Carnival - Why I Love You So - A Minshall BLOG

Thursday, August 16, 2007 Clivia R 4 Comments

I have some friends, who, as much as they love me, sort of grudgingly put up with my obsession with carnival and Kaiso and the BOY. HAHA. Maybe they don’t believe me, and you can tell me if this is not the same for you, but i have an almost organic reaction to carnival.

I know this to be true because sometimes the smell of sun block on slightly sweaty skin will immediately put me back in the middle of a band. I call it HERE

It’s a specific moment , when the DJ music fades away, the people by the truck screaming for their drinks suddenly lose all sound, and the man next to you who been wining out a time the WHOLE DAMN TIME suddenly seem like he doing the Matrix dance.

Its when the drink in your hand and the little pebble in your shoe losing all significance...cause right in that moment, in your cleverly designed costume that might leave you eating bread and cheese for the rest of the year, and all the fetes that didn’t really come up to scratch except to give you an almost hangover but you had to be there any way don’t matter...because you are HERE.

And that is the moment you savor; Because in that moment you see the grand scheme of things; that even though this might be your personal experience, YOU are a single organism that is moving an entire body...you see YOUR place in this grand scheme...its Euphoric for me...An out of body experience.

I don’t need another drink...i don’t need a soul to be jammin on me...i could just chip chip chip chip all by myself...because I’m suddenly both bigger and smaller at the same time.

I am HERE.

That is carnival. My first remembrance of carnival, not necessarily my first experience I’, saying, My first remembrance , I'm unsure as to my age...but i remember being in a twin sized pram...Me on one side and my best friend as a child Tracey Davis on the other.

We were dressed as Angels, white taffeta dress that made noises when we moved. A little halo on our heads wrapped in tin foil. I remember silver glitter on my face and being afraid to touch my face because the glitter might get in my eyes. [I still have an aversion to glitter].

I can’t remember who was pushing us. I can’t remember why we weren’t walking but being pushed. I remember my hair being in a big disheveled, uneven afro puff, and hers in a looong ponytail down her back ...

But even then i can remember the sense of being wrapped up in something bigger, part of a spectacle. Maybe that’s why dance and art came easy to me. I always felt like i was allowing myself to be part of the larger consciousness.

I remember being one of the members of a dance delegation that went to a Carifesta launch being hosted in Trinidad. The dancers were asked to wear costumes created in the vision of Peter Minshall for the opening show.

I was a BACHAC. All you laugh. I was in HEAVEN

One. I was wearing a Minshall original. Two. This was Performance art. Real Mas.


That we the experts of Mas were sharing with the world. I remember Sonja Dumas was there too. She was something higher up the ecological chain that a Bachac. I can’t remember what exactly; all I do remember is that she was wearing one of those costumes by Minshall that appears to be fabric wrapped around rings of wire to create a bouncy, floating, forever moving character of some sort.
You know the one!! With the discs around the face like in RIVER!!I loved it, but was quite content with my costumes.We were dressed completely in white. Don’t look for curves or sexy here. No Abs Training necessary. White drawstring Dhoti pants, white long sleeve leotard with a spandex hoodie that wrapped around your head and ears. We were indistinguishable from each other.

It struck me then, as it does now, that all race, size, beauty, scars, disappeared at that moment. We were all white androgynous beings. Now you might say that Bachac not white but it was all part of the vision. They lined us up at the point of entry in order of height. So you know miss 4 foot 5 [at the time at least] was leading the line [tek a wine tek a wine now].

The other part of our costume however, kinda resembled a medieval torture device. Made out of rough, unpainted, lightweight wood, there was a hole that was large enough to fit over the head, and padded underneath to rest on the shoulders. Two handles extended from the shoulder to give the maneuverer a secure way to hold and move the base of the piece.

But above. Above it suspended by delicate pieces of wire and wood and deliciously light fluid fabric, were the leaves. Bits of fabric shapes like leaves...cut of by the sharp mouths of the Bachac....uneven bits. with veins still in them, none perfect, misshapen, and with every move and bend of the dancer underneath swaying in the breeze, following each other, in one specific trail, the foot in the space that the one in front just left…..just like Bachac do.

Even being part of the spectacle could not detract from my experience as part of the whole. As we moved, bending forward and back, traipsing over the field moving back and forth, I was “HERE.” Brain in awe, stimuli overloads maybe? Thank god my body remembered the steps because my MIND was somewhere else.

It cemented in my mind that Minshall is a genius. BACHAC. What else could speak of Us? Of our Trinidadian identity. Following each other sometimes, blindly, sometimes not by choice but by happenstance – being short. What of the leaves?? Misshaped. Damaged. Broken, But OH so important to those who carried them.

A treasure. A prize. Did we see ourselves as Treasure? Can we? Why did this Man chose something so LOWLY to display to the world as part of what we are? Because there is DIGNITY in it. This trail of Bachac is something so Natural, to us that we may not even realize that we’ve seen it. What Trinidadian, large or small, poor or rich, could not relate, could not identify with a trail of Bachac moving up the road.

I was HERE again.

That’s what MAS used to be for me. It still is. Minshall’s River and Mancrab left such impressions on me – I had nightmares.

Who could forget..seeing people start of so pristine and white and ending up covered in blood, awash in color . I miss him. Hearing the song SAVAGE to this day transports me HERE!

Trying to figure out the image that was being presented. The story being told that sometimes maybe I was not knowledgeable enough or read enough to understand or comprehend. It would LEAD me to research. It TAUGHT me!! Do you realize that??

I’m still transported HERE.Everyone argues now about bikini mas- beads, color, and feathers. And maybe the focus is not on the context of the band vision as much as it used to be.

But I believe that times change, so does art. Mind you, watching bands like Trini Revelers and Macfarlane on the road re conjure these images for me….but so does Tribe Myths and Magic, and Island People Animal Instinct. It still drives me to research. It still intrigues me to see a designer struggle with the ENDLESS possibilities that exist when an Idea is presented and to decide to myself if that vision succeeded for me.

I must play MAS.

I hope that I will Play until I CANNOT.Because I must be HERE.

Apparently Glendon Morris Agrees with me: I quote:

As a Minshallite, you did things not for yourself; you did things for the presentation. You went through pain, and you had to do things that Minshall wanted you to do, or expected you to do. People even used to say he was an Obeah man, but it was what he created. He was so controversial that he became interesting. I remember we were all sitting talking about Minshall's mas and saying that he didn't know what he was doing and that he was going over the bounds of the kind of mas he was portraying. An African guy was in our company and he said, "You know Minshall has created exactly what he wants, and it is the only thing you all are talking about." Minshall created controversy and that was it. Everybody was talking about it. It was only Minshall, Minshall, Minshall. What is he going to play this year, or what craziness he was going to come with? Minshall created that kind of thing. I would tell you how crazy we were. We were all sold with Minshall.

4 comments:

Well yes gyul!!! Yuh some it all up for me.

Tallest said...

Thanks Trini By Injection. A VAPS fly up in muh head this morning.

Lol!!! Well I does feel di same way here. I getting so excited for all these carnivals especially TnT.

MAS ASSASSIN said...

tallest yuh bring a lil water to my eye ....
PLAY YUH MAS!