EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean

EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean

Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans

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.

January 12, 2015

EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean
March 7–June 7, 2015

Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans 
900 Camp Street 
New Orleans, LA 70130


Curated by Claire Tancons and Krista Thompson
2012 Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award Recipient 

The Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (CAC) and Independent Curators International, New York (ICI) announce EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean, a transnational performance series and traveling exhibition opening March 7 at the CAC. The exhibition is curated by Claire Tancons and Krista Thompson, organized and presented by the CAC, and co-organized as a traveling exhibition by ICI. 

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 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—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 Bartley, Arnaldo James, Marlon James, Raymond Marrero, Nile 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.

About The curators
Claire Tancons is a curator, writer, and researcher with a focus on Carnival, public ceremonial culture, civic rituals, and popular movements. The Associate Curator for Prospect.1 New Orleans (2007-9), a curator for the 7th Gwangju Biennale (2008), Guest Curator for CAPE09 (2009), Associate Curator for research for Biennale Bénin (2012), and a curator for the Göteborg Biennial (2013), she was most recently guest curator for Up Hill Down Hall: An Indoor Carnival as part of the 2014 BMW Tate Live series at Tate Modern.

Krista Thompson is Associate Professor of Art History at Northwestern University and the author of An Eye for the Tropics (2006). Her book Shine: The Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice—written about the intersection of popular photography, performance, and contemporary art in the circum-Caribbean—will be published by Duke University Press in 2015.

About ICI
Independent Curators International (ICI) produces exhibitions, events, training opportunities, research initiatives, and publications for curators and audiences around the world. For further information about the exhibition tour, dates, and availability, please contact Alaina Claire Feldman at alaina [​at​] curatorsintl.org.

About CAC
The Contemporary Arts Center is a multidisciplinary arts center that is dedicated to the presentation, production, and promotion of art of our time.

Press contacts 
Lindsay Ross Owens                            
lowens [​at​] cacno.org / T +1 504 528 3805 / M +1 504 258 2475     

Molly Rowe
molly [​at​] nadinejohnson.com / T +1 212 288 5555 / M +1 919 627 5230

Click here for more information about EN MAS’ at the CAC.
For individual artist pages and to track the exhibition, click here.


EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean at Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans
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Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans
January 12, 2015

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