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LO O K I NG A T T H E S P I R I T S : PET ER M INSHAL L ' S CARNIVAL DR AWIN GS

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LOOKINGAT THE SPIRITS: PETERMII{SHALL's cARl{IvAL DRAwII{Gs Cur at ed by LursC l ttn trrz e na n dT o o o Gu r-tc r


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Irl P.1-9 Developmental sketches for the mos Santimanitay, 1989.

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|r u r R o Du c r ro N Mas (derivedfrom "masquerade")is a popularform of expressiondevelopedin the Carnivalof Trinidad In n f a m a s k ,c o s tu me,structure,or otheradornmentthroughperformance. inv olv ingt he p re s e n ta ti o o w hi chcan be thoughtof as the m as , whatis w o rn i s n o t s u p p l e me n ta l :t i s c e ntralto the performance, fusion of what is worn with the expressiveenergyof the performer.The life's work of artist Peter form the di sci pl i ne, M ins halthas be e nth e m a k i n go f ma s ,a p p l y i ngto thi s vernacul arC ari bbean arti st. int egr it yand , in te rn a ti o n acl o n s c i o u s n e sosf a contemporary that to exhi bi tthe w orksof t i n s h a l li n a g a l l e rysetti ngmust acknow l edge A ny at t em ptt o re p re s e nM art themselvesis imoossible.Eachmos existsin its momentin time. after which it ceasesto exist. and vi deo W hat r em ainare th e re m n a n tsa n d re s i d u eo f the w ork: notes,draw i ngs,photographs, ( A n d , i t.) A mong w ho experi enced memory of al l those o f c o u rs e th , e c o l l e c ti v es o ul -seared r ec or dings . " thumbnai l "sketches.suchas are exhi bi tedherei n t hes er em nan tsa re th e a rti s t' sd e v e l o p me n tal Looking at the Spirits:Peter Minshall's CarnivalDrawings. l d i u mof Mi nshal l ' screati veprocess.A t i ts most basi c,i t i s a T het hum bnai ts k e tc hi s th e e s s e n ti ame pr ac t ic alt ool f o r fi n d i n gs o l u ti o n sto d e s i g np r obl ems.W hat i s that headpi eceto l ook l i ke,the one for t he s ec t iont ha t p o rtra y sth e c h i l d re no fth e m oon?D rawa fi gure,and draw a shapeon the head.D raw anot herf igur e ,try a n o th e rs h a p e .D o a d o z e nof these.W hat materi ati s the thi ng madeof, and how would the choiceof materialaffect its shape?Drawenlargeddetailsof severalvariations.As it begins t o look s" r ight," p u t th a t h e a d p i e c eo n a fi g u r eal ongw i th otherel ements-the cape,the w i ngs,the t h u n d redti mes. f lag,t he abs t ra c ts e m i -c i rc l eR. e p e a a , i n s h a l l ' sre n d e ri n go f th e h umanfi guresometi mesreachesextremesof styl i zed I n t his pr oc essM T h i sh a p p e n sn o t b y d e s i g n ,b u t becausethe hand i s i mpati entto get to that w hi ch i s to abs t r ac t ion. seeksto renderthe essentialfigure in the feweststrokes be discovered,and so (unselfconsciousty) pos s ible.O t he rti me s ,i n a l e s su rg e n tmo o d ,the handw i l t l i nger,enj oyi ngthe proporti onand the ec onom yof lin e a s th e h u ma nfi g u ree m e rg e sbeforemovi ngon to the adornmentor structure. y, ght not have and vi brancyof l i ne that, paradoxi cal l mi T he uns elf c on s c i o u s n eysise l d sa c o n fi d e n c e beenac hiev edh a d th e a rti s tfo c u s e do n th e d raw i ngas producti nsteadof as process.Thi svi brancyi s E venthoughhe of danceand cel ebrati on. height enedby th e c o n te x t,a l w a y si n M i n s h a ll ' saw areness, m us t f r eez et he h u m a ns h a p eo n th e p a g ei n orderto renderhow i t mi ght bearthe mas costume,the ener gyof t he C a rn i v asI tre e ti s i mp l i c i t. A ll t hat hav ingb e e ns a i d ,i t i s i n th e i r a g g re gateas evi denceofthe creati veprocessthat these E achone ofthe hundredsof pi ecesof paper dr awingshav ep e rh a p sth e mo s t to c o mmu n i cate. r epr es ent a s di s c re tem o m e n ti n th e a rti s t' sl ongand gradualw orki ngout of w hat the w ork w i [[ i nhabi tedby bec om e,in all i ts m y ri a dc o n s ti tu e npt a rts ,a s i t i s cut and sew n,craftedand constructed, the mas playersand taken out into the street. M ins hall' spr o c e s sre n d e rse x te rn aw l h a t i s o f ten i nterna[.The maki ngof art i nvol vesperhapsa few i n s p i re d v i s i o n d o mi n a te db y a gruel i ngprocessof testi ng,doubti ng,sorti ng,and div inem om en tso f dec is ion- m ak i n gF.o ra p a i n te r,th i s p ro c e s sm i ghtoccuri n a troubl esomecornerof the canvas,pai nted over a half-dozentimes. Forthe theatredirector,there are the differentdramaticinterpretations at t em pt ed,r eh e a rs e da, n d to s t i n ti m e . F o rM insha[[,the mas arti st,the fi nal artw orki s ephemeraIand y si bl e,w ri t l argei n the inc apableof be i n gp re s e rv e db, u t th e c re a ti v eprocessi s uncommonl vi hundr edsand th o u s a n d so f l i n e sa n d s k e tc h e di mages,abl i zzardof fl utteri ngscraps.

