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Give and Take drummers gather a crowdGive and Take shields sweep audience from the hallGive and Take performers leave in silencePerformed as part of Up Hill Down Hall: an indoor carnival, presented by Tate Modern, London, UK. Photos this page © Indra Khanna 2014

Give and Take
23rd August 2014   
Performance with 6 drummers and 54 performers (approx 35 minutes)
Architecture  Public Artwork

Co-commissioned by CAC New Orleans and Claire Tancons. Realised in collaboration with Batala London.

This is my personal meditation on, and experiences of, carnival in London. When I first moved to London, it was natural for me to embrace Notting Hill Carnival. I have attended and taken part through riots and all sorts of tough times, but in the mid 2000's I found residential streets blocked off by the police and a lack of freedom of movement that irritated me to the point of not going for the last seven years.

This piece is also about nostalgia, and my internal conflict with how the Notting Hill Carnival has changed since I first saw it. My performers are a London-Brazilian bateria band, reflecting the changing flavour of the carnival, which has evolved from being mainly West Indian in character to being much more Latin American. The performers embody the conflicting desires of the authorities, residents, costume bands and sound systems to access and control the space of Carnival, and more broadly all of Notting Hill. It is about an area changing and property needing to be protected from the revellers. Hence the constant threat from the authorities to move Carnival to Hyde Park, an anathema to those who know the history of it's genesis, and which would spell the death of the carnival.

The masks are a collage of mashed-up jerk chicken, tropical fruits and plastic beads. The photographs on the shields show current properties in Notting Hill, including the house where I lived in the 1980s. The performers are ambiguous characters, reflecting the complex nature of the event. They alternate between encouraging the audience to join with them in celebration or parade, and them turning on them, herding them and restricting movement around the architecture of the hall, eventually sweeping them from the space entirely. Push and pull, give and take.

Click here for link to film (7.51 minutes)

All images © Hew Locke & ArtImage unless otherwise indicated