University scholar Christopher Innes and visual artist Marlon Griffith, the Art Gallery of York University’s artist-in-residence, will discuss carnival and contemporary art Tuesday at York.
“Mas by Other Means: A Conversation between Carnival and Contemporary
Art” will take place Feb. 4, from 3:30 to 5:30pm, at 519 Kaneff Tower,
Keele campus. It is presented by the Art Gallery of York University and
the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean. Everyone is
welcome to attend this free event.
Innes will speak about Peter Minshall’s work with Carnival in
Trinidad and about the carnival photographs of Jeffrey Chock. A
Trinidadian photographer, Chock documented Carnival, theatre and dance
performances in his country over many decades, leaving behind an
extraordinary document of Trinidad’s mas traditions and their echoes
across different artistic forms at his recent death. Chock’s photographs
are published in Trinidad Carnival (2006), and his collection is currently being digitized at York University.
The author of 15 books and more than 120 articles on various aspects
of modern drama, Innes holds the Canada Research Chair in Performance
and Culture at York University, where he is a Distinguished Research
Professor. Since his grandfather took him to see Peter Pan at the tender
age of four, he has been fascinated by theatre, and his work has
focused on the connections between performance and society. His most
recent books are Carnival: Theory and Practice, edited together with Brigitte Bogar (2012), and The Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Directing
(2013). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and of the Royal
Society of Arts in the United Kingdom, as well as a Killam Fellow. For
more information, visit Christopher Innes’s website.
Beginning his career as a ‘Mas’ man for Carnival, Griffith’s current
work derives its form (and to an extent its process) from the
performative, participatory, and ephemeral characteristics that derive
from Carnival. His work is based upon a reciprocal dialogue between
‘Mas’ (the artistic component of the Trinidad Carnival) and contemporary
art as a means of investigating the phenomenological aspect of the
embodied experience while interrogating contemporary visual culture
outside the traditional pitfalls of representation.
Often taking the form of street processions, Griffith’s performative
actions are stripped down to their basic form and abstracted to create
new images and narratives that respond critically and poetically to our
Griffith will speak about his recent projects in the context of
movement, both in the processional sense of bodies-in-motion but also as
forms-in-translation. How does the movement of cultural forms from one
location to another – for instance from Trinidad to Japan, or Cape Town,
or Toronto – or from one context to another – from Carnival to
contemporary art – change the meaning and potential of the form itself.
How does the migration of forms change the places they move to? Or the
contexts they are presented in? How do performative forms of colonial
cultural resistance in the America’s engage with other public
manifestations of solidarity, such as recent protest movements
Griffith (1976, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) has been an
artist in residence at Bag Factory/Fordsburg Artists Studios in
Johannesburg (2004); Mino Paper Art Village in Japan (2005); Edna Manley
College of Visual and Performing Arts, Kingston, Jamaica (2007); Popop
Studios, Nassau, The Bahamas (2010-11); and Art Omi, Ghent, New York
Recent projects include new commissions for Gwangju (7th Gwangju
Biennale, 2008), Cape Town (CAPE09, 2009), MANIFESTA 9 Parallel Projects
(Hasselt, Belgium, 2012), and AICHI TRIENNALE (Nagoya, Japan 2013).
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