1st conference: Sustainable Art Communities: Creativity and Policy in the Transnational Caribbean
Marlon Griffith, Panel 4, paper 2: Location and actions Griffith says it has taken a long time as a person and artist to discover the complexities of an artwork and the resolution that lies in a simple object or gesture. Only through dialogue has Griffith been able to discover more about his work: ideas on paper and gestures which aren’t always activated immediately but may become part of wider narratives. Griffith's thoughts are constantly shifting but always questioning the role of static representations in our time and their implications. From the masks of carnival to the donning of powder on the chests of young women, these thoughts and gestures are not only public but are also self-criticisms. This is a practice which started with Griffith's work as a carnival designer – or “Mas’ man”, as Trinidadians would call it – which deeply shaped his work as a contemporary artist. This dialogue between Mas’ (as masquerade, or the artistic component of the Trinidad Carnival) and art has become a means of investigating the phenomenological aspect of embodied experience. It is situated at the intersection of visual and public performance, a set of installations and performance-based works that operate outside the context of Mas’. Griffith looks at ideas of perception and how these relate and respond to contemporary culture beyond the traditional roles of representation. Such ideas, thoughts and observations, while they relate to his work, may also be applied to an investigation of the larger, growing dialogue between the Caribbean region and its expanding borders. This presentation will address Mas’ as an urban public form; a form of commemoration through the body; and a way through which a society collectively and through individual gestures asserts its values and a sense of itself. As the city expands it adds a whole new dimension to these actions. What began as a community-based initiative has since gone, because there are no communities and spaces in which they can operate. Mas’ should be a metaphor for the city, and the city is re-constructed and played out within Mas’. This action came of its own natural development, the movement by this one individual animated not only the object but the city. It is not an abstraction. The processes and experiments of carnival go beyond its physical space in order to explore narratives outside the traditional platform. If carnival is too broad a term to describe this, maybe it should be called something else. As this presentation will show, Griffith is seeking to create a platform for the work to function outside the conventional. Some images, sounds or other media used in the following presentation are subject to copyright restrictions that prevent them being shown. In order to provide a complete record of the conference, these items have been blurred or silenced. Should we obtain permission to use these images, sounds and other media in the future the films will be updated.