Memento Mori: 2010 NY Village Halloween Parade
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Uploaded on Mar 2, 2011
Memento Mori was the theme performance for the 2010 NY VIllage Halloween Parade. Alex Kahn and Sophia and Michahelles of Superior Concept Monsters worked with Haitian Carnival artist, Didier Civil to evoke the syncretic religious traditions of Haiti in a procession of Guede, or sprits of the Dead.
Twenty years ago, the Day of the Dead skeletons first took their place at the head of the NY Village Halloween Parade, linking New York's festival of All Souls to ritual traditions worldwide -- the Guedé in Haiti, the Skull and Bones Gang of New Orleans, the calaveras of Mexico, the Midnight Robbers of Trinidad, and beyond. "Memento Mori", or reminders of death, have dwelt in the corners of Western art and architecture since antiquity, but it is in places where tragedy is ubiquitous and everyday existence a struggle, that expressions of the Dead are at their most exuberant. These spirits -- as they return to drink, to play, to linger and above all, to dance -- offer us a mirror to see with fresh eyes the everyday things in our lives, rendered invisible by routine. Every sound, action, and motion we take for granted, they rejoice in - on the one night they can. So each year, when the giant skeletons take their place at the head of the Halloween Parade, they are not grim expressions of the morbid, but rather reminders of all that remains vital.
Guided by Didier's experience in the ritual traditions of the Guedé, or spirits of the Dead, we worked together to create a Haitian shadowland of illuminated tombs ruled by the Voudou figures of Baron Samedi and Grann Brigitte. To lead the jubilant cortege forward, we created four Night-Mares (in homage to Maya Deren's "Divine Horseman") and incorporated imagery from related traditions worldwide -- a medieval line-dance of Totentanz skeletons, and an entourage of giant Calaveras-style skeletons joining their brethren at the head of the Parade. The procession was anchored by dozens of members of the local Haitian community who gathered to take part, dancing to the deep backbeat and lilting horns of Dja-Ra-Ra, a traditional Haitian Rara band based in Brooklyn. As Memento Mori brought its syncretic fusion of celebration and remembrance to the streets of New York, we recalled another Latin adage: "Vita Brevis Ars Longa": life is short, but art endures."
Learn more from the Processional Arts Workshop site: www.processionalart.org
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