Trinidad J’ouvert 2010,

Artist Adele Todd public performance at Trinidad’s j’ouvert 2010 in her work, “What caused the End of the World”

This year I chose to go further into mas not seen much anymore. To understand how to portray ‘the box’ I spoke with Pearl Gomez-James on her memories. She was extremely insightful, and with a few alterations…no live cat for example… I pressed on with the creation of my performance.

It is an essential part of the portrayal to include the text, “What caused the destruction of man?” This gets the audience to become curious to look inside the box that is being held aloft.

A man looking inside the box which caused the End of the World

Indeed I was more than pleasantly surprised that again people interacted with my costume in many ways. Some people assumed that they already had the answer and told me. For example, some people blurted out that woman was the cause or man was the cause of destruction. Others said that they were afraid and uncertain about peering into the box, and others still, were eager to see what the experience was as soon as they read the sign. I was honestly oblivious to ‘the box’ as sexual reference until I was approached by men who snickered and laughed aloud at the sign and the box itself.Unlike last year, this portrayal encouraged more familiarity with my person and I had to be quite firm to say no thank you, when someone wanted to push up on me. But fortunately this was not often.

A j’ouvert rotund

The Groovy Soca Monarch for 2010 is Sherwayne Winchester, and he won with a song called Murder. For his presentation, he had women dressed in negligees and one very rotund woman, who moved very well. The whole thing unravels taste wise very rapidly, ending with the woman jumping on him and killing him.

The choice of black was to create a neutral palette from which to bounce off the box concept. Harking back to the monolith from 2001 A space odyssey, the box had to be the focal point. Overall, again I was very pleased with the response this year to this work. – Adele Todd


January 10, 2010

Untitled colour thread  on linen

Watch Meh

December 27, 2009

The dimensional embroidery, termed by  me are actually local phrases made from thread wrapped around wire and wadding. Adele Todd’s dimensional embroidery, “DEM DOES MACO MEH TOO, DEM HEAD SPINNING, JEALOUSING, DEM CONFUSE ?”

I looked at the idea of our local slang words and their playful meaning in these works that I have coined as ‘dimensional embroidery.’ I use this name because my objective is to play with thread in a way where the material can come alive through continuous wrappings. These works are made with wire, wadding and miles and miles of threads.

Adele Todd at Trinidad and Tobago’s J’ouvert in 2009

Since the year 1999, I have been observing ways to make ‘Art’ at carnival time that breaks the boundaries of ‘mas.’ To me, carnival is a gigantic, uncharted territory of creative possibilities. In 2008, I decided that the ‘old mas’ character of Dame Lorraine should be revised. The Dame Lorraine was played by men in our carnival history. Men literally made fun of female frailties. Yet, today, women play the character. This was both puzzling and challenging to me.

Why would women parody themselves? Men are not doing this?  This led to the concept of looking in on the male from a female perspective.  I had always enjoyed the works of Aubrey Beardsley, and instantly the idea to ‘Perform’ one of his sexually charged works lept up at me.

No woman in our carnival history had attempted to ‘wear’ a phallic piece, in all this time. Surely, we enjoy making light of our politics with the satire of the ‘Bomb competition’ during the wee hours of Lunde Gras.  We wear the prosthetic breasts and bottoms, and men have extended the penis in play. But in all of the good fun, feminine imagery is blown up to an extreme of bikini mas. When women ‘play themselves’ they too seem to miss the irony of it all.

So, amidst the good fun, I chose to cut a path with my attire, and the response was beyond my wildest expectations. Men were stunned and women giggled. No one passed me by without comment, and more often than not, the comments were close to me, for my ears alone. Pictures abounded, flashbulbs went off in abundance and people wanted to pose with me at every step.

The approach from men was extremely revealing. Men commented from the funny to the delicately explicit. But always with a curiosity and respect.  “May I, can I…” The brave asked to touch, and it came from both sexes.

The combination of the obviously feminine wearer, nicely draped, and then the Bourroquite-like protrusion of the penis, gave rise (pun intended) to a bobbing and weaving of my presentation. However it was not mistaken for anything but what it was.

Examination of the Herald by Aubrey Beardsley

A Performance using embroidered fabric, sculpted foam form, upturned (hat)basket and feather. Duration of Performance – about five hours. From The Foreshore Freeway to Downtown Port-of-Spain

Sensing violence – HIT

December 26, 2009

Embroidery on felt, Hit Adele Todd, 2000

The Trinidadian artist Adele Todd has allowed Feinin to interpret her work. Here is one of her felt pieces which represent the many ways people are punished in the Caribbean. A ruler and hot iron, a slipper, a rolling pin, a belt or worse yet a cutlass….whatever you have at the time of the confrontation. I like using written words.

Embroidery, Adele Todd explains, is her art, or in other words her paint brush where she outlines and decorates the silhouettes . The woman running is screaming, she is also wearing a lovely polka dot dress stitched in red. “Domestic life does not prepare one for violence” says the Artist.

Hit by Feinin, 2009

Can art possess an inner power, can it do things which we have no control? In the process of documenting a detail of the silhouette, as I moved the ladder to the side, it tipped over and smashed directly into the center of my history, breaking apart my father’s only plate and my Great Grand parents’ china tea cup and saucer.

HIT Family heirlooms “May shatter on impact”. Made in Trinidad and Tobago

My grandparents plate at Adele Todd’s Hit exhibition at the National Museum of Trinidad and Tobago in 2000

The places That Scare Me

December 26, 2009

Writing on the wall, embroidery

What is this life. Embroidery 2008

The Places that Scare Me

Performance brings out for me many hidden or difficult emotions. It is a liberator, and this is why I use it so often in my process as an artist. The Places that Scare me, gave me an opportunity to literally clean out the cobwebs of  personal hurts.
I also wondered, what if thread could work as Performance. I had been doing other texts with thick wadding. Words of power and in 2009, I worked with words a great deal. Words seemed to satisfy my range. It’s literal presence and the color choices as well as the thickness or thinness of the threads assisted in the meanings behind what could be read.

For example, you see and read on the head, “I deserve better.” When read, it becomes ‘your’ thought too.Each group of words was placed on the body, thus giving the look of a perminant marking, as well as an embroidery of beautiful markings. But being thread, it could easily blow away, disassemble, and so break the illusion that what the words represented was all that there was.

So in the end, by confronting “The places that Scare me” I put a light into the darkness and revealed strength.

Patrimony 2008

December 25, 2009

Trinidad and Tobago’s Coat Of Arms assembled from thread and wire ~ a dimensional embroidered drawing.
Size:3 1/4’x 2 3/4′

This body of work took its focus from my concerns about governance. I had done work on domestic violence and violence in boys as they grow to adulthood. Yet my thoughts began to focus on the question,what about the emotional violence that is heaped on society when leaders go astray? That question led to this installation called,Patrimony.

Our prime minister’s name is Patrick Manning, and of late, many people have subverted the name to “Patrick Money.”

Ours is a country of great wealth. Apart from oil and gas, we are bountiful in many ways. We can grow sugar cane, cocoa, coffee. We are capable of so much, and yet, so many people in the country have terrible water problems, issues for good, affordable housing and other basic needs.

For everyone who flashes their Porshe or House and LandRover, there is a person waiting for a red band maxi.

The Coat of Arms related to Trinidad and Tobago as a very strong symbol, and I had been working with it for several years.
As a formally colonial island (independent in 1962)I wanted to look at this symbol of our nations aspirations and ask, where are we going? The threads in red resonated the dominant color of our nations’ flag. It also had a blood-like quality in its thin staitions that fell from the wire.

As the piece was installed, there was an unexpected moment of silence. We were quite spooked by the solemn nature of the work as it silently spun in space. We eventually broke our collective silence by talking about what we observed,and were surprised to learn that we found the piece extremely sad. Yet within that sadness, also sprang hope.

Adele Todd at the Space in 2008, Trinidad