below and in further installments you will find a photo-project completed by Bernát Iváncsics, student of Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and participant of TC’s Trinity-in-Trinidad program researching Caribbean and West Indian culture. The project was done in accordance with his internship at Lyndersay Digital Ltd. in St. James, Trinidad.
Trinidad and Tobago, a nation of West African and East Indian descendants, sits on the edge of the South Caribbean sea only 10 miles off the Venezuelan coast. A land of paradise and industrial waste, the twin-island state celebrated its 50th birthday as an independent republic only two years ago, in 2012. Now a Hungarian journalism student decided to set off and capture the magical and mysterious, as well as the mundane and littered, side of the country. A crucial part of this photo essay is based on photographing the Trinidad Carnival, the Caribbean cultural heritage of celebrating joy, national identity, and the memory of anti-colonial resistance in the form of Mardi Gras inspired street parades and music bands.
“Faces – Places – Traces” wants serve as a tryptichon to showcase a Central European vision of a Caribbean republic.
Faces (2014, Trinidad)
Girls in uniform entering the front yard of Arima Public School on a Friday morning at 6:50 a.m. Many public schools in Trinidad maintain religious affiliation and require uniforms, a heritage of European colonialism.
Young girl looking startled at our passing school bus between Moruga, the southernmost village of the isle Trinidad, and Las Lunas. Literally living on the edge of civilization, people in rural areas rely on sustenance fishing and hunting in the nearby rainforest.
Woman of East Indian descent holding up a shrine on the western coast of Trinidad near the Temple of Hanuman Murti (background). The small temple was named after a spiritual man and yogi who was denied by British colonial authorities to build a Hindu shrine on British territory. Consequentially, for thirty years he shoveled pebbles and soil into the sea to produce a small artificial peninsula on which he could eventually construct the temple.
Fisherman refreshing himself with a bucket of water on the western coast of Tobago, the sister island of Trinidad. Tobago today relies on tourism but the majority of the population is still cut off from the industry and must sustain itself from natural resources.
Man on a water truck sprinkles the partying crowd on Jouvay morning in Port of Spain. “Jouvay” stems from the creolized expression of “jour ouvert,” “the opening of the day” in French. On Carnival Monday, Trinidadians celebrate the metaphorical performance of anti-colonial resistance against 19th century British authorities. The commemoration stages the riot and street marches of emancipated slaves in Trinidad between the 1890s and the 1900s. Today, Carnival revelers march out of the capital city at 4 a.m., and spray each other with body paint, reenacting their predecessors’ clay and mud disguise during the riots. At 8 a.m., the marching crowd returns to Port of Spain to party, but also to cool down and wash the paint of oppression.
A “Devil” reenactor during Jouvay. The role of the Devil or the Blue Devil, along with a series of other archetypical characters, is constructed from folk myths and Creole French masquerade themes. It represents a witty but evil character, who is known to act upon its instincts and attack innocent bystanders.
A young man stands exhausted in a pan yard in Port of Spain after a 5-hour long rehearsal for the Panorama Finals, the major musical event in Trinidad. The steel pan is Trinidad’s national instrument, an instrument percussive and melodic at the same time, which now features as a national heritage of the nation. On Emancipation day (August 1) all around the world Trinidadians and West Indians living in diasporas in London, Toronto, or New York City, generally play on these instruments while marching in bands.
A Trini Reveller singing during Carnival 2014, the annual pre-Lenten celebration carried out on the streets of Port of Spain with over 1 million visitors in average. The Trinidad Carnival has been recognized as a performative event of celebration and also as an artistic form of social resistance to the colonial powers of Britain, which for decades tried to brutally abolish the festivity of the colonized locals.
Men dressed in costumes for the Carnival procession on Charlotte Street in Port of Spain. As opposed to, for instance, the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the Trinidad Carnival is a participatory festive event where locals and visitors can join the procession in pre-fabricated or self-made costumes.
Carnival-goers resting before the procession on Carnival Tuesday at around 7 a.m. in the morning in Port of Spain.
Mirroring a cloudy sky. The temperature in Trinidad is usually around 90-95 F in average and the air is moist in the tropical belt. Carnival in February or March is on the border of the 6 months-long wet and dry season.
Costumed women rest at the bottom of an office building in Port of Spain on Carnival Tuesday afternoon.
In another part of the city, revelers are still in the middle of their celebration.
The procession passes through three stages erected in different parts of the city. The first one is shown on the photo below, and is located at the Queen’s Park Savannah, the largest public park in Port of Spain, bearing the English Queen’s name from the late colonial period during the 50s and 60s. On the main stage, the procession is flanked by photographers and TV cameras, at which point the revelers begin to dance vividly.
Revelers on the main stage in Queen’s Park Savannah. Young as well as middle-aged men and women equally take part
Children hide under an umbrella on the beach near St. James, Trinidad. In January, the residue of the wet season can still be felt.
Young boy bathes in the Caribbean sea at Chagwell Beech situated on the western coastline of Trinidad. In the upper left corner a detail of an oil tanker is visible. Trinidad’s western coastline faces the Pariah Bay, an interim section of the Caribbean sea between Trinidad and Venezuela where much of Trinidad’s oil drills are located. Over 80% of Trinidad and Tobago’s annual GDP relies on crude oil export.
A captive monkey grabs the hands of a fellow Trinity-student in Moruga. Monkeys are rare in Trinidad due to overhunting. Viewed as pests in many rural areas of the island, these creatures are either shot down or held captive for the rest of their lives.
A fisherman in Moruga slices fish on the top of a discarded kitchen cupboard. This small village on the southern shore of Trinidad marks the spot where Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1498 and named it after the Holy Trinity.