Curating Tate

Up Hill Down Hall: An Indoor Carnival

Informed by the history of the Notting Hill Carnival as it reaches a milestone half-century of existence, Up Hill Down Hall: An Indoor Carnival offered critical and artistic perspectives on Carnival. Coinciding with the Notting Hill Carnival, Up Hill Down Hall showcased performances for hundreds of participants by artists Hew Locke and Marlon Griffith against the backdrop of an architectural design by Gia Wolff and a soundscape by Dubmorphology (Gary Stewart and Trevor Mathison) with a special intervention by Central Saint Martins Fine Arts students and recent graduates.

Up Hill Down Hall engaged with Carnival as ritual of resistance, festival of otherness and performance art, and with the Notting Hill Carnival specifically as a contested site from which to reflect on notions of public space, performance and participation. It conceived of Carnival less as a theme than a medium and introduced practitioners across disciplines who draw from Carnival as a medium of artistic production and a form of social and political address.

While signaling the importance of Carnival as a performance medium with mass appeal in the culminating era of the massification of museum culture, Up Hill Down Hall inscribed these works within the politically conscious cultural legacy of the Notting Hill Carnival, born of Caribbean migration and metropolitan accommodation to the aftermath of colonialism, resistance to racism and the mainstreaming of multiculturalism and, ultimately, developed through cultural ingenuity and artistic creativity at the forefront of the formation of postcolonial British culture.