Tooo Gulrcr


Tne KTEPER o F rn e Leus " N o .H i r o s h i m aN! o!No tin fr o n to f th e ch ild r e n !" PETER MINsHALL C,a lla lo a o n d d e Cr a b '

PeterMinshalt's fietdof actionhasworkedagainst hisrecognition within themainstream art world:Hedoesn'tusetraditional art forms,choosing performance, insteadto workwith Carnival the hugepopularstreet is in Trinidad celebration, andhisbaseof operations andTobago. Carnival placeshimin an areagenerally for "high"art expectations, unsuitable and putshimin thecontext Trinidad of a colonial andpost-colonial culture ratherthanwithintheinterests of thecultural centers. Minshall's work doesn'taddress thesmallcrowdof theart world,but ratherthe bigcrowd of thestreets of Port-of-Spain. Andyet,Carnival in Trinidad, or more precisely mos-a derivation frommasquerade andusedas in "playing performance mos"-featurespractica[[y all the dynamics of cutting-edge art andinstallation whilepredating thoseformsby overa century. Because it belongsto a differenthistory,it is considered a local,vernacular, and popular expression, lacking significance for anyspeculation about"high quatitythatgives art."But,it is precisely thisvernacular, bottom-up Minshal['s art so muchpower. pushof ther98os It is surprising thatin spiteof thestrongmulticultura[ andr99os,Carnival hasn'treallymadea serious entryintothecanon. The presence firsttimeCarnival's wasacknowledged in mainstream art history wason theoccasion of the belatedrecognition of theworkof Brazilian artistH6lioOiticica, whoseparticipation in a RiodeJaneiro sambaschool influenced hisworkand,thereby, theworldof highart.But,in Oiticica's case,Carnival nothisareaof influence. servesasanecdotal background, process Thereverse takesplacewith Minshatl who,informedby European mainstream culture,workswithinandgivesexpression to the worldof the popular. Awarethat hisfeetareplantedfirmlyin bothworlds,andthat places on the periphery suchasTrinidad arehardlyidealpadsfromwhich to be launched intothemainstream, Minshalt oncewrote: Tothe FirstWorldartist,masis [ikelyto appearexotic...And to the nativeTrinidadian, althoughhe may lovehis mas,he wit[ not havethe culturaIself-confidence to think it worthyof a placealongsidepaintingsin the Louvre...Yet, if one considers the extentto whicha work in the masengagesmembersof the community, by comparison to a work in the mediumof paintingor sculpture, this atleged "exoticism"beginsto fall away.'

