Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

  • picks April 01, 2015

    “EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean”

    This expansively ambitious show curated by Claire Tancons and Krista Thompson is based on a fresh postulate for history and an apt query for today. The exhibition proposes that carnival—that great tradition of pre-Lenten partying in public, endemic to former slave societies in the Caribbean basin—has played a crucial role in shaping modern culture everywhere. It’s not only people in Trinidad and Rio and New Orleans, these days, who build stylized lives around Fat Tuesday’s “farewell to flesh”; Caribbean-style carnivals are also New York and London’s biggest and best-attended yearly public events.

  • “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World”

    IN 1949, the great Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier published his novel about the Haitian Revolution, El reino de este mundo (The Kingdom of This World), describing in its preface those aspects of his hemisphere’s history that shaped its art: “The virginity of the land, our upbringing . . . the revelation constituted by its recent discovery, its fecund racial mixing.” He concluded, “After all, what is the entire history of America if not a chronicle of the marvelous real?” That query became a manifesto for a generation of South American writers. But, as one is reminded by the vast and varied visual