Sept. 25, 2011 – Jan. 8, 2012


The traditions of ¡Carnaval! have arrived

¡Carnaval! highlights eight Carnival celebrations from communities in Europe and the Americas (including Mardi Gras). The exhibit will feature a unique art installation of full-sized Carnival parade puppets created by local Seattle artists.

From the earliest known incarnations in 12th century Rome through the present, Carnival season has been a vital part of community life around the globe. In Laza, Spain, celebrants might throw dirt and ants at neighbors. On the other side of the Atlantic, in Recife, Brazil, throngs gather to play frevo (to boil) music or dance the passo (umbrella dances), which grew out of acrobatic knife dances performed by young men who used the dance to threaten other gangs. In Tlaxcala, Mexico, men dress as French dandies and perform a burlesque dance.

¡Carnaval! tells the story of these celebrations through the voices of the people who plan, create, and carry out the festivities every year. Images, video, costume pieces, and masks from their performances relate the history and culture of Carnival while conveying the importance and function of community building through play.

The exhibition is a full sensory exploration with visual, audio and interactive experiences. ¡Carnaval! includes:

The exhibition was made possible by NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The exhibition is toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance through NEH on the Road.

Junior Moco Jumbie stilt walkers, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 2001.
Courtesy Museum of International Folk Art, photo by Robert Jerome