Author'sNote:I would liketo expressmy sincerethanksto the foltowingindividualswhoseassistance was invaluable to the realization of this proJ'ect: GloriaYoungSing,PatGanase,KathrynChan,ChrisCozier,CharlotteElia,and SoniaDumasat CLICO. 1. PeterMinshall,Collalooand de Crob(Trinidad& Tobago,1984),90. 2. PeterMinshall,'Carnival and lts Placein Caribbean Cultureand Art,"Caribbeanvisions: Contemporaty Paintingond Sculpture(Alexandria, Virginia:Art ServicesInternational, lgg5), 52. Minshall'seducationand life exempllfythe difficultpassagefrom colonialstatusto independence that characterizes the culturalexperience of muchof the modernworld.lt was Minshall'sboomingand precisevoicethat announced, overthe radio,the ceremonies of the first raisingof the nationalflag in 1962,an occasionblessedby the Queenof England, who sent her cousinPrincess Aliceas a representative and witness.Theeventfeaturedthe acceptance of a new Coatof Armsdesignedby CarnivalartistsGeorgeBaileyand CarlisleChangand the singingof a newlymintednationalanthem.Typicallyfor suchan anthem,the musicwas not inspiredby localCalypso music,but ratherby the longdeadEuropeanmodelthat determinedheroicsongselsewhereduringthe independence movements of the nineteenthcentury.Evenas Trinidadian livesare pledgedto'this our nativeland" and the "blue Caribbean Sea,"it is donewith the archaicand alienphrase"to thee."lt all suggestsa lackof urgencyin the cuttingof artificial,and imperial,umbilicalcords.

