Blog September 21, 2012
Come Play Mas!
Travel this weekend to the expansive fields of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for a thoroughly unique Carnival celebration! This FREE event will begin at 3:00pm (it ends at 8), and will feature music, performance, film, dance, costuming, sculpture and more. In conjunction with the exhibition "Caribbean: Crossroads to the World," the Carnival at Queens Museum of Art will present a wide variety of the various forms of celebration as they are practiced from Cuba to Barbados! Activities range from traditional mas making, to Afro-Caribbean percussion workshop and steel pan demonstrations. There are crafts, clowns and masks for the kids, dancing for all and enough space for everybody! Celebrations culminate as the Brooklyn Jumbies, Request Band, Raram, and La Cumbiamba NY lead revelers in a spirited parade around the twelve story steel Unisphere outside of the museum.



The exhibition (which is a stunningly curated collection of rarely seen art from across the Caribbean) is open for viewing duration of Carnival celebration if anybody needs a break from the music, color and dance. Artists from across the Caribbean islands represented include but are not limited to Peter Minshall (screening of film Mas Man through out the day), Sonnylal Rambissoon (Trinidad), Mario Benjamin (Haiti), and Enoc Perez (Puerto Rico).

An especially exciting feature of the Carnival is Raram, a Haitian Rara group based in New York. Based on the traditional walking rhythm that emerges from carnival parading, rara is a syncretic form that pulls from a combination of Taino and Amerindian forms.  The contemporary rara band  makes use of the guiro, a tube-like trumpet which play one singular note, as well as saxophones, trumpets and trombones. The songs are almost always in Haitian Creole, and implement elements from traditional Voudoun, with its lyrics taking on social problems like political oppression and poverty. The music and its performers are often seen as a disruptive voice in Hatian society, and and players of rara have been criminalized by authorities for causing chaos, a charge that often centers on musics potent combination of wild dancing and political dissent. Ethnomusicologist Elizabeth McAlister believes rara, in addition to being fun and profound is "at once a season, a festival, a genre of music, a religious ritual, a form of dance, and sometimes a technique of political protest." Hope to see you all at CARNIVAL!!