Carnival Land: An Creative Consideration of Sequential Storytelling to Discuss Cultural Dislocation

Tavares, Tatiana
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School of Art and Design, AUT

This presentation will outline the practice-led research project Carnival Land, a picture book that weaves together sequential storytelling and illustration to discuss cultural dislocation. Based on my experiences as an immigrant from Brazil to New Zealand, it provides a narrative in metaphors and a creative orchestration of photomontage, bilinguality, and theatricised multi-page spreads. The story tells of the trials and eventual transformation of a young girl in a foreign land, where aspirations appear as costumes in an annual Carnival parade. Several theoretical frameworks significantly influenced Carnival Land. These were notions of transgression, carnality, and Carnival (Bakhtin, 1968); structure and discourse surrounding bricolage (Strauss, 1962); and writings relating to journey both as a rite of passage (Gennep, 1960; Turner, 1979); and as a process of immigration. Carnival has served as a primary metaphor, underpinning both the story and conceptual aspects of the work. Traditionally, people in Carnival parades participate in a symbolic ritual of identity change and re-negotiation of social and cultural contexts. They do this by assuming (in costume and behaviour) an alternative self. This transformative aspect of Carnival may be seen as a form of symbolical reversal, a brief moment of liminality that allows people to imagine new meanings and values in a ritual of performance. It is through this process that the performative nature of Carnival becomes a transformative process of being. The carnal (bodily) nature of Carnival enables specific linkages between the transformation of the self and the nature of immigration as a transitional physical/social/personal experience. Methodologically, the project emanates from an artistic research paradigm (Klein, 2010) that supports a heuristic approach (Douglass and Moustakas, 1985) to the discovery and refinement of ideas. The project employed autoethnography as a research design intended to facilitate the strategic accessing of personal experience and synthesised it into a fictional work. Thus, the research draws upon both tacit and explicit knowledge in developing the narrative, its structure, and stylistic treatments.

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