Tag Archives: Caribbean

NOCTAMBULES: the hidden transcripts

Noctambules(version française en bas)

We are very happy to invite you to join us for the opening of our exhibition “NOCTAMBULES: the hidden transcripts” on occasion of the 7th “Forum Transculturel d’Art Contemporain” in Port-au-Prince in Haiti on April 6th, 2015.

“NOCTAMBULES: the hidden transcripts”

photographs by Josué Azor
curated by David Frohnapfel

 

Vernissage

19h30, 6th April, 2015
Villa Kalewes, 99 Rue Gregoire, Petionvile, Port-au-Prince

 

Conference & Artist Talk “La deconstruction du genre”

Barbara Prezeau-Stephenson, Josué Azor, Maksaens Denis and David Frohnapfel in conversation
16h30-18h30, 7th April, 2015
FOKAL, 143 Avenue Christophe, Port-au-Prince

 

Concept Note

Haiti’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities have long kept a low profile because of a strong social stigma that sparks fear of physical violence or social isolation. The Caribbean in general was often labeled as one of the most homo- und transphobic regions in the world. In April 2015 theforum transculturel d’art contemporain will discuss the theme Creation & Counterpower. As part of this conceptual framework the exhibition project “NOCTAMBULES: the hidde transcripts” will ask which social processes mark the LGBT community in Port-au-Prince as deviant and how homosexuality can manifest itself as a powerful counter-culture in this hostile and heteronormative environment. Which are the hidden transcripts (James Scott) and communal bonds the LGBT community in Port-au-Prince creates to resist marginalization and heal the wounds of permanent sexual oppression? Can art be a mechanism to escape the heteronormative matrix of power by developing particular queer aesthetic sensibilities? Can we find certain aesthetic codes that resist against a hetero-centrist colonialization of the visual arts? Josué Azor’s photographs document how an engagement celebration of two men was violently interrupted by homophobic attacks and juxtaposes these disturbing images of violence with the joyful celebrations of gay youth in Port-au-Prince at night. These juxtapositions of violence and release create awareness of queer infrapolitics and reflect on the socio-political disobedience of men and women in Haiti who search for possibilities to escape social discrimination and oppression by a dominant hetero-patriarchy.

 Sincerely,
David Frohnapfel & Josué Azor

Je suis très heureux de vous inviter de nous joinder pour le vernissage de nôtre exposition « NOCTAMBULES: the hidden transcripts » dans le cadre du « 7e Forum Transculturel d’Art Contemporain » à Port-au-Prince en Haïti le 6e d’avril 2015.

 

“NOCTAMBULES: the hidden transcripts”

Photographies de Josué Azor
Commissaire d’exposition David Frohnapfel

 

Vernissage:

19h30, 6e d’avril 2015
Villa Kalewes, 99 Rue Gregoire, Petionvile, Port-au-Prince

 

Conférence & Artist Talk “La deconstruction du genre”

Barbara Prezeau-Stephenson, Josué Azor, Maksaens Denis et David Frohnapfel en conversation
16h30-18h30, 7e d’avril 2015
FOKAL, 143 Avenue Christophe, Port-au-Prince

 

Concept note

Les communautés gay, lesbien et transgender de Haïti ont pour longtemps adopté un profil bas à cause d’un fort stigma social provocant peur de violence physique ou isolation sociale. En générale les Caraïbes étaient souvent considérés l’une des régions les plus homo- et transphobes du monde. En avril 2015 le forum transculturel d’art contemporain discutera le sujet de Création et Contre-pouvoir. Dans ce cadre conceptuel le projet d’exposition “NOCTAMBULES: the hidde transcripts” s’interroge sur le type de procès sociaux qui identifient la communauté LGBT à Port-au-Prince comme déviante et comment l’homosexualité peut se manifester par un contre-culture puissante au sein de cet environnement hostile et hétéronormatif. Quels sont les hidden transcripts (James Scott) et liens communautaires que la communauté LGBT à Port-au-Prince met en place pour résister la marginalisation et guérir les blessures d’une oppression sexuelle permanente? Est-il possible que l’art puisse devenir un mécanisme pour s’échapper du matrix hétéronormatif du pouvoir en développant de spécifiques sensibilités esthétiques queer? Est-il possible de trouver certains codes esthétiques qui résistent une colonisation hétérocentriste des arts visuels? Les photographes de Josué Azor documentent comment une célébration de fiançailles de deux hommes fut interrompue violemment par des attaques homophobes et juxtaposent ces images troublantes avec les célébrations joyeuses de jeunes gays dans la nuit à Port-au-Prince. Ces juxtapositions de violence et décharge rendent compte d’une infrapolitique queer et réfléchissent sur la désobéissance socio-politique d’hommes et femmes en Haïti qui cherchent des possibilités de s’échapper à la discrimination et oppression sociale d’un hétéro-patriarcat dominant.

