IN THE SPIRITAn Exhibition of Caribbean ArtistsTirzo Martha Antonius Roberts Glenn Roopchand GA Gardner Angelica Barrow Clayton Rhule Genevieve Lahens Nikolai Noel Marielle Barrow Andrae Green Beatrice Mellinger Marie-Denise DouyonJune 6th at 6:30 pm Inter American Development Bank Staff Gallery 1300 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DCThe Allspice Festival of Arts & Humanities
PROGRAM Welcome Dr. Claire NelsonICS & Allspice Mr. Michael Nelson-Director IDB Staff Association Feature Speaker Mr. James Early Antonius Roberts-Director Public Policy Smithsonian Center for Heritage & Folk Life Gallery T alk Curators; Marielle Barrow Mahsa Javid Refreshments
In the Spiritin whose spiritin what spirit? Where does spirit dwell? In the Spirit In changing our narrative from romance to that of tragedy In adapting our questions to our present reality In the Spirit Recognize our blindness and address it Transgression and transition constantly happen in our present space Constant transgression and transition are necessary so that we can address contemporary blindnessCONTEMPORAR Y QUESTIONSMarielle Barrow
This exhibition seeks to present Caribbeanness as a sensibility that extends itself within and between spaces. As Caribbeans we inhabit a continuum of spaces, identify ourselves by transgress boundaries and are often in transit. The ideas of transgression and transition taken together suggest a process of unravelling within the continuum of spaces that we inhabit. Through methodical experimentation, artists attempt to unravel the knots of our past in the contemporary moment. In so doing they are compelled to confront the condemning circumstances of our material history that persists, transposed on the modern moment. Material circumstances of the past and present our contemporary reality. In the Spirit invokes the questions: Whose spirit? What spirit? How and where does that spirit dwell? A Caribbean, CaribbeanAmerican voice emerges through a process of internalization or introspection that causes and co-exsists with externalization, a compulsion to look outward. The movement of looking and simultaneously inhabiting space from inside to outside along a title of Caribbean scholar and artist Rex Nettlefords text- Inward Stretch, Outward Reach. The voices of the artists in this exhibition encourage us to look deeper into ourselves to facilitate an inward reaching rather than simply reaching outward to the spirit of another. In the Spirit strives to be a space where intra-Caribbean expressions that are not insulated (James Early) are made accessible. The exhibition is in celebration of Caribbean-American Heritage Month with a thematic emphasis, which resonates with the commemoration of 2011 as the United Nations year of African Descendent. It is at the same time commemoration and working
through of our Africanness and Caribbeanness: always in a process of transgression, transition and transformation. The exhibition proceeds through a perhaps counter-intuitive logic, an ad hoc arrangement of works the themes used as narrative structure in Gordon Rohlehrs anthology Transgression, Transition, Transformation, but these modes are part and parcel of all the works rather than a linear narrative along which they progress. The pieces are informed by these processes of transgression, transition and transformation as motivation, and are informed by them (these processes) as content. Rohlehr uses transgression in the sense of crossing over into forbidden territory, penetrating barriers (Rohlehr vii). He which says that New World History has been a history of transgression; of the crossing over of people into each others ethnic spaces. The Caribbean as New World is overlapping spaces, ethnicities and traumas (Rohlehr 489). Transgression then, rather than housing the single valence of negativity or positivity in this context is rather like the contradictory forces of Caribbean history and identity of which Fanon speaks, a polyvalent dynamic. Transgression within In the Spirit, references the antagonisms of the colonial ethic-historic and current while celebrating the transgression of Caribbean peoplestheir boldness in breaking down boundaries and crossing over to new spaces, new knowledge. It celebrates their daring spirits in confronting the forces that have transgressed their own shores. The lack of a teleological narrative structure is predicated on the argument articulated by David Scott CounterIntuitive Narrative
in his recent text Conscripts of Modernity. In an interview discussing the text, Scott reveals that it expands on his He suggests not that we give better answers to the old questions, but the questions themselves are no longer relevant. ( Scott argues that our questions are contingent upon their relationship to the historical past and that this relationship needs to be differently narrated in order to draw attention to different aspectsstruggle rather than freedom. The rhetorical structure of emancipation narratives is problematic and each class has a particular relationship to this narrative, which is no longer productive of any good. The current narrative is certainly not wrong but rather unproductive for our current conjuncture. Scott maps out the romantic narrative of history, stating that the narrative has a teleological impetus that tends toward totalization. He then offers the possibility of a new direction through tragedy, through a reorientation of politics and distinctions between good and evil are obfuscated and reading of Antigone). Because tragedy is not guaranteed by a progressive dialectical resolution it is more willing to recognize the frailty of will and the dark underside of mastery, the reversibility of all achievement (3). The focus a complex of questions and answersor better, a complex of statements, propositions, resolutions and arguments offered in answer to largely implicit questions or problems (4). How does one locate oneself within or between spaces as esteemed artist and curator Christopher Cozier attempts to do? within the current conjuncture, the sense of temporality, contemporary are shifted. Contemporary becomes somewhat disputed as the past continues to be replicated The usual sense of temporality the term contemporary are potentially shifted when used in conjunction with tragedy.
in the present. In essence, contemporary is a contested term as historical relations of power are not yet past. Thus for the Caribbean, contemporary signals tragedy, a space for the arresting of time and renegotiation of historical relationships to the present. At the same time, the term contemporary in a Caribbean context calls for a re-institution of transgression as a mode of action for the Caribbean person. Contemporary in association with tragedy, adduces ideas of transgression. The artists in this show reveal the perpetuation of the past into the present. At the same time, in various ways, their works transgress boundaries of representation in the present and in so doing allow our transitioning to a new thought-space which we hope can be transposed to the material reality of a larger public. What kind of new questions do these works help us to ask or do the works provide answers to questions asked by the artists? What is the form of the current struggle or what form could it take? Stuart Hall, in his article New Ethnicities, notes the incremental nature of change and its effects or form. Change requires displacement, reorganization and repositioning of cultural strategies. He discredits binary language of oppositions to describe the shift. Shift is best described as a struggle over the relations of representation to a politics of representation in itself (165). What resources and capital have we accrued from the struggles of our past that we neglect in our present? How do we struggle over the relations of representation? The narrative of this exhibition is one of struggle over contracts and one of recognition. It suggests dual temporalities, allowing vision through the recognition of masks. It asks the question, why do we condemn ourselves by allowing others to continue in their condemnation of us? The images impel this question through myriad means, but all through the recognition of who and where we are in the current conjuncture.
Roberts continually speaks from the standpoint of heritage to an impulse of preservation. Working mostly with discarded materials, his through grooved markings. The strength of mask-like visages and rhythmic slits are juxtaposed with the sensual contours of the lower body and the smoothness of the wood. While With Out Wings hearkens to the images of an enslaved past, it speaks of current enslavement where condemnation of our heritage and blackness is central to the tenets of development. Notions of progress allow for the discarding of the very trees (of which this is one), that are the lifeblood and contain the stories of the past. This is one of the practices of development/ progress that determines our current existence and our future. As a Bahamian, With Out Wings begs us to question not simply development but our ANTONIUS ROBERTSWith Out Wings You interpret what you see. Each piece should be surveyed based on your experience and what you bring to the work... All of us need to use whatever talents and/or resources that we have to deal with the concerns that are prevalent in our society today. Most of my exhibits are about making a social statement,
The juxtaposition of smooth contours and grooved markings elite white while wearing his black mask. It resonates with the double consciousness spoken of by Dubois and the issues of Black Skin, White Mask by Fanon. The form of our cultural authenticity through development and the cutting off in which we must engage, the elimination of the current, popular notion of progress.
A constant of ghostliness pervades these images in a tone of warning rather than an invocation of trepidation. Their haunting is through an alternating blindness, dumbness and deafness, imaged through erasure of features. The deconstructed self is presented as self with multiple facets, multiple possibilities for succumbing to an ambiguous reality, rather than a fractured or incapacitated being. The translucence of features, strangely suggests blindness, self-denial, and introspection. In Untitled I the dizzying shifting and displacement of self is like a double existence, a self emerging and submerging causing an inner turmoil, insecurity and narrowing of strength and foundation in the tapering of the neck upon which this triple image is precariously bobbing. The multiple facets of this self are Roberts work, the drawings seem to suggest a process of masking and unmasking that can be likened to processes at work within the making of Fanons Black Skin White Masks.ANDRAE GREEN Untitled I. II, III Moments of ambiguity, ghostliness and double-vision are often found-searching for the
Golden Steel plays with the idea of replication through the myriad images and facets of the pan. The pan and the spherical iconography begun in Douyons Cycle, Recuperation. Golden Steel structures a formidable architecture of the Caribbean self through ellipses which enclose almost corporeal, cavorting yet somewhat tumultuous movements of light and earthly shadows. The forms of the seemingly larger than life instruments his limbs emerge from, the steel pan. Barrow presents a Caribbean identity as intricately linked, even growing out of the only instrument created in the 21st century that has graced the world stage. It signals a historical steppingwe formulate through transgression toward transition and transformation. The pan is both a beginning and means to an end. The celebratory impetus and spherical mode of Golden Steel reverberate with the content, and Golden SteelANGELICA BARROW The steel pan emerges naturally as an apt symbol of selfof nakedness, dispossession, disintegration and the strength of human passion and determination.
sentimental tone of Roopchands works. Prendre le Depart Mellingers work is built on a framework of fragmented images and text sutured by deeply textured, frenzied rhythms of colour. space. Inner turmoil parallels the challenge of the physical process that circumscribes departure when Haitians are compelled to of the Haitian dilemma but references the global effects of civil war, famine, genocides and myriad other circumstances that plague our world. Sunset III is deeply poetic in its simplicity. Paralleled only to Prendre le Depart in color BEA TRICE MELLINGER
intensity, the brushstrokes here are broad and smooth, the marks of generalization. Tumult rather than peace is depicted through the of the sunset sinking under an ominous black cloud. The colours rest heavily on a smoky obscured landscape, a fragile city structure of shaky houses, somber in their disappearance. Both works reference a historical and contemporary material reality, a continued transgression of geographic borders in the case of Prendre le depart (the departure) that Haitians choose in lieu of the dim reality of a moral or emotional erasure, obscurity or obliteration through poverty and oppression. This oppression is imaged in the disappearance of the physical evidence of the Haitians basic existencethe home in Sunset III Sunset III
Rhules work is marked with a de-personalizing, universalizing aesthetic in its abstraction. It maintains a sense of intimacy However, the form cups inward in a rough surface allowing its imaginary contents to spill through a suggestive opening. CLAYTON RHULE
While the pieces mirror each other in their smoothness the second piece portrays a bolder, masculine form that projects sensuously into open space. Like a clenched represents a grounded material discourse of a touristic fascination with the exotic and the Caribbean mans angered and energized response to this commoditized image of the Caribbean. The movement of this segment of the sculpture is synchronized with a supporting form. The sense of unity between the two forms, suggest a somewhat tenuous concord. The form stirs a dialogue concerning synchronization: synchronizing forms while seemingly harmonious are not necessarily nurturing.
Fo Day Morning and RR 103 both symbolically depict the settings evocative of masking. The tenor of Fo Day Morning on one hand seems celebratory with warm colors and an almost blinding spotlight. However, the technology generated greyed, reveals an alternative reality. Like the Othering series, the streaked imprints of light pattern the masked visage and the pupil-less face mimics Greens Untitled II. RR 103 meddles with a presence/ absence dialectic. The almost obliterated and obscured whitewashed masks are staring incredulously at the audience. Nude