Carnival: Girl in the Box

'A Camera to Capture You With'

The Carnival Celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago cause me panic, tension and discomfort. In 2009 I decided to surrender myself to those feelings. I came out on to the streets dressed in a full length tunic, a mask/ box on my head and a camcorder strapped to my chest. I was dressed prepared for a symbolic confrontation. I was completely covered, so I was invisible but I had a camera to record every threatening moment that is the 'Parade of the Bands'.

All I did was follow the follow the bands as did many others who would not pay an exorbitant amount to play Mas barely dressed and within the barrier of rope and security guards. Some people interacted with me and surprisingly it was not too threatening. As I walked between crowds some people played the top of my box-head as a drum and others, much later in the night tried to get me to take it off. Surprisingly none of this bothered me; it was expected and somehow pleasant to have this kind of interaction.

This character functioned as a vessel to see and record but not be seen itself. The sensory experience were as traumatic as could be imagined. It was hot being covered completely; it was uncomfortable having to constantly adjust the costume; it was difficult to see through the eye-holes in the box and the music from the trucks were unbearably loud. Most astonishing was that the other people's behavior was not in any was assaulting to me. Somehow all my armor made me feel safe in the chaos. I was able to view them objectively as if I was watching them on t.v. , they were all 'nobodys' who could do me nothing.

Me in Costume during the Carnival in Woodbrook

Interestingly I learned much later in the year that Box Mas is another Traditional Mas that is almost completely extinct. In 2010 Adele Todd performed another version of it. More on her portrayal can be read on her blog

At the end of the year I put for sale some of the documentation of this work at the Alice Yard Shop opening. Photos from the event can be seen on the Caribbean Free Photo's Flickr Photostream