Cordialement,
David Frohnapfel & Josué Azor
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Sustainable Art Communities: Creativity and Policy in the Transnational Caribbean

Marlon Griffith, 2012, Kawa no ji, japanese washi, dimensions variable, installed at Mino, Gifu, Japan.

Marlon Griffith, 2012, Kawa no ji, japanese washi, dimensions variable, installed at Mino, Gifu, Japan.

‘Sustainable Art Communities: Creativity and Policy in the Transnational Caribbean’ explores how the understanding and formation of sustainable community for the Caribbean and its global diaspora may be supported by art practice, curating and museums. It fosters networks of exchange and collaboration among academics, artists, curators and policymakers from the UK and the Netherlands, as well as various countries in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean and their diasporas.

The second conference in this series will be held this week (3-4th December 2013) at InIVA, London – to see the full conference programme click here

Confirmed speakers include:
Alessio Antoniolli (UK), Marielle Barrow (Trinidad),
Charles Campbell (Jamaica/UK), Annalee Davis (Barbados),
Joy Gregory (UK), Therese Hadchity (Barbados),
Glenda Heyliger (Aruba), Rosemarijn Hoefte (Netherlands),
Yudhishthir Raj Isar (France/India), Tessa Jackson (UK),
Nancy Jouwe (Netherlands), Charl Landvreugd (Netherlands),
Wayne Modest (Netherlands),
Petrona Morrison (Jamaica), Jynell Osborne (Guyana),
Marcel Pinas (Suriname),
Dhiradj Ramsamoedj (Suriname), Leon Wainwright (UK), and Kitty Zijlmans (Netherlands)

Sustainable Art Communities is a two-year international research project led by Dr Leon Wainwright (The Open University, UK), with Co-Investigator Professor Dr Kitty Zijlmans (Leiden University), funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC, UK), in partnership with the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam and Iniva, the Institute of International Visual Arts, London.

The First Conference in this series was held earlier this year (5-6th  February 2013) at the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam.

Speakers included:

Petrina Dacres (Jamaica), Marlon Griffith (Japan/Trinidad), Rosemarijn Höfte (Netherlands), Tessa Jackson (UK), Erica James (US/Bahamas), Roshini Kempadoo (UK), Tirzo Martha (Curaçao), Wayne Modest (Netherlands), Nicholas Morris (Germany/Jamaica), Alex van Stipriaan (Netherlands), Leon Wainwright (UK) and Kitty Zijlmans (Netherlands).

Marlon Griffith, Location and Actions, Panel 4 Paper 2, 5 February 2013, Tropenmuseum

Marlon Griffith, Location and Actions, Panel 4 Paper 2, 5 February 2013, Tropenmuseum

Video footage of the conference is now available online at the Open Arts Archive.

To find out more about the project, the theme underpinning it and the resources generated from it click here.

1804 & Its Afterlives: International Conference

We are pleased to present below the programme for the upcoming conference 1804 & Its Afterlives to be held at Nottingham Contemporary on the 7-8 December 2012. This event takes place in conjunction with Nottingham Contemporary’s current exhibition Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou and will include as speakers, specialists across many disciplines in the field of Haitian and Caribbean Studies.

The event is free, to book a place via the Nottingham Contemporary site click here.

