation is made possible by contributions from The Gridley Family Foundation, John and Nancy Brammer, Celebrity Cruises, The Khicha Family Foundation, Dr. Sam and Jacque Kouri, Martin Pringle Law Firm, Ron and Lee Starkel, Clark and Sharon Bastian, Jane McHugh, Louise L. Beren, Eric Engstrom and Robert Bell, Sondra M. Langel, Liz and Bob Workman and an anonymous donor.

Additional generous support provided by Denise and Rex Irwin, Marcia and Ted D. Ayres, Charles E. Baker, Laurie and Mark A. Finucane, Justus H. Fugate, George and Eleanor Lucas, Dr. Pat Purvis, Dr. Dennis and Ann Ross, Don and Ellie Skokan, Dorothy Shannon, Stev Overstreet, John and Kay Morse, Bill, Julia and Luke McBride in honor of Bob Workman, and Dasa and Nalini Gangadhar.

(As of January 2, 2018)