Lucol and Jean-Charles gave their vision of carnival in “Mas Kontré”

From February 8 to 28, the Creole Lounge association presents at the Pavillon de la Ville in Pointe-à-Pitre the exhibition “Mas Kontré”, artistic expressions around the traditions of “Mas a Po” in the Guadeloupean carnival, with two artists: Félie Line Lucol and Jérôme Jean-Charles

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To access the installations, the visitor does not enter the rooms directly, he must first pass through a curtain in strips of fabric, tye and dye style.

On the left, is the work entitled “Kontré Kònn” by Félie-Line Lucol which symbolizes a parade of carnival lovers in a “skin group” or “Gwoup a Po, in Creole”. It was placed diagonally and, with the play of light, the shadows on the walls give the impression of a crowd.

“To carry out this work, it took a long reflection to know how I was going to translate the theme of “Mas Kontré”. Then, it took a lot of preparation”, said the artist. She benefited from the precious help of visual artist Patrice Léopoldie with whom she used to work.

“To achieve “Kontré Konn”, I decided to work with ox heads so months, in advance, I started to look for them, which was not easy. Finally, I had ten ox heads that had to be boiled, cleaned, bleached in the sun for three months. These heads were mounted on sticks and represent about twenty people. In addition to twenty natural horns, we made forty false horns made with paper like leaflets, plastic bottles and other salvaged things. Everything was fixed on rot-proof rail sleepers of the former sugar factory in Beauport”, explained the artist.

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Showing the evils of the world in carnival

Right in front of this room is the first work by Jérôme Jean-Charles entitled “La Marche du Monde”. The central character is a woman dressed in black with a very dark face and she is on her knees. Some visitors do not expect such a staging, they are surprised or even frightened and follows a long discussion with the artist. “The idea of including this character who seems very real in the installation came to me at the end. She is dragging behind her all the ills of society, when its black veil touches people, it causes desolation; these evils of the world are denounced with derision by the “skin groups” in carnival. Here it’s the same thing but with an artistic vision”, explained the sculptor, from the “activ’art” movement, whose works often placed on the roadside in Guadeloupe aim to increase the population’s awareness.

“Participating in this “Mas Kontré” project was a challenge for me. In addition to these installations, in August 2019, I led multigenerational workshops in different districts of Pointe-à-Pitre (Mortenol, Massabielle and Bergevin). This exchange with people also contributed to the long upstream research work I did to make these installations”, he explained.

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Questioning in an exhibition

The second work presented by Félie-Line Lucol, “Fwété Mas”, is also very impressive. It is one of the essential accessories of the “skin group”, that is the whip, appreciated by some and hated by others because of its link with slavery, the noise of its crack… The artist was not satisfied with a normal whip but with a giant whip. “It is a mixture of sisal, plant lianas from my garden, wire, electric wire, fabric. The whip was deconstructed so that we can see its elements, it is moving because they are craking it”, she said.

Félie-Line Lucol had a lot of fun working on this carnival project, although she was quite critical about the evolution of the Guadeloupe carnival: “when I was young, carnival was a fun time, but also a moment of strong claim for everyone which is a little lost. Today, if you don’t have the appropriate costume you can’t parade in a group, everything is rigid, regulated (…) This exhibition is not meant to make us comfortable, it is a questioning”, she said.

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Enhancing recycled materials

In addition, although she never was a member of a carnival band, she is one of the precursors of clothing made with recycled materials. “In 2007, I created 60 costumes for the band “Black Marbré” with plastic bottle bottoms transformed into flowers. It was new at the time. The band won the 5th prize at the Carnival of Basse-Terre”, she remembered.

The other installation proposed by Jérôme Jean-Charles is called “Lespwi Mas” (The spirit of the Mas). Four characters made from recycled materials (plastic can, burlap) stand at the four corners of the room. “We had to respect the color code: black and white. I recovered, transformed and sublimated. I wanted to show the mystical, spiritual side of the Mas, some carnival lovers say they are indwelt by something when they participate in the parades of “skin groups”. This work is a continuation of the workshops, I improved the finishing”, he said. The artist who has a weakness for “skin groups” never belonged to a carnival band : “I am a spectator, I listen and I look at the aesthetic side, the ability to make beauty out of simple (…) The public was pleasantly surprised by our work, some people were scared but that is part of the questioning”, he said.