Image

Hector Hyppolite, Henry Christophe, Collection Musée Nader, Port-au-Prince

1804 & Its Afterlives

The Space, Nottingham Contemporary

Friday 7th December

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10.30   Arrivals & Registration (Refreshments served in The Space Foyer )

Session One 11h-13h

11.00   Introduction

11.30   Keynote Lecture, Colin Dayan: ‘The gods in the trunk (or writing in a belittered world)’:

I offer a context for refiguring our understanding of the supernatural, a recognition of attentiveness that asks:  What could we feel if we could feel what we experience sufficiently? What I once called Marie Vieux Chauvet’s ‘literary fieldwork’ becomes a way to think anew about the making of fiction and the meaning of ritual. With vodou practice-and the threats now against its very existence-as my prompt, I go beyond the borders of academic decorum to substantially political encounters. In asking what remains alive, vivid, and unsettling outside our conventions and characterizations, I question the meaning of ‘justice’ and the reach of ‘cruelty,’ as well as the uses of ‘reason.’  By reshuffling our conceptual schemes, my objective is to give the claims of spirit the color and shape of matter.  Finally, I want to breach the gap between body and mind, dead and living, human and non-human. How else can we work and think through this time of extinctions? 

12.30   Conversation & Q&A with Colin Dayan
Chaired by Leah Gordon & Alex Farquharson (Curators, Kafou, Haiti Art & Vodou)

 

Session Two 14h-16.30h

14.00   Charles Forsdick, Introduction 

14.30   Nick Nesbitt:  Legacies of 1804: Anti-slavery, Decolonization and the Critique of Violence

15.00   Dick Geary: The Contradictory Legacy of Haiti for Slave Revolt in Brazil

15.30   Conversation with Dick Geary & Nick Nesbitt, Chaired by Charles Forsdick

16.00   Q&A

16.30   Exhibition visit Kafou, Haiti Art & Vodou  – with Alex Farquharson & Leah Gordon

17.30   Drinks for speakers and delegates served in The Space – launch of Kafou catalogue.

 

Saturday 8th December

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10.30   Arrivals & Registration (Refreshments served in The Space Foyer )

Session Three 10.45h-13.30h

10.45   Introduction by Philip Kaisary

11.00   Michael Largey:
1804 and Musical Memory: Occide Jeanty and Recombinant Mythology in Haiti

11.30   Martin Munro:
The Revolution’s Ghosts: Dessalines, the Chimères, and Apocalyptic Creolization

12.00   Barbara Browning:
Catching the Rhythm: Infectious Politicization in the Figuring of Haitian Dance Since the Revolution

12.30   Conversation with Barbara Browning, Martin Munro & Michael Largey & Q&A
Chaired by Philip Kaisary

 

Session Four 14.30-17h

14.30   Introduction

14.45   Millery Polyne:
The Commercial and Ideological Uses of Haiti-from Post U.S. Occupation to Post-Earthquake

15.15   Matthew J Smith:
Haitian Revolutions: Politics, Conflicts, and the Shadow of 1804

15.45   Conversation with Millery Polyne and Matthew J Smith, Chaired by Nick Nesbitt

16.15   Q&A

17.00   Close

 

Speakers Biographies

Colin Dayan is Robert Penn Warren Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University, and expert in literary, legal and religious studies of the Americas, and author of A Rainbow for the Christian West: Rene Depestre‘s Poetry; Fables of Mind: An Inquiry into Poe’s Fiction(1987); Haiti, History, and the Gods and, most recently, The Law is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons. In Haiti, History, and the Gods Dayan investigated how Haiti is created and recreated in fiction and fact, text and ritual, discourse and practice. Uncovering a silenced, submerged past, she argued provocatively for the consideration of both Vodou rituals and narrative fiction as repositories of history.

Leah Gordon (Chair) is an artist and curator. She has produced a body of work on the representational boundaries between art, religion, anthropology, post-colonialism and folk history and her film and photographic work has been exhibited internationally. She has previously served as adjunct curator for the Haitian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, was on the curatorial team for the recent ‘In Extremis’ exhibition at the Fowler Museum, UCLA, and is curator of ‘Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou’at Nottingham Contemporary.

Nick Nesbitt is Professor of French & Italian, Princeton University;his publications include Voicing Memory: History and Subjectivity in French Caribbean Literature and Universal Emancipation: The Haitian Revolution and the Radical Enlightenment – which explores the Haitian Revolution as a fundamental event of the Age of Revolution and Enlightenment, in relation to key thinkers in contemporary political philosophy. He is editor of Toussaint Louverture: The Haitian Revolution and co-editor with Brian Hulse of Sounding the Virtual: Gilles Deleuze and the Philosophy of Music.

