Lectures, lecture performance, conversations, screening


With Stefano Harney, Leora Maltz-Leca, Peter Minshall, Ronald Rose-Antoinette and others

Fri, Dec 2, 2022
4–9 pm
Free admission

In English

Updates and program information:
HKW Newsletter

Mariana Castillo Deball, Coatlicue, 2010, courtesy the artist

What if Sylvia Wynter's Ceremony was an actual ceremony? The program Ceremonies brings the ceremony back in Wynter's Ceremony or, rather, continues to look for it. It gives an introduction to Wynter's Caribbean inspiration throughout her œuvre and to Junkanoo, the folk traditions of her parent's native Jamaica, extending to the region's overall carnivalesque sensibility. Caribbean carnivals and African-diasporic musical traditions run wide and wild with Le Mardi Gras Listening Collective's lecture performance while the contemporary ramifications of the millennial-old genre of processional performance are addressed in the works of William Kentridge and Peter Minshall. Ultimately, might Wynter's Ceremony be a score for the ceremony to come and, as such, encompass all ceremonies?

4 pm
Welcome & Introduction
Claire Tancons

4.15 pm
Sylvia Wynter’s Caribbean Ceremony
Aaron Kamugisha

Sylvia Wynter’s essays The Ceremony Must Be Found and The Ceremony Found constitute a rare event – the return, twenty-five years later, of a great theorist to an essay that announced a signal moment in her theoretical work. In my paper, I argue that it is impossible to comprehend either The Ceremony Must Be Found and The Ceremony Found essays or Wynter’s work prior to and between them without appreciating her profound, constant entanglement with the Caribbean’s unique experience of coloniality and its intellectual tradition.The Ceremony Must be Found represents a distinctively new moment, but not radical departure from the past, and the key to comprehending this is a little remarked sojourn by Wynter in the early 1980s Caribbean.

Caribbean Carnivalesque: Contrasting Currents of Continuity and Creative Resistance
John Cowley

Seasonal rhythms (including Christmas and Carnival) were subconsciously disrupted by the Christian “reformation” that portended “modernity”. Grounded in experience, peoples of African descent in the Antilles were well aware of international events and anxieties of the plantocracy. Nineteenth-century festive personifications point up alternative relationships with the decaying “outside” world.

Conversation with Aaron Kamugisha, and John Cowley, moderated by Claire Tancons

6 pm
Lecture Performance
Recess and Precess
Stefano Harney, Ronald Rose-Antoinette

The estuary is our dancehall. Tides we are ridden by undo the arrival. We recess in the music of our country, of Wynter’s grounding, which is also Grace Jones’ provision, is Chronixx’ dread nation, is our scream, is nobody’s and everybody’s demeure, somewhere else's ancient layer and prayer. Our procession is our precession. When we chip, our celestial midsections shift the rhythm, melt the road. When we dingolay along the equinox, we move the earth off the axis of the world. The world recalculates and renames its Babylonian measures, but our precession recesses in the flesh veering Westward. Every step back is out of order/orbit is a jump up in our band. Le Mardi Gras Listening Collective is playing right now in the Black Ark, at Despers yard on Tragarete Road, and in the dust near you.

7.30 pm
Ceremonial Metaphorics & Democratic Process on the Tip of Africa
Leora Maltz-Leca

What role can metaphor play in decolonization and regime change? Leora Maltz-Leca draws on Sylvia Wynter’s writing to affirm the strategic potential of metaphor, especially in South Africa, where a spate of mass public processions in the early 1990s enacted ceremonies of urban repossession and democratic agency. By considering William Kentridge’s drawn, sculpted and filmed processions of this period as entanglements of somatic experience and the figured body, she proposes that in processions and their representations the “real” and the “metaphoric” converge in slippery ways, much as the performativity of actual politics enables “mere” metaphorics – like the ceremony – to claim political agency, and occasionally, to impact democratic process.

Conversation with Leora Maltz-Leca and Claire Tancons

8 pm
Video Screening
The Adoration of Hiroshima
Peter Minshall

“Not in front of the children!”: Masking Trauma in Minshall’s Mas
Peter Minshall (via video) and Claire Tancons

“Madame Hiroshima is a great flaming cunt!” wrote Peter Minshall on a sketch for the costume of the same name, Madame Hiroshima, the centerpiece of his 1984 mas band, Callaloo. How can an artist dare depict such a traumatic event as the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima in Las Vegas Cabaret style for a Carnival parade in the Caribbean island of Trinidad? And how do the People give him, and give themselves, permission to enact in turn such a horrific representation while merry-making? In this discussion Peter Minshall elaborates on his vision from Madame Hiroshima to The Adoration of Hiroshima, from the Trinidad carnival to the Washington Mall where it landed in 1985 for the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, while Claire Tancons ponders questions such a processional performance poses within the workings of the ceremonial.