INDEPENDENT CURATORS INTERNATIONAL
EN MAS’

Marlon Griffith

  • Marlon Griffith, POSITIONS + POWER, 2014, Port of Spain, Trinidad. © Marlon James, 2014.
  • Marlon Griffith, POSITIONS + POWER, 2014, Port of Spain, Trinidad. © Marlon James, 2014.
  • Marlon Griffith, POSITIONS + POWER, 2014, Port of Spain, Trinidad. © Arnaldo James, 2014.
  • Marlon Griffith, POSITIONS + POWER, 2014, Port of Spain, Trinidad. © Arnaldo James, 2014.
  • Marlon Griffith, POSITIONS + POWER, 2014, Port of Spain, Trinidad. © Arnaldo James, 2014.
  • Marlon Griffith, POSITIONS + POWER, 2014, Port of Spain, Trinidad. © Arnaldo James, 2014.
  • Marlon Griffith, POSITIONS + POWER, 2014, Port of Spain, Trinidad. © Marlon James, 2014.
  • Marlon Griffith, POSITIONS + POWER, 2014, Port of Spain, Trinidad. © Arnaldo James, 2014.

POSITIONS + POWER, March 4, 2014, Port of Spain, Trinidad

POSITIONS + POWER is an intervention in the space of carnival that uses the body as a primary medium, stripping mas’ of its decorative elements while maintaining a balance between the material and the immaterial. Through the interactions between the masqueraders and an ominous mobile surveillance tower, reminiscent of police booths present at carnival time, POSITIONS + POWER illuminates power relations in public space. POSITIONS + POWER also makes visible negotiations of class and ethnicity through body makeup inspired by the local fashion of chest powdering which is done by women in working class communities.

Masqueraders perform in unprotected public space to reveal how interactions with simple objects and everyday gestures shape our existence. The act of powdering the chest, which is frowned upon by the middle and upper classes, becomes a form of protest. White patterns adorn the skin and black hairnets become masks, providing a critique on both racial and socioeconomic divides. These actions and images become part of the landscape, along with the processional’s sound track—an amalgam of heartbeats and breathing—and create a haunting atmosphere.

Updates

POSITIONS + POWER FEATURED IN THE TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO GUARDIAN

Marlon Griffith’s recent performance Positions + Power is featured in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.

Read more »

ARC MAGAZINE FEATURES MARLON GRIFFITH

ARC Magazine features one of the first performances for EN MAS’: Marlon Griffith.

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About the Artist

Marlon Griffith

Marlon Griffith (1976, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) started his artistic practice as a Carnival designer—a “mas’ man,” as Trinidadians would call him. This background deeply shapes his work as a contemporary visual artist, which has performative, participatory, and ephemeral characteristics that derive from Carnival. Griffith’s work is based upon a reciprocal dialogue between ‘Mas’ (the artistic component of the Trinidad Carnival) and art as a means of investigating the phenomenological aspect of the embodied experience: it is situated at the intersection of the visual and public performance. Experimenting with fundamental questions in perception, Griffith’s work interrogates contemporary culture outside the traditional pitfalls of representation. Operating outside the context of Mas’ Griffith performative actions are stripped down to their basic form and abstracted to create new images and narratives that respond critically and poetically to our sociocultural environment.

Griffith 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); and Popop Studios, Nassau, The Bahamas (2010-11); and Art Omi, Ghent, New York (2011). He has shown extensively in North America in Toronto (South-South: Interruptions & Encounters, 2009); Miami (Global Caribbean, 2010); Washington (Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions, Art Museum of the Americas, 2011); Champaign (Krannert Art Museum, 2011) and other locations and internationally in Gwangju (7th Gwanju Biennale, 2008) and Cape Town (CAPE09, 2009) and MANIFESTA 9 Parallel Projects 2012, Hasselt, Belgium, AICHI TRIENNALE 2013. In 2010, Marlon was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and of a Commonwealth Award. He has been residing and working in Nagoya, Japan since 2009.


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