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Carnival Dreamers and Makers between the covers

Saturday, May 5, 2018

People like peas grain is the only way to describe the launch of renowned photographer Maria Nunes’ first book, In A World of Their Own: Carnival Dreamers and Makers. A crowd the size of which is not seen normally seen at the Big Black Box outside of a Carnival fete turned out to pay tribute to the woman who has spent years documenting the making and performance of the Greatest Show on Earth.

The evidence of her work and the regard in which she is held was seen in the sheer numbers of Carnival artisans who were present, including Moko Jumbies, pan sides, Fancy Sailors, Erzulie the La Diablesse, drummers, blue devils, Black Indians and other traditional masqueraders.

Nunes paid special tribute to 90-year-old Narrie Approo, Black Indian Mas master, who she described as one of her heroes. Executive Director of major sponsor Republic Bank, Derwin Howell, lauded Nunes for her devotion throughout her career to the study and photography of the groups and individuals behind the creation and portrayal of traditional Mass.

“To hear Maria talk about her work is to travel along the journey of someone who understands the various elements and influences of work in each scene and in each shot and yet maintains a deep curiosity about the individual behind the mask whether it be an artist, craftsman or masquerader.

“And Maria spoke about that personal connection that she has to a lot of her subjects.

What comes out of it all is more than just a beautiful photograph but an image that draws connections between audience, photographer and subject, while communicating the full intensity and complexity of our culture and history.”

He said Nunes’ work showed that she had an in-depth understanding of not only the technical mand aesthetic elements of photography but also the academic and the historical aspects of the subjects she seeks to capture.

He hoped that the book would inspire others to celebrate and document what makes us unique as a people and as a country.

“In a cultural environment like ours that is constantly growing, changing and evolving under the influence of new and emerging ideas, this book plays a very important role in the preservation and promotion of our traditional art forms, which often do not receive the respect and attention they deserve.

“Creating physical records of the formative elements of our cultural heritage, like traditional Mas, helps to build a shared cultural memory that is more permanent and more likely to live on after the moment has passed or after the art form has changed.

“It also makes it easier to share our culture with others and promote a deeper understanding and appreciation among our younger generations in particular who bear the responsibility of sustaining traditional Mass after we are all gone.”

Nunes said the book was her ode to Carnival and the people who dream and make Carnival.

“This book celebrates you, you are the torch bearers, the Guardians of our rich Carnival heritage.

“You are living embodiments of central truths of History that must never be forgotten.”

Nunes said there is currently an ongoing debate and concern about the state of creativity in Carnival and, “I hope that this book will contribute to the conversations we have about ourselves and the value or lack thereof that we place on the wealth of our heritage.

The tradition-based elements of Carnival landscape featured in this book are largely at the margins of our Carnival today.

“It is my hope that a journey through these pages will be an invitation to reflect on the beauty of who we are in this complex place we share together, to look and listen a bit deeper, to see the dreamers and the makers recorded here as a source of inspiration and direction for the future of our Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago.”

In A World of Their Own:

Carnival Dreamers and Makers costs $300 and is available from Robert and Christopher Publishers. Call 222-0913 or go to their website at

They will also be available at an artist talk between Nunes and essayist Shivanee Ramlocan headlined an artist talk at Grundlos Kollektiv, 11 Cipriani Boulevard, Port-of-Spain.


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