Dick Geary is the former Director of Institute for the Study of Slavery at University of Nottingham; he published extensively on European labour history before researching slave labour and unpaid work in Brazil and Western Europe, emphasising the role of ideology, religion, and ritual. Geary´s main field of research is the European labour movement and the intellectual history of Marxism. More recently he has been developing a research on the history of slavery. His methods include both social history and comparative studies.

Charles Forsdick (Chair) is James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool. His research focuses principally on exoticism, travel literature, postcolonial literature in French, the francophone dimensions of postcolonial theory, the contemporary French novel and representations of the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture.

Michael Largey is Professor of Ethnomusicology and Area Chair of Musicology at Michigan State University College of Music. He is a specialist in Caribbean music, specifically Haitian classical and religious music. He is author of Vodou Nation: Haitian Art Music and Cultural Nationalism in which he examined how elements of Vodou music were used by elite composers to express understandings of nasyon (nation) from the 1890s through to the US military occupation of 1915-1934.

Martin Munro is Director Winthrop-King Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University. He previously worked in Scotland, Ireland, and Trinidad. His recent publications include: American Creoles: The Francophone Caribbean and the American South; Different Drummers: Rhythm and Race in the Americas; Edwidge Danticat: A Reader’s Guide; and Haiti Rising: Haitian History, Culture, and the Earthquake of 2010. He is currently working on the theme of the apocalypse in the Caribbean.

Barbara Browning is Associate Professor in the Department of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. Her major interests lie in Brazil and the African diaspora; dance ethnography; race, gender and postcoloniality; fiction and performance. In Infectious Rhythm Browning analysed how the African cultural diaspora has continued to be represented in terms of metaphors of disease and contagion. She continues to merge practical engagement of body practices with her scholarly work, which broadly addresses performance and politics in the African diaspora.

Philip Kaisary (Chair) is Assistant Professor of Law at University of Warwick, where he received his Ph.D in English and Comparative Literary Studies.  His research interests are interdisciplinary and range across the fields of legal and literary studies, human rights, postcolonial studies, and black Atlantic studies with particular focus on disaster law and the cultural impact of disasters; the Haitian Revolution; and the legal and cultural history of slavery and anti-slavery. He is currently revising his dissertation for publication. 

Matthew J. Smith is Lecturer in History at University of the West Indies; his main area of research is in Haitian politics and society after the U.S. occupation (1915-1934) and Haitian regional migration in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. He is author of Red and Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change, 1934-1957, which argues that the period from 1934 to the rise of Dictator Francois Duvalier, was modern Haiti’s greatest moment of political promise.

Millery Polyné is Assistant Professor of American Studies, Gallatin School at New York University. His research interests highlight the history of African American and Afro-Caribbean cultural, political, and economic initiatives in the 19th and 20th centuries; dance, jazz, sports and urban memory. He is the author of From Douglass to Duvalier: U.S. African Americans, Haiti and Pan Americanism 1870-1964.

Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou

Opening  20 October 2012, Nottingham Contemporary will be presenting an insightful vision into a stream of Haitian art practices predominantly inspired by Vodou from the 1940s to the present through the exhibition Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou.

Gerard Valcin, Simbis Voyageurs (Collection GALERIE D’ART NADER)

” Bringing together some 200 works by 40 artists from the 1940s to today, and drawing from leading collections from Haiti, North America and Europe, Kafou will be one of the largest exhibitions of Haiti’s celebrated art ever held, and is unusual in presenting it in the context of a programme dedicated to international contemporary art. With few exceptions, the artists in the exhibition came from impoverished urban and rural backgrounds, and had minimal contact with the mainstream modern and contemporary art worlds. The extraordinary beauty and imaginative power of their work reflects the richness of Haitian culture and history while also contrasting with Haiti’s experience of, and reputation for, extreme poverty, political oppression and natural disaster. Kafou is curated by Alex Farquharson, Director of Nottingham Contemporary, and Leah Gordon, artist and curator of the Ghetto Biennale in Port-au-Prince.”

“Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou will trace the history of how Vodou has been represented through successive generations of Haitian art in all four of Nottingham Contemporary’s galleries, including the work of artists who were also Vodou priests (Houngans): Hector Hyppolite, André Pierre and Lafortune Félix for example. The exhibition begins with what has been dubbed the ‘Haitian Renaissance’, exemplified by the artists that gathered around the Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince founded in 1944, which brought Haitian art to the attention of international collectors and important cultural figures. Kafou represents key figures from this ‘first’ generation, including Hyppolite, Rigaud Benoit, Wilson Bigaud, Castera Bazille, Préfète Duffaut (who lived in Jacmel in the south), and Philomé Obin and Seneque Obin, founders of the distinctive Cap Haitian school in the north of Haiti. Hyppolite, Haiti’s most celebrated artist, is represented by a large number of major works from the 1940s. They are followed by distinctive artists who followed in their wake, such as André Pierre, Celestin Faustin, Gerard Valcin, Alexandre Grégoire and Lafortune Félix, while a third room brings together examples of artists associated with the Saint Soleil movement of the 70s, 80s and 90s, whose representations of the lwa are less specific, more ethereal, and sometimes verging on abstraction. A fourth section presents several recent developments, including the Atis Rezistans group, who make arresting supernatural assemblages from recycled materials (car parts, clothing, human skulls and bones) and carved wood from their downtown neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince; the baroque and visionary depictions of Vodou spirits in sequins on flags by Myrlande Constant and Edouard Duval-Carrié’s and Frantz Zephirin’s potent fusions of Vodou and Haitian political history.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue whose texts will reevaluate the significance of seventy years of Haitian art from various cultural and historical vantage points. It features new essays by Colin Dayan (author of the seminal ‘Haiti, History and the Gods’), Alex Farquharson and a ‘trialogue’ by Leah Gordon, Wendy Asquith and Katherine Smith. A major international conference at Nottingham Contemporary will complement the exhibition by considering the many ‘Afterlives’ of the 1804 Revolution in Haiti and the Atlantic World through a wide range of disciplinary perspectives.”

To find out more about this exciting upcoming exhibition and its associated events on the Nottingham Contemporary’s webpages click here.

The Brown Atlantic: Re-thinking Post-Slavery

Lai Fong, The Coolie Ship Avon Under Full Sail, c.1898

Lai Fong, The Coolie Ship Avon Under Full Sail, c.1898
The above ship carried South Asian indentured labourers across the Atlantic to replace the post-Slavery workforce.

The phenomenon of Indenture, which is addressed in the new concept of the Brown Atlantic, is introduced in the first essay in a series of three.  Entitled, ‘The Brown Atlantic: Re-thinking Post-Slavery’, Devi Hardeen’s study will present the interconnection of the Black and Brown Atlantic.

“Following a recent workshop, ‘The French Atlantic: A “Tricoloured” Ocean’, held at the International Slavery Museum (ISM), Liverpool, I was kindly invited to contribute to this ‘Black Atlantic Resource Debate’. One of the rationales of the inter-institutional project at the ISM was to develop greater recognition of Liverpool’s post-Slavery trading past. It is little known that four years after Emancipation, the first ships for South Asian Atlantic Indenture would embark from the city’s ports. The possibility of a site to reflect Liverpool’s continuing post-Slavery role was raised at the workshop. It was discussed that such a site would reflect the historical nexus between the metropole and the country of origin, India, in the legacies of Slavery. In Benjamin Disraeli’s ‘jewel in the crown’, a memorial plaque in Kolkata was inaugurated in January 2011 to commemorate Indenture. The site of museums as an interface between research, academia, and the public that can inform of the events and processes of Atlantic Slavery and its aftermath, led to positive discussions.

“Writing for this website, visitors will note that two years ago, again in partnership with National Museums Liverpool, seminars were held on the subject of ‘Re-thinking Post-slavery [sic] in the Francophone Caribbean’. Addressing that theme, within the scope of this essay, three main arguments will be attempted. In a three-fold approach, this essay will firstly introduce the new concept of the tri-partite ‘Brown Atlantic’. Thereafter, the first dimension of the concept, ‘Past’ will map the phenomenon of South Asian Atlantic Indenture. Thirdly, from this arena, study will focus on the Francophone and Creolophone mid-Atlantic island of Martinique. It will be discussed how we might ‘re-think post-Slavery’ by evaluating the impact of the Brown Atlantic, and by examining possible future avenues of exploration in the post-Slavery Atlantic world. ”

To read Devi Hardeen’s article ‘The Brown Atlantic”Re-thinking Post-Slavery” in full click here.

