Transcommunality by Laura Anderson Barbata

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger


Laura Anderson Barbata, a visual artist based in New York and Mexico City, began her interactions with stiltwalking communities in Cocorite, Trinidad, at the ‘Dragon’ Keylemanjahro School of Art & Culture. There, she witnessed children and teenagers being inculcated in the practice and art of the Moko Jumbie repertoire. Barbata’s creative engagements with groups of stiltwalkers took her to New York (The Brooklyn Jumbies) and Oaxaca (Los Zancudos de Zaachila) as well. Transcommunality, a visually arresting, monographic treatment, published by Turner Books in 2012, represents Barbata’s numerous years of collaboration with these three linked, yet markedly disparate performance collectives.

The compendium is clothbound and replete with high-definition imagery from photographers such as Stefan Falke (Moko Jumbies, 2004); Frank Veronsky (whose image is featured on the cover art) and Stefan Hagen (photographer for several Bloomsbury USA children’s titles), among others. Through this captivating presentation, Barbata’s pronouncements on the public spectacle of performance art emerge: here are treasures to be unearthed on the power of indigenous modes of revelry, meeting a fusion of sociocultural mores, creating stiltwalking installations that are dynamic, spellbinding, utterly new.

Transcommunality explores the power of ritual and the significance of costuming in bold, visionary strokes, melding both imagery and critical analysis, including a conversation with the artist that explores the impetus and evolution of the work she has created with, alongside and for these stiltwalking societies.