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eveni n the grayestof cu[turaIcl i mates,C arni val o f tra d i ti o n sa n d e xpressi ons A c om plexc o n g l o m e ra te an i nformati onhub more f inds unus ua l tyfe rti teg ro u n di n T ri n i d a dT. h e i standi s a zoneof encounters, B ai tey(rgl l -r9zo)' t han lus t a ge o g ra p h i c apl l a c e .u n d e rth e v i rtuatrei gnofthe desi gnerGeorge traditions,as much Carnivalabsorbedas much informationfrom local life as it did from variousAfrican super from the latest expressionsof BlackPoweras from Hollywoodwar moviesand Biblical pl ace, mi xi ngsuch take conti nueto , e cross-ferti ti zati ons , a n k sto Mi n s h a tlth pr oduc t ionsT. o d a yth W esternart trends,and i magesand i deas dis nar at es o u rc e sa s Me x i c a nD a n c e so f D e ath,mai nstream A t th e sameti me, he conti nuesto honorthe ol destof tradi ti ons, f r om loc alan d i n te rn a ti o n apl o l i ti c s .3 A fri cai s " the D i onysusof t hos ec om in gfro m Afri c a ,w h i c h h e re fe rsto as consi stentw i th hi s beti efthat the spi ri ts."A l l of c ult ur e. 'His , ma s k s ,n o m a tte rw h a t th e s o u rce,he says,are tool s for " l ooki ngat hal f mi l ti oni nhabi tants t hes ec ult ura lv a ri a b te sc o m p a c te di n to th e ti fe of a smatti sl andof one and a C a rn i v abl e n e fi tsfrom a cornucopi aof i nformati onthat can be di gestedand m eanst hat Tri n i d a d i a n Indi an,E uro r ec y c ledby a ti v i n gc o m m u n i tyT. h e c o mp l e xw eb of di versepoputati onsi n Tri ni dad-A fro, and i n-betw een; ( pr edom ina n tty F re n c ha n d Bri ti s h ),C h i n e se,Mi ddteE astern;poor,ri ch,mi ddl e-cl ass, before,and Chr is t ian,Hi n d u ,Mu s l i m -a tl fl o w i n to a v a st ri verof acti vi tybegi nni ngmonths c ut m inat ingi n tw o d a y so f n o n -s to pm o v e menti n cel ebrati on' processthat i nvol vesthe I t is t his c oll e c ti v i tyth a t M i n s h a l lmo l d si n to the humanartw orkof hi s mos,a s n e rgi esof the mul ti tude,engagi ngi n a di al ecti cof freedomand c r eat or , ss ha p i n go f th e s p o n ta n e o u e with fixed structuresancl contro[.CarnivaIof coursehas a tendencyto take on the characterof a ritua[, yet, Carnivalis a ptacefor the orders,a dynamicthat can affect both creatorsand participants.And that l edom,personaldreams.l t i s w i th thi s i uxtaposi ti on indiv iduatt o te t g o , to e x p re s sp e rs o n afre c a n d o w hateverthey w i sh as l ong i t fi ts i nto hi s l oosel ypl anned M ins hat as t c re a to rp ta y s :Pa rti c i p a n ts physi calenergyof the c hor eogr ap h yT.h e a rti s t p ro v i d e ss tru c tu resand costumesthat ampti fythe and potenti al l ycl ashi ng-al so par t ic ipantsT. h i sa m a z i n gi n te g ra ti o no f fo rces-often contradi ctory m anif es t sit s e l fi n th e n e g o ti a ti o no f th e re tati onsof the i ndi vi duaIvi s-i -vi sthe col l ecti ve. form of col l ecti ve I n it s beginn i n g si n T ri n i d a dd u ri n gth e e a rt yni neteenthcentury,carni valw as a to w h i te ra c i s ma n d col oni alrul e.l t combi nedthe FrenchC reol etradi ti onof o f re s i s ta n c e ex or es s ion after the sugarpre-Lentencelebrationwith the canbouloyfestivities(cannesbrAl1esor "burnt canes" C arni valremai neda of the sl aves. c anec ut t in g ),w h i c h b e c a m emo rea s s e rti veafterthe emanci pati on i n to the tw enti ethcentury,w hi ch may exptai nw hy thereseems t n d c u l tu ra Ire s i s ta n c e f or m of pot i ti c a a i n the very structureof the event' a n d i n di vi dualtransgressi on t o be r oom r e s e rv e dfo r i n d i v i d u a ti ty , i th i ts ambi gui ti esand i ts shi fti ng Car niv al' cs o v e ri n gth e s p e c tru mfro m c o l l ecti veto i ndi vi dualw CatholicMassand electricity,createsthe spacewithin which the artisticeffecttakes ptace. Both the powerthrough rigidly the buttfightare paraltelspectaclesto Carnival,but they providetheir aesthetic structurethat imposedpatterns.Carnival,instead,has a stableframeof referencewith a ftexibte C arni vali s expected allowsf or in d i v i d u avt a ri a ti o n sA. n d w h i teMassand butl fi ghtstayw i thi n the ri tual ' to providenew spectaclesfrom year to year. producti oncostsfor each Howev erC . a rn i v ails a l s o b u rd e n e db y b e i ngan expensi veproposi ti on.The The par t ic ipat i n g" b a n d ," w h i c h s o me ti m e sn u mberaSmanyas 5,ooomembers,can be staggeri ng' producti on'trucksw i th nec es s it yof p ro v i d i n ge l a b o ra tec o s tu mes,runni nga mds campw orkshopfor suppti esof food and bands), l i ve or r w i th ei therD Jteams s oundequi p m e n t(4 o -fo o ttra c to r-tra i l erigs mai orenterpri sew el l dr ink s ,s up p o rtp e rs o n n e [,s e c u ri tyc re w s 'et cetera.makesthe spectacl ea play'Thereis no state beyondwhat one may expectfrom traditionalart or even from a theater

kites'oskar them areAlexandercalder,AkiraKurosawa'BertoldBrecht,AntonioGaudi'chinese 3. Minshail,ssourcesare muchmoreprofuseand among others' of a multitude and Magritte, Ren6 Serra, Richard Schlemmer,


