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Naked Big Fish, Sokari Douglas Camp, UK, 1998 WA508365 

Kalabari Masquerade 

Naked Big Fish is a sculpture in steel and wood by contemporary British artist Sokari Douglas Camp, It represents the spectacular masking tradition of the Kalabari people of the Niger Delta region in West Africa. This is a contemporary masking tradition with old roots, which plays itself out on the streets of Kalabari towns and villages. The hidden performers represent water spirits, historical and mythological beings. The cycle of performances lasts twenty years.


Naked Big Fish explores the power of transformation through the Kalabari masquerade, in which young men turn themselves into gods through their costumes, headdresses and performances. The sculpture reveals a young man in the process of dressing. Instead of emphasising the god, the sculptor concentrates on the physical changes brought about by the mask, the padding and the false pregnant belly.


Naked Big Fish is about masquerade performance, about the process of dressing and transforming into a deity. It is also about the process of undressing, unmasking.

 

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