MAS’: From Process to Procession

MAS’: From Process to Procession introduced six artists and one art collective who take inspiration from the Caribbean carnivals of Trinidad — popularly known as Mas’, short for masquerade — the Dominican Republic and Curaçao, as well as from the American festivals of New York’s Halloween and New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. Coming from or having worked in the Caribbean, the artists in the exhibition recognize Carnival and these related festivals as potent vehicles for artistic practices with a public reach and a global appeal.

MAS’ explored performance, processional art, Mas’, costume design, photojournalism, experimental film and sculpture to reflect upon the creation process of contemporary Carnival manifestations from work-in-progress to street procession. The topics addressed include the celebration of New Orleans’ architectural heritage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the revival of the West-African tradition of stilt-walking by the Moko Jumbies, the ongoing feud between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and the acknowledgement of Curaçao’s Papiamento in spoken-word poetry.

Taken together, the works in MAS’ challenged traditional modes of artistic creation and curatorial presentation, and in so doing, revealed Carnival or Mas’,with its formal innovations, satirical appraisals, and political positions, as one of the most complete yet underecognized contemporary art forms.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Todd Gulick, Manager of the Callaloo Company came to discuss the importance of Trinidad Mas’ in the development of Carnival as art practice, contemporary Carnival practices in the Caribbean and beyond, and why Carnival or Mas’ is an energetic and valuable art form.