TABLE OF CONTENTS

MUSEUM PIECE

Masquerade

IT IS A TRUISM by now, but not necessarily untrue, that the culture of the “Other” is usually appropriated to the dominant one, even when (or as) it is being appreciated. This is a particular problem in the museum, where cultural artifacts from those decreed “marginal” often take on the look of trophies, booty claimed in the cultural wars, and D.O.A. We—white, bourgeois, often as not male—look but don’t see. Don’t because we don’t want to. Don’t, some say, because we cannot: “Trying to find the other by defining otherness . . . is, as Zen says, like beating the moon with a pole or scratching an itching foot from the outside of a shoe.”1

This “cannot” came to mind the other day when I made my way to the Brooklyn Museum to see “Caribbean Festival Arts: each and every bit of difference,” the first exhibition, the press release said, of the Afro-Caribbean arts associated with Carnival, Hosay,

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