Rights Of Passage: A Contemporary Dragon Mas
CARNIVAL MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2006
PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD
Design by ALEX KAHN and SOPHIA MICHAHELLES
The traditional Dragon Dance is a spontaneous, site-specific event. A body of water encountered along the route – a riverbed, storm drain, or gutter – will send the Dragon into his paroxysms of fear and rage. The Dragon's adversarial response thus elevates any humble puddle into Holy Water and burlesques a revered Church sacrament. Yet the Holy Water stands less for Catholic authority in particular than for any power structure in general – political, economic, racial or cultural – through which hierarchies are established and societies stratified.
In our Mas we gave water a human form, as five masked Sirens. Contrasting the raw aesthetic of the Dragon and Imps, the Sirens embody the empty opulence of commercial Pretty Mas. The Homeric Sirens’ song of fatal temptation parallels the Creole myth of the Mama d'Lo, a water nymph who lures unwary fisherman to the deaths. Instead of song, our Sirens used the trappings of Pretty Mas, echoing the luxurious promises of the "all-inclusive band."
With ornate bodies made from recycled umbrellas, the Sirens were adorned with blue sequins and shimmering satin cloth. Centered on the outstretched tentacles of the umbrellas their pale unearthly faces created a terrifying barrier for the Dragon to cross. He charged once, then again; finally on his third attempt he crossed over, dragging the Imps behind him, at last exercising his right of passage.
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|NOTE: Except where otherwise credited, all above photographs © 2006 Stefan Falke. Usable only with permission of the artist. www.stefanfalke.com|