s ubs idyand e a c hb a n d h a s to fu n d i ts e l f,p rimari l yby havi ngparti ci pants pay f or t heir o w n c o s tu me s . Des igner ar s e fre eto d o w h a te v e rth e y w a n t i n termsof arti sti ccreati onas long as t he me mb e rsa re w i tti n gto p a y .T hi sputs the burdenof ac c ept anc on e th e d e s i g n e r-th e rei s a l w a y sspecul ati onon how far the band m em be rsw i l l b e w i l l i n gto g o . So , w h i l e mas i s a negoti ati on bet weent he i n d i v i d u aaI n d th e c o l l e c ti v ei,t i s al soa terrai nfor soci aland ec onom icf or c e s :T h e " d e s i g n e r"i n i ti a ti v ei s unl i mi tedas [ongas the cart of y .h e i n e rti aof anonymouscol l ecti ve t he r it ualc an b e p u l l e ds u c c e s s fu tlT r it ualsenc ou n te rsfre e e n te rp ri s ea, n d fre e e nterpri seoften sponsors l c om m er c eat th e e x p e n s eo f c re a ti v i tyT. h u s ,creatorsl i ke Mi nshal are effi ci ent c ont inuallyf a c i n gth e p re s s u rec o m i n gfro m the morecost aes t het ic sba s e do n " b i k i n i s ,b e a d s ,a n d fe a thers,"an aestheti ctake-off from LasVegas4. O nes t r engt ho f M i n s h a l t' si s p re c i s e l yth e a v oi danceof the trapsof c om m er c iali s m -h i sk e e p i n gth e a re ao f c re ati oncl ean.A nd w hi l ethere have been severalinnovatorsin the mas tradition (GeorgeBaitey, t s o n e o f th e ma sters,bei nga promi nent ac k nowledg ebdy M i n s h a l a ex am ple)M , i n s h a tti s p ro b a b tyth e o n l y a rti stw ho has beenabl eto trul y blendin high -a rtd e v i c e sa s w e l t. of , e re fo re,i s not onl y a consequence M ins hat l' spa ra d i g m a tipc o s i ti o n th al l of the p ro d u c ti o n s . embodi es H e s u c c e ssful l y a l s o his s pec t ac u l a r contradictionsof being a free artist who follows his creativeinstinctson t he highes tan d mo s t ri g o ro u s[e v e [a n d o f b ei ngan i ntel l i gentproducer and negot iat o r.H i s a rt tra i n i n ga t th e L o n d onC entralS choolofA rts and Des ignpr epa re dh i m to b e a c re a to rfro m th e " top dow n,"one w ho addr es s esa re l a ti v e l yp a s s i v ep u b ti c .H e w a s educatedto be an l e fi n i te l yfi ts that profi l e), indiv idualisct re a to r(a n dM i n s h a l d c om m unic ati nagn d s h a ri n gh i s i n s i g h tsw i th the pubti c.Indeedi t i s hi s pr epar at ionin a b s tra c th t i n k i n ga n d i n d i v i d ual i sti ntui ti on,hi s educati oni n art, and hi s i n c o n temporary d o f th e e v e l o p me n ts t he appr ec ia ti o n s at has al l ow edhi m to use under s t and i nogf th e s h a p eo f s p e c ta c l eth crowdsas canvasesfor abstractshapesand colors,to use their movements to createkineticsculptures,and to integrateimageryweightedby tradition into "galleryaesthetics."

these elem ents,bandsavoidthe pr oductionof el abor atec os tum esand m ai ntai nti ti l l ati on.T he w or ds hav ebec om e 4 . B y e mph a si zi n g e mbl emati cfo r a debasem entof Car nivalin Tr inidad.In the 2oo5 C ar ni v ala c hi l dr en'sband w i th the nam e" W e F edU p of D e Sam eT i ng i ns.hal l O veran d Ove r" D er for m edacr iticalcar icatur eofthistendency ,w ear i nganex agger atedam ountoffeather s ,beads ,andflM ags di d no t p a rti ci pa tein this Car nival,pr om ptinganotherchildr en' sband to par adew i th the nam e" A Pi nc hof M i ns h."T he i nc r eas eof the . i ns hal li s i n fac t al i enated L a sV eg a sl o o k h a s changedthe char acterof Car nival,incr easing lsyepar ati ngs pec tator sfr om par ti c i pantsM who solelycom eto r elishthe bikini a es theti c s": F ool sar e they w ho pay thei r m oneyto go and s i t i n the fro m tho se n o n -par ticipants S ava n n a hto se e th is continualpar adeand the sam etune playingal l the ti m e. l f y ou w ant to s ee nak edl adi es ,s tand up on the p a ve men t;muchcl oserview" ( "A conver sationr e: the exhibition'1981',"M i ns hal lat C C A7,F ebr uar y23, z ooz ) .fhe Sav annahr efer sto e osswhich the m as bandspassand per for m ,and the gr ands tandand bl eac her son ei thers i de,w hi c h ar e l oc atedi n the pl atfo rm-stag acr the Q ue e n 'sP a rkSavannah,a lar geexpanseof par klandin Por t- of- Spai n. to the author . 5. P at G an a se ,2 o o5.Com m unication