Art, genre et dieux: un voyage de recherche a la Ghetto Biennale de Port-au-Prince

I’m happy to announce the addition of some great new resources to the Black Atlantic site relating to Charlotte Hammond‘s exciting new research (Postgraduate Research Student in the Department of Drama and Theatre, Royal Holloway) which examines visual representations of transvestism in the Francophone Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique and Haiti and their diasporic communities in France.

Charlotte recently participated in the Ghetto Biennale in Port-au-Prince, Haiti  2011 and gave a paper titled Art, genre et dieux: un voyage de recherche a la Ghetto Biennale de Port-au-Prince as part of the ‘gender and culture’ seminar series which took place at the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, in Martinique. An audio recording of the paper – which was presented in French – is now available to listen to on the Black Atlantic Resource and is accompanied by a transcription of the paper in English, a link to the prezi Charlotte simultaneously presented, and some images of the work Charlotte produced during the Ghetto Biennale.

Art, Gender and Gods: a research trip to the Ghetto Biennale of Port-au-Prince

Within existing Caribbean (mostly fictional) representations, homosexual and trans characters tend to appear in supporting peripheral roles, often to affirm and solidify hegemonic gender binaries. Visibility of gender crossing in popular Caribbean culture, most apparent within the parameters of carnival performance, works in much the same way, more often exhibiting and reflecting dominant ideas of gender, than destabilizing and questioning the boundaries themselves.

There is a part of my project which deals with this more popular expression of transvestism, found in Carnival representation, using the work of a British artist, who like myself hails from the North West of England, Leah Gordon, whose 2008 film, Bounda pa Bounda: A Drag Zaka, depicts drag parody performed within a Rara band tradition in Haiti.

With little at stake, due to the ephemeral and sanctioned nature of what can be seen as harmless gender mimicry, the ease with which such temporary crossover is obtained makes the act a particularly intrusive form of impersonation.  The man, adopting female dress, carelessly forays into the sphere of the Other (the woman), without any concern for ‘realness’ in order to mock that which he does not successfully emulate in what Helen Gilbert terms a “spectacle of not passing” (2003).  As a process of reinscribing and renewing aesthetic standards however, it constitutes an important means of emphasizing prevailing modes of representation….

To Read more of Charlotte’s paper click here

To Listen to the French version of this paper click here

To view the accompanying Prezi click here

To Read a previous post about the Ghetto Biennale 2011

Ole Time Carnival in Trinidad

This week’s video feature is a series of three clips called Ole Time Carnival, 1959.

The colour footage is accompanied by the somewhat suspect ‘Ole time’ ‘authoritative’ voice of the ethnographer-journalist akin to that heard over the posthumously completed documentary footage of Maya Deren’s Divine Horsemen: the Living Gods of Haiti which similarly ends with a look at Haitian carnival from 1947-1951.

Part one opens with a trio of devilish looking masks grinning out at us who give way to footage of preparations for carnival in 1950s Trinidad – we are told that participants delve into the archives to research their annual creations inspired by cultures, histories and more recent characters as disparate as the Ancient Egyptians, Ivan the Terrible of Russia and Charlie Chaplin.  Contemporary political comment too is visible not least through a large group of participants dressed as a “complete naval taskforce U.S. style” pointing guns at the crowd or hobbling around in drunken groups – the commentator prefers to see this as part of a “theatre of much-happiness” rather than a biting satire on U.S. Imperialism.

Throughout the wealth of costumes and performances shown also present the endless interweaving of histories that Trinidad and the Caribbean region as a whole embodies. Characters and dress inspired by African, European, Asian and (Native) American cultures remind us of historical migrations – forced and otherwise – the cultural clashes, and commodity flows of the transatlantic slave trade and indentured eras of the Atlantic World.  The at times problematic commentary reminds us of the discursive legacies of these systems, while the fluidity of their inter-mingling in the crowd anticipate the continuation of movements across the globe into our contemporary era and the proliferating scholarship of hybridity, diasporas, creolisation and relation.

The comments for each of these videos on Youtube also make for some interesting reading as many commenters respond strongly to the costume and performance presented, harking back to carnival of the 50s to 80s which resembled “street theatre” before the event “deteriorated into a ‘masquerade mockery’ of Brazil”. Whatever your opinion of contemporary Trinidadian carnival though, the beauty and creativity of costume and performance in these videos of “the greatest show on earth” is worth a watch.