J’ouvert Genesis Immersive Experience
Join Prospect Park Alliance, JouvayFest Collective and City Lore for the J’ouvert Genesis Immersive Experience — an exploration of the rich and colorful history of J’ouvert in Trinidad & Tobago and its important role in Brooklyn today. J’ouvert (pronounced jou-vay) translates to “opening of the day or I open” in French and marks the beginning of the official two days of Carnival before Ash Wednesday in the Francophone Atlantic. The exhibit explains the often-misunderstood aspects of J’ouvert so that audiences may better understand this essential cultural tradition.
This fun and cultural inaugural exhibit at the newly reopened Lefferts Historic House immerses visitors in a curated experience through various artwork, including life-sized traditional J’ouvert character costumes and signature percussive instruments. The exhibit also features large-format photography of traditional Mas (masquerade) Carnival costumes and celebrations by artist Jason C. Audain, and digital media works produced by filmmakers Mario T. Lathan and DeAndre Vidale. Workshops and discussions on the food, dance and music of the classic Trinidad & Tobago style of J’ouvert will accompany the exhibit.
Formerly enslaved Africans in predominantly French-speaking Caribbean colonies created J’ouvert as part of their bitter battles with the authorities to participate in the pre-Lenten festivities of the ruling class. The tradition was made official in Trinidad & Tobago in 1881 when communities fought for their freedom during the famous Canboulay/Kambule’ (burnt-cane in French) riots, when they burnt valuable sugarcane fields to protest British attempts to suppress their way of life. This struggle secured the J’ouvert celebration from colonial interference. J’ouvert has flourished into a potent living tradition and symbol of the power of resistance and resilience in the Caribbean, Brooklyn and beyond.
J’ouvert Genesis Immersive Experience is part of ReImagine Lefferts, the Prospect Park Alliance initiative to re-envision the mission and programming at Lefferts Historic House to focus its interpretation and programming on exploring the lives, resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. During exhibit hours, the Alliance will welcome visitors of all ages to share their ideas and contribute to future programming through fun and interactive activities with staff and cultural partners.