Mas' in the Museum?
Carnival, Performance and Exhibition
In 2014, a year short of the 50th anniversary of the Notting Hill Carnival, Claire Tancons was invited by Tate Modern to curate a performance in the Turbine Hall as part of the BMW Tate Live series. How can Carnival occupy the location of the institution? What position can mas perform in the museum? Where should roadworks occur outside of the territory of the road understood not as the space of the street but rather as both an escape from and perpetual return to the Middle Passage? Drawing from her historicization of the modern carnivals of the Americas, conceptualisation of the contemporary practice of processional performance and contextualization of the notion of roadwork, Tancons shares insights into her decade-long critical engagement with post-Bakthninian Carnival theory and curatorial experimentation with large-scale public performance against the practice and discourse of performance in contemporary art.
As a curator and scholar of performance, Claire Tancons has experimented with the political aesthetics of walking, marching, second lining, masquerading and parading in large-scale public performances as part of emerging and established international biennials including Prospect New Orleans (2008); the Gwangju Biennale (2008); the Cape Town Biennial (2009); Biennale Bénin (2012) and the Göteborg Biennial (2013). In addition to being a guest curator for the BMW Tate Live Series at Tate Modern (2014) Tancons was more recently the artistic director of Tide by Side, the opening ceremony of Faena Forum Miami Beach (2016). She is currently the artistic director of etcetera: a civic ritual for Printemps de Septembre in Toulouse, France. Her touring project EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean (with Krista Thompson; CAC New Orleans, 2014-15 and ICI New York 2016-18) received an Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award.