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wereon theTrinidadian workingon theatresets,histhoughts wasin London Yet,evenwhileMinshall Thecostume wasto Bakercostume. instructions for a Josephine mas.ln t97y he wrotehis memorable form of a 9ztookthe of t97zandtheinstructions sisterin theJuniorCarnival bewornby hisadopted letter,filtedwith pagelettertohismother, of thepiece.'The of the production whowasin charge groundfor what precise ambiguity, laid the as to eliminate any so illustrations thatwereminutely in hismind:the makingof thethumbnai] maiorresearch tooIto findimages Minshall's wouldbecome pads profect Each Minshall startswithcountless of this exhibition. for the butk drawings thataccount ornaments to small to detailed a position filtedwithsketches thatrangefroma simplelinecapturing a honed, Rigorous editingleadswhatseemsto startaschaosto become articulations. mechanical finishedspectacle. ln Donse accentuation of contrasts. a skitted worksreachtheirfinalformtheyundergo OnceMinshall's (r98o),for example, as an enormous in an imageof deathmaterialized darkness is embodied Macabre into dancing cathedra[ that is wide, a dress made a high and forty-feet twenty-feet spiderycontraption Theimagespeaksbothto the streetandto activated by the walkingof a singleperformer.u effortlessly is ColourGg8), the wavingof In otherworks,suchas Cornival the spirits.lt killswith sublimity. or independently happiness, thecolorsbiltowing a flowingriverof ephemeral colored fabriccreates red"sculpted"peoplecarryingchairs, the ln RED(t998),oneseesamassof unitedintoawovenfabric. everybody of unanimity, expression bubbting colorcomingto a restwhen,dueto somemysterious created work,patterns stopsto sit downin frontof the paneIof jurorsandstaresat them.In Minshal['s The played individuals. people the actions of off against arealways of massesof by the movement Andin atlof in monumental iconicimages. or is present eitherarticulates thecollective counterpoint popular at the often despised "from sense of aesthetics the truly the bottom up," this,thedynamic porousto hotdMinshalt in check, forcinghimto pickup on cuesthatultimately top,is sufficiently on whichhethrives. magic.lt is a lovinggameof pull-and-push enrichhisindividual hedesigns comfortable when,freeof tradition, it shouldbe notedthathe is equally Nevertheless, performance gamesor produces as he didforthe installation, a for theOlympic inaugural spectacles of Havana.' 6th Biennial largebandsof the produced oneof theprominent Company, masband, by hisCaltaloo Minshatl's (around refersto a members).u The word callaloo r5oo smaller r98os,hasbecomesomewhat aswith primarilyprepared leavesandokra.However, pot of mixedvegetables with Dasheen Trinidadian foods. mainly an excuse to assemble as soncocho, caltaloo serves and the Colombian Cuban ajiaco the it is hisnourishment . ln t984,he usedtheterm is muchmorethana metaphor; for Minshall, Callaloo, for over mostof thethemeshe hasbeenusingin hisproductions to entitlean epicstorythatinformed (the pot is the maincharacter, an everyman melting In the story,"Callaloo" a quarterof a century. Hiroshima is Madame Hiroshima. by hisnemesis, intoa hero)whois persecuted anthropomorphized destruction. Callaloo is Caltaloo's eviIwomanwhosemainfunction to attempt explosive an enormous, According to Minshall, thereis a himself. coutdbe anyoneof us,but he is alsoverymuchMinshall 16, on first bomb was tested Mexico, where the atomic Trinity, New between connection July ry45, and by sexualplayfulness humanevilis undermined ln Calloloo, incommensurable Trinidad, thecountry. w i r esand , e ex tendedthe s tr uc tur esw i th s pr i ng- s teel 6 . On e of th e i n sp i rationsfor M inshall' scom plexconstr uctionwas aLum i numbac k pac k sH co n n e cte dsome b a r s to the ankles,thus addingboth foot contr ola nd s tabi l i tyto hi s c ons tr uc ti ons . 7 . E ventho u g hthe wor k for the Olym picswas in a m or etr aditiona l l ypr ofes s i onalar ena,i t s houl dbe notedthat M i ns hal ls ti l l had to negoti atethe , v ol unteerpar ti c i pantsand the needto appeal a rti st'svi si onw i th the tastesof the pr oducer s,the needto m otiva tethous andsof non- pr ofes s i onal an d cultur eto the "com m on"m assesof a wor ldw i deaudi enc e- not s o di s s i m i l arfr om the negoti ati onr equi r edby a m os band i n i ;::::::" tr" * 8 . T hi ssti l t pu ts Mi nshall' sm os band am ongthe twelveto fifteen l ar geones ,w hi c h i s to s ay am ongthos e w i th ov er 8oo m em ber s .


