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"Midnight Robbers" Opens at AMUM July 17 University News
For release: July 6, 2010

For press information, contact Lisa Francisco Abitz, 901-678-2224

“Midnight Robbers: The Artists of Notting Hill Carnival” will be on display at the Art Museum of the University of Memphis (AMUM) July 17 through Sept. 11.

The groundbreaking exhibition, which explores the historic context of the London Carnival and the carnival as an art form, premiered in England at London City Hall in 2007. Revealing the power and artistry of Europe’s largest and most spectacular street performance, the London exhibition marked the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade.

Bringing the exhibition to the Art Museum demonstrates the University’s commitment to African art, which includes AMUM’s new permanent exhibition with works from the Martha and Robert Fogelman collection and a new M.A. concentration in the Department of Art, Arts of Africa and the African Diaspora.

The Midnight Robber, a much beloved character of traditional Caribbean masquerade, strides through the streets in his sweeping, skull-encrusted black cape and fringed, broad-brimmed hat, halting passersby with long accounts of his dramatic birth and heroic transgressions. Today this character is reworked into contemporary stories as a larger-than-life character from colonial history or current politics, epitomizing the “master” performance of carnival. The exhibition adopts the Midnight Robber motif for its title, seeking, like the robber himself, to provoke and engage audiences.

Midnight Robbers: The Artists of Notting Hill Carnival features filmed interviews with carnival artists, a life-size projection of carnival on the street, a series of timeline banners on carnival history, photographs, and Carnival Interactive, a multimedia computer program that invites the viewer to step into the street and participate in carnival.

Co-curators Lesley Ferris, arts and humanities distinguished professor in theatre at Ohio State University, and Adela Ruth Tompsett, principal lecturer in drama and performing arts at Middlesex University in England, will be in Memphis for a lecture on Sept. 9 and a closing event and reception on Sept. 10.

Admission is free. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The exhibition is planned and organized by the Carnival Exhibition Group with support from Arts Council England and City Hall (Mayor of London), Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council and Ohio State University.

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