Marlon Griffith (1976, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) started his artistic practice as a Carnival designer—a “mas’ man,” as Trinidadians would call him. This background deeply shapes his work as a contemporary visual artist, which has performative, participatory, and ephemeral characteristics that derive from Carnival. Griffith’s work is based upon a reciprocal dialogue between ‘Mas’ (the artistic component of the Trinidad Carnival) and art as a means of investigating the phenomenological aspect of the embodied experience: it is situated at the intersection of the visual and public performance. Experimenting with fundamental questions in perception, Griffith’s work interrogates contemporary culture outside the traditional pitfalls of representation. Operating outside the context of Mas’ Griffith performative actions are stripped down to their basic form and abstracted to create new images and narratives that respond critically and poetically to our socio-cultural environment.
Griffith has been an artist in residence at Bag Factory / Fordsburg Artists Studios in Johannesburg (2004); Mino Paper Art Village in Japan (2005); Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts, Kingston, Jamaica (2007); and Popop Studios, Nassau, The Bahamas (2010-11); and Art Omi, Ghent, New York (2011). He has shown extensively in North America in Toronto (South-South: Interruptions & Encounters, 2009); Miami (Global Caribbean, 2010); Washington (Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions, Art Museum of the Americas, 2011); Champaign (Krannert Art Museum, 2011) and other locations and internationally in Gwangju (7th Gwanju Biennale, 2008) and Cape Town (CAPE09, 2009) and MANIFESTA 9 Parallel Projects 2012, Hasselt, Belgium.
In 2010, Marlon was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and of a Commonwealth Award. He has been residing and working in Nagoya, Japan since 2009.