OCCUPY MY BODY
Hand dyed cotton, thread & wadding
Alice Yard Collective, WH22
This soft sculpture explores the nature of the Trinidad Carnival in its ability to transmute trauma held in the body, into a site of liberation and joy. The festival has historically provided an outlet for subaltern peoples to challenge colonial dominion, whilst claiming physical and intellectual autonomy, through carnival’s inherent suspension of established power structures. The collective actions of masqueraders, which include adornment, music, oral tradition, dance and other performance practices, have satisfied a purpose beyond that of mere revelry. Amidst the rupture of imperialism, the Carnival has challenged historical erasure through cultural preservation and the deployment of covert socio-political critique.
The text featured in this piece references a chant traditionally deployed by stick fighting masqueraders and can be translated as “Children without a mother see misery” (J.D. Elder, 1998), alluding to the damage caused through dislocation from ones homeland during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The madras textile was chosen because of its association with sartorial resistance, particularly in its historical use by Caribbean women.
Courtesy Documenta Fifteen, Photographs by Nicolas Wefers and Shannon Alonzo