Location: Paris, Ile-de-France, France
ROOTS, RITES, AND REBELS: Return to Carnaval
Winter and spring; barren and fertile; life and death; beauty and ugliness; light and dark; chaos and order – the annual festival of Carnaval is much more than a party and parade in the streets. Dating from pre-Christian times, this local celebration shows a complex diversity of specific customs intersecting with universal themes. Reinforcing regional and national identity, it marks the change in seasons, and provides an opportunity for the inversion of typical roles and social norms.
Over the past 10 years and in over 14 countries, I have documented the traditional celebration of Carnaval, collaborating with ethnographers and local experts to find its most folkloric, yet living, manifestations.
I combine in situ portraiture with reportage photography, details, and landscapes to provide a deeper view into this expression of the human spirit. I select smaller villages and towns, focusing on the most traditional, authentic, and community Carnavals, ones that often have few outside visitors.
A wide cast of perennial characters with local significance – rowdy spirits, mythical beasts, simulated marriages – all honor the continuum of birth and death, mark the cycle of the seasons, and allow for inversions of norms, with transgressions of gender and accepted roles as well as social commentary or subversive satire of those in power.
Through this ritualistic inversion and a suspension of time where anything goes, the participants retrace and honor their ancestors’ enactment of rites of the season, evoking cyclical transitions and opposing faces of the human condition.
In a time of screens, computers and simulations, there is a movement back to the analog, gritty and chaotic experience of Carnaval, back to roots and a feeling of something more primal, animal, and pagan.
In March 2022, the work was published as a 10-page portfolio in GEO France. A book is planned for 2023.