Experience the delirious, eye-popping kaleidoscope that is Mardi Gras — a visually intoxicating celebration and the official art form of New Orleans. Images and videos capturing everything from the magnificence of Mardi Gras Indian regalia and the boisterous revelry of offbeat marching groups to the pageantry of float parades and the feeding frenzy for throws.
A bounteous visual feast demanding humility
For shutterbugs drawn to eyeball kicks in the zone between fantasy and reality, Carnival is the motherlode that never stops giving. The celebration is so multi-faceted and diffuse, and the panorama of its bounty so immense, that it can take years to glimpse first-hand the full panoply of the rituals and activities on offer. As a citywide extravaganza that can be experienced on many different levels, it’s not so much an “event” as a cultural phenomenon that is expressed through a range of art forms and a dizzying amalgamation of happenings and habits.
Indeed, media images of rowdy exuberance and Bourbon Street excess don’t even begin to capture the true spirit of the occasion, let alone its scope. But despite this fixation on its bawdier aspects, the festivities that culminate on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) are still in many ways a family affair — a picnic-style celebration where people reconnect with friends and loved ones and share in a civic ritual with innumerable facets and traditions.
At the same time, we’re talking about a notoriously hungry beast — encompassing the sacred and the profane, and voraciously devouring morsels of culture high and low. In this topsy-turvy realm, satire, political incorrectness and racy fantasies are gleefully, and sometimes obsessively, dramatized. There’s simply no telling the myriad ways in which symbols, idols and topics in the news become feedstock for costuming and commemoration.
From a documentary standpoint, because the complete picture is elusive and always in flux, one is almost obligated to approach Carnival with great humility. At best, even the most dogged photographer or videographer can only hope to assemble a mosaic. The imagery offered here is a collaborative effort, gathered by a group of contributors who feel a compulsion to document what makes New Orleans special and share their love of the city and its beguiling idiosyncrasies with anyone willing to play the slightest attention.
It’s Carnival Time in New Orleans!
Please bear with us as we work through a backlog of thousands of images, taken over an extended period, for publication on our new platform, MardiGrasTraditions.com. In terms of content and presentation methodology, we aspire to make Eye Candy an experience worthy of its name. For Mardi Gras 2014, we’ll be posting our fabulous, original photos on our Facebook page. We have four awesome photographers, covering a lot of Mardi Gras ground. So, be sure to check it out!