Queen Of The Bands: Carnival And “Monarchy” In The (416)
thesisposted on 21.12.2021, 16:03 by Chante Barnwell
Queen of the Bands: Carnival and “Monarchy” in the (416) is a solo multimedia gallery installation which explores the complexity of Queenliness through the audio and photographic documentation of four women who perform as the head female masqueraders within the complex political framework of Toronto Caribbean Carnival's 2017 King and Queen competition. The Canadian national narrative reserves Queenliness for historically dominant European figures such as the Queen of England, so what does it mean to be a woman of colour performing as a queen in a Canadian carnival celebration? The complexity of this history and the prominence of African masking traditions in carnival Mas’ making, among other cultural influences in the Caribbean, contribute to the notion of Queenliness within the framework of carnival.
The purpose of my photographic investigation is both to capture a tangible element of carnival’s relationship to Emancipation Day history in Toronto and, among other things, to examine the women’s representation and power in Afro-Caribbean communal celebrations. My additional objectives were the following: First, to evaluate how the historical framework of Emancipation Day in Ontario has shaped the current production of these celebrations in Toronto. Second, to contextualize the head female masquerader’s position within the historical framework of emancipation and carnival. Third, to determine the role carnival celebrations play in defining a racialized woman’s identity in Canadian society. Fourth, to investigate how employing documentary photography practices can shape the understanding of Emancipation Day and contextualize African Canadian history. Lastly, to investigate the effect British monarchal representation in Canada has on Queenliness when performed by women of colour.