Minshall's advice. intomatter-of-fact andhumor;terroris downplayed ..No, onso warning is a children!" the of in front Not Nol phrase Hiroshima! of laughter' againstanexplosion manylevelsit knotsthestomach strips,is writtenin for comic as Homer fit for much as story, Theexuberant patois. The with enriched heavily of Engtish a localversion Trinidadian, is aboutthe epicbattlebetween masproductions, story,aswith Minshall's is nota consequence goodness, wheregoodness evilandquotidian cosmic sincewe areonly"a of harmlessness, buta reflection of saintliness, darkness'"' of lightin an incomprehensible smudge described Minshal[ conversation, someyearsago,duringan informal on many wasrevealing Thestatement of carniva[." as "the Feltini himsetf but didn'trecallthecomment' Minshatt In a laterconversation levels. the with "gorgeous of the combination justified Fettini's it by admiring wasmuchmore grotesque, andhisinterestin circuslife."Fellini,however, wasan director The Minshalt. for analogue thanthatandis indeeda perfect as muchin touchwith somebody individuatist-populist, idiosyncratic whousedtheaudience somebody more, or aswiththeaudience, himsetf theaudience whilealsohelping himself as a lensthroughwhichto perceive personal epicand between to seeitself.Hewasabteto bturthe borderlines in operated had thatif Minshalt perception. Onecouldspeculate cotlective However' a moreaffluentsocietyhe mighthavebecomea grandfilmmaker. a develop to was able of film,Minshall byworkingwithmosinstead for showingactive whomhe respects differentrelationwith hisaudience, payforthe right people mos pointed in out, participation. As he hasoften mos' to be a witness.Playing to be a part,ratherthanfor the opportunity is nottherefor gawking theaudience in otherwords,is the realspectacle, As sport"in the bestof senses. it wantsto enioya "spectator but because chaosmeets reet.Al[thingscometogether. putsit, "Thesenses Minshall with crossed performer is from audience order.Thechasmthat separates ease."'" playingoff the affectionof mainstream art historyfor [abels,Trinidadian workas"roadworks," Minshatl's refersto artistandcriticChrisCozier place whichhavean honored with"earthworks," hisspectacles contrasting to thepublic' inaccessibie whilebeingtargely art discourse in mainstream theroleof cozierunderlines ownviews,quotedearlier, Minshatl's Echoing of not andtheconsequences of recognition, fortheachievement location to were spectacles] like[Minshall's "lf something beingin thecenter: therewouldbe miles theory, for art power locations the of in one happen of text."" usthat culturereminds rolein shaping workandhisparticular Minshatt's formsof thatthereareonlyvernacular thereis no realcanon, uttimately

H ar tfor d'c onnec ti c ut g . p e te r Mi nsh a ll,Septem ber1g88.Addr essat the wor ld car niv alc onfer enc e,at T r i ni tyc ol l ege, 2o fr om Bar celona, l ul y ' his tr iends, to Letter 10 . P ete rMi nsh all,1992. i es ,"m anus c r i ptfor a tal k of 1998'l ater publ i s hedas y 11 .C h ri sC ozi er,"Tr inidadrQuestionsabout Contem por arHistor ,,caribelnsular,Exclusi6n,Fragmentaci6n y Paraiso,"Revistode caso de las Am6ric4s(Havana'1998)

