Baby doll

DCFA presents Baby Doll mas

Features



A traditional carnival doll character interacts with watchers at The Old Yard. – ANGELO MARCELLE

THE traditional baby doll character is enjoying a resurgence in visibility as practitioners explore new meanings for the character. The Department of Creative and Festive Arts (DCFA) at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine, explores and chronicles this resurgence in its exhibition Baby Doll Mas’: Old and New Interpretations, which opened on Sunday.

The exhibition features visual and photographic works by Maria Nunes, Kevin Adonis Browne, Rebecca Foster, Abigail Hadeed, Donald “Jackie” Hinkson, Arnaldo James and Colin Williams. There’s also a display of a contemporary mas doll, courtesy of Tracey Sankar-Charleau’s mas group, The Red Thread Cycle. The exhibition also presents excerpts from essays on mas written by mas students from the UWI course: history, development and meaning.

Emily Rennie portrays the doll character during the St James Social and Cultural Committee Traditional Mas Character Parade at St James Amphitheatre, Western Main Road, St James, on Wednesday evening. Tracey Sankar-Charleau of mas group The Red Thread Cycle says more children should be encouraged to play mas doll. – SUREASH CHOLAI

Curator, lecturer and visual arts coordinator Dr Marsha Pearce said baby doll mas is currently experiencing increased visibility, as is moko jumbie mas.

“It seemed like people were really reinvigorating those traditional forms and I think they were closing that gap, not seeing them as past performances or past characters, but really seeing their relevance in today’s context.”

Mas history, development and meaning teacher Omari Ashby said the course explored how traditional masquerade forms are used in a contemporary sense and that the doll was one of the most effective, as well as the one of the most accessible in terms of research. . He said the students received a fresh perspective following a presentation by practitioner and researcher Amanda McIntyre, which gave them a good entry point into the masquerade.

Jude Charleau portrays a doll in the St James Social and Cultural Committee traditional mas figure parade at St James Amphitheatre, Western Main Road, St James, Wednesday evening. – SUREASH CHOLAI

Speaker and carnival arts coordinator Dr Joanne Tull said the exhibit was an extension of the decision to feature a group of contemporary dolls during The Old Yard, the DCFA’s annual traditional mas figure event. The group featured was the Belmont Baby Dolls, founded by choreographer and dancer Makeda Thomas, with this year’s theme being Spirit Dolls, in collaboration with visual artist Brianna McCarthy. Tull said that traditionally the Old Yard showstopper focused on performing a traditional mas character, but this year she wanted the mas to convey a message to the audience.

“Mas speaks, and we should be able to listen to mas. In TT and indeed across the region, we have struggled with issues around gender-based violence (GBV) and the character of the doll in its contemporary interpretation and manifestation. a always sought to convey some sort of message about women’s issues, women’s rights, the marginalization of women, and by extension other marginalized groups in our society.So in 2020 why does the University of the West Indies not wouldn’t she try to convey that kind of message to Carnival through her own The Old Yard, and in that regard, the doll seemed entirely appropriate.”

A masquerade baby doll, played by Christian-Kendahl Rock, embodies the mas at the DCFA baby doll mas show on Sunday. -Paula Lindo

She said the exhibition featured a collection of works by TT artists who also saw the importance and significance of the doll character and in doing so showed TT that the traditional mas is not dead.

Thomas said being asked to exhibit and perform her mas at The Old Yard feels like an affirmation of the work she has done.

“I loved the amazing feedback we’ve had from people who understand what we’re trying to do, that it’s absolutely steeped in tradition, but it’s daring to go something else. We We’re here with real people, in a great institution about learning and culture, so it feels good.”

Sankar-Charleau said that while it was really good to see the mas doll featured, she wished there were more people playing her. His band was inspired by a poem from author Shivanee Ramlochan’s book Everybody Knows I Am A Haunting (Peepal Tree Press, 2017).

The Belmont Baby Dolls Masquerade Jamie J Philbert and Nyah Thomas, daughter of bandleader Makeda Thomas, play mas at DCFA’s Old Yard on Sunday.
PHOTO BY PAULA LINDO – Paula Lindo

“We need to encourage more children to play in the direction of being a doll. It’s a heavy and powerful mas and it has a lot of layers that could be exploited and taken further with this whole doll persona, not just which we’ve been used to doing over the years. With a lot of the issues we’re having right now in the country, this character has a voice and could talk about these topics, rather than just the normal illegitimate father and I’m looking for the milk and money We can give a voice to the character and also a voice to speak on behalf of his baby, his children.

The exhibition runs through February 26 at Exhibition Hall, DCFA, Gordon Street, St. Augustine.