This place is it. Where we are now we must embrace. Time, space, circumstance, whatever, understand it, and if you don’t, try. Do not transplant your past, your “home”, your preconceptions on this place. Own it. Open yourself to what it has to offer. What we have is a snapshot, it is one view of a huge world. Extrapolate, expand, but do not diminish. Humanity has a common bond and universal themes but it is the individuality that makes each instant important. We all have pasts and we must learn from them but not allow those pasts to rule our present or we run the risk of sacrificing what is for what could be. It is in honor of that fact that I began my project. I took a method I had learned in another place and time, found art, and applied it to my current project and situation. And at first that worked. But I slowly realized that I was bringing too much of my past into it and I needed to learn and absorb more from my present. The universe thought so too when the cleaning lady did her job, and in cleaning up my collected trash, also provided me with the clean slate upon which to build my project as it should be. This event coincided with an opportune conversation with Sean Leonard that meshed my project with Haben’s and forced me to pull a little more Trinidad into what I was doing. And that is how I got to the idea of Mas, after all, what is more Trini than carnival, embracing the creativity it takes to take something out of nothing, and performing with confidence and presence.
I was of course blessed with a space that by itself meant something. Trinidad as a whole has infinite faces and opportunities, interesting personalities, and great energy. But Alice Yard as an individual space is a gem. If culture is shaped by art, then Alice Yard is doing a great deal of shaping. Every type of art and artist can be found there and anything can be facilitated. A can do attitude, an open mind, and a safe space can take you far when it comes to fostering creativity and I have found Alice Yard to be an invaluable muse. Combine that with in depth readings about art in an international context and I was better able to see Alice Yard as a lens with which to view the rest of the world but still able to understand it as a oasis, a special, individual sanctuary that can only exist as a product of the environment it exists in, in the moment.
I am who I am right now. I am not the me of next year, last week, or even tomorrow. I am partially a product of fate, partially of industry, and I am only so good or bad as my actions and what comes of them. I am a person and I could be anyone but my circumstances have led me to be the me of the moment. I have to accept serendipity as a huge component of my being. That is something that I did choose to bring to the table while planning my mas. I could not control the mas in the way I would have liked if I were building it from scratch: I did not have the budget, the materials, the skill, or the man-hours to build a formal mas. However, by implementing the mas with my original plan of found art I was able to circumvent those problems simply as a result of the medium I was using.
The mas I created was a product of this place, this now. It is a result of the greatness, the energy of Alice Yard. It is the outcome of my semester in and understanding of Trinidad, and the consequence of my eye, which is in itself the product of my experiences internationally, both artistically and experientially.
By using elements such as phone cards, I was able to capture a physical component of Trinidad, which I believe has a greater meaning. The whole process of phone cards in Trinidad is symbolic of something far greater than the simple ability to call down the road. In the states I have a phone plan, I pay it monthly, I have an agreement with the phone company to be a customer and they agree to keep my service running 24/7. This involves complicated legal contracts that bind me to them for two or more years and can be slightly problematic when they don’t provide the quality of service I am expecting, But at the end of the day, my phone calls out when I need it to and I don’t really have to pay that much attention to it. Here however, I need to continuously buy phone cards, running from one to the next, discovering, as I have, late at night, that I have run through all of my minutes and still need to make calls but unable to obtain more minutes. It is such a tenuous agreement, no long term security, no cushy convenience of a once a month bill. It is momentary, living in this minute rather than the next, no future plan, simply a call, right here, right now.
It is the same concept that "liming" follows: what I am doing right here, right now, supersedes everything else in importance. It is a moment-to-moment experience, more raw and in touch but also more haphazard, pieced together. It is real, human and a key part of the Trinidad experience.
But my experience in Trinidad is more than just the “Trinidad experience”, who I am makes it what it is for me. This mas, phone cards and all, is a piece of my soul because I am in it because the me that I am no longer exists without the mas and the mas, as it is, would never exist without me.