Dust off the castanets.
It's time for ¡Carnaval!

This week, ¡Carnaval!, an exhibit which recreates the sites, sounds and pageantry of Carnival celebrations around the world will open at Piedmont Arts. For many, though, celebrating Carnival is a foreign affair. We know about Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans and, perhaps the most famous celebration of all, Brazil's Carnaval. But, for countless other communities in Europe and the Americas Carnival is a high point of the yearly cycle.

For all participants – rich or poor, young or old – Carnival provides the opportunity to play, leave the everyday world, become someone else and behave in unusual ways. In Laza, Spain you might throw dirt and ants at your neighbors, in Venice, Italy you become an 18th–century count, while in Basel, Switzerland you wear a masquerade protesting the spread of mad–cow disease. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in Recife and Olinda, Brazil, you are the queen of a royal court, in Tlaxcala, Mexico you burlesque as a French dandy, or in Oruro, Bolivia you take on the guise of a dancing devil. In Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago you strut down the street as a fancy sailor, while in New Orleans, USA you blacken your face, put on a grass skirt and throw coconuts to the crowds.

Through ¡Carnaval!, we meet people who have dedicated much of their lives to planning, creating, practicing and carrying out Carnival festivities. Through their masquerades and performances we learn about the history and cultural traditions of the various regions. We observe Carnival participants as they relieve tensions and bring a sense of renewal to themselves and their communities. At the same time we gain a better understanding of the importance and function of Carnival play. — Museum of International Folk Art

Join Piedmont Arts September 3 – October 17, 2009 for a colorful, raucous and just plain fun exhibit, which explores the many ways to celebrate the festive season that is ¡Carnaval!


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