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asthe canon,but in doing erectsits ownformof vernacular Withinthem,the mainstream expression. periphery. this is Fortunately, thanthe andcertainlylessreceptive so it maybe evenmoreprovincial realityandcopingwith it than is a betteronefor understanding Thelensof Carnival notveryrelevant. greater imagery perhaps thanthe amazing even mostlastingcontribution, manyothers.AndMinshall's of this lensto protectit fromthe the polishing artist,is probably as an individual he hascontributed years tapestry, muchofthe Carnival recent has consumed in feathers" that fogof"bikinis,beads,and Minshallonce of identity.Fittingly, visionfor the renewalof formsandthe development andreserving The tightfilted me. heavens opened upon my island. The "l was on t974z his beginningsin described of acuity,Minshallis in the my being.I hadbeenblindbefore.NowI couldsee.""As the guardian of a whole the expression voicewhileadvancing an individual enviablepositionof remaining mainstream canclaim. is onethatno artistin the Thispositionof trueculturalleverage community.

unpubl i s heddoc um ent 1 2 .P ete rMi n sh a l l ,'Tr inidadCar nivalzoo4: The m asm an' sper spec ti v e,"


Thisis number56 of the DrawingPapers,a seriesof publicationsdocumentingThe DrawingCenter'sexhibitionsand publicprogramsand providinga forumfor the studyof drawing. Thezoo5-zoo6seasonof the DrowingPapersis madepossiblethroughcontributionsto the EdwardHallamTuck KathyFuld, PublicationProgramfrom FrancesBeattyAdler,Maryand RobertCarswell,RobertDuke,ElizabethFondaras, EllenGallagher, Mr. and Mrs..lamesR. Houghton,WernerH. Kramarsky, JoanneLyman,MichaelLynne,iohn J. Madden, Inc.,Shearman& SterlingLLBand LilyTuck. The Felixand ElizabethRohatynFoundation, GeorgeNegroponte,

Drawingsismadepossibleb, PeterMinshall'sCarnivol Lookingot the Spirits:

ilF

Additional support is provided by The Reed Foundation, [nc. and the Ministry of Community Development and Culture, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

C A T H E R T NoEe Z e e r e n ExecutiveDirector G E o R G EN e e n o p o r r e President

Board of Dlrectors F u r c e s B E A T T YADL ER Chairmon ERlc C. RUDrN Vice-Choirmon Drn Arrronv J E A NM A G N A N oBo L L INGER M e L v a B u c x s ea u ilr S r e p x e n S . D ANIEL F R A N c E SD r r r MER

Cor-rr,r Erslen ELrzlaerxFlcton B n u c e W . F E R GUSo N B A R R YM . F o x l a m e s R . H e o e r s, lV W e n r g n H . K RAM ARSXY* ABBY LEIGH* M I C H A E LL Y N NE lRrs MARDEN C A T H E R T NOER ENT RET cH E L I z A B E T HR o x ltYtt* h r e D n e s r e n Sn o lxl A L L E NL E ES e sso n r r s M t c H A E LS r e r n a r n e Jearre C. Trlvrn* A N D R E AWo o o N ER *Emeriti

DrawingCenterPubtications Editor ADAMLEHNER. Executive Luc DERYCKE, Designer Coordinator IoANNABERTiAN, The DrawlngCentel 35 WoosterStreet NewYork, NY1oo13 Teli 2a2-2tg-2r66 Faxt 272-966-2976 www.drawingcenter,org @ zoo5TheDrawingCenter


P.13-20 Pagesfrom a 91-pageletter written in late 1921by the artist,then in England,to his mother in Trinidad, Baker,a masperformedby methodsfor elementsof Josephine the designand construction communicating the artist's adoptedsisterSherryAnn in the TrinidadCarnivalof 1972.


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Looking at the Spirits: Peter Minshall's Carnival Drawings