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CANADA. TRINIDAD and TOBAGO. Internationally renowned masquerade designer Brian Mac Farlane's works at the Royal Ontario Museum
30/07/2012 15:25:32

The Royal Ontario Museum presents Carnival: From Emancipation to Celebration, featuring the work of internationally renowned masquerade designer Brian Mac Farlane along with Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival photographs. As an opportunity for visitors to also commemorate this year’s celebration of Jamaican and Trinidad and Tobago Independence, and Emancipation Day, Carnival is displayed in both the Hilary and Galen Weston Wing on Level 2 of the ROM and in the Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court from July 28, 2012 to February 24, 2013. The exhibition’s February 2013 closing coincides with Black History Month.

Carnival offers a journey through Mac Farlane’s stunning carnival creations from the last three years: Resurrection: The Mas (2010); Humanity: The Circle of Life (2011); and Sanctification…In search of (2012). Trinidadian-born Mac Farlane, a legend of local costume craft and an internationally respected artist, is currently designing 2,500 costumes for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England. Mac Farlane is a record-holding six time Trinidad and Tobago carnival costume champion since starting to design Carnival costumes in 1984. His work is visionary and thoughtful, deeply engaged with history, politics, social, and environmental issues. Many consider Mac Farlane’s “Mas” work as the ultimate representation of the valour, vibrance, vigour, and vitality of Carnival. In the last two decades, Mac Farlane has won countless awards and accolades for his awe-inspiring designs. His work has also been recognized by the United Nations for its environmental and critical content.

In the Caribbean and in the diaspora, Carnival is an important celebration of freedom against oppression. In the 18th century, people of African descent were banned from participating in the pre-Lenten Christian festivities and masquerades (now referred to as “Fete” or “Mas”) of their French and British masters. Enslaved Africans therefore developed their own carnival characters and performances.

When the abolition of slavery in the British Empire was fully implemented in 1838, people of African and South Asian descent transformed Carnival celebrations by introducing new and subversive elements into the performances and music of festival. In Ontario, Carnival was first introduced to Toronto in 1967 - a gift from the local Canadian Caribbean community to Canada to commemorate the centennial of their new northern home. Now in its 45th year, Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival has grown to become the largest street festival in North America.

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Image: Brian Mac Farlane - Annihilation. From Sanctification...In Search Of. Port of Spain, Trinidad, 2012 © 2012 Brian Mac Farlane.

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