Arrayanos

Photo by Charo Oquet
Photo by Charo Oquet

Arrayanos draws on artist Charo Oquet’s Dominican heritage and decades-long process of combining visual art and social practice. Arrayanos takes its form from the Gaga carnival tradition, updating it with live media. Gaga came to the Dominican Republic from Haiti, where it was known as Rara. (The Second Line/Carnival Indian traditions in New Orleans come from the same roots.) While traveling in the Caribbean in 1996, Oquet learned about Gaga in the sugar cane plantation towns, or bateyes. She was astonished to discover Haitian and Dominican culture that wasn’t colliding at national borders. After participating in the Gaga ritual, Oquet learned how a few simple resources could transform a room into an installation, forever changing and empowering her artistic practice. Since 1996, Oquet has embraced the Gaga practice, learning its dances, music, and costume design, and commissioning a scholarly work on its archetypes by anthropologist Soraya Aracena. Arrayanos is the culmination of this research, and its total integration into Oquet’s art.

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