Several years ago, while walking home from a Little Caesars in southwest Miami, I came across a headless chicken, drained of its blood and abandoned in the middle of the street. I later learned that the bird was sacrificed in a Santeria ritual (its placement in the intersection was a suburban approximation of the crossroads: the portal between worlds). The encounter provided further evidence of something I learned the moment I moved to the country’s largest Caribbean city—and kept learning until I left. The tropics will reveal themselves to you, but without warning or explanation.
This was on my mind last month when I visited another Caribbean capital, New Orleans, to make sense of another street scene. Four years in the making, EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean, an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center, presents Carnival—dance, music, costuming; all of the inhaled and exhaled culture of the Caribbean and its leaky diaspora—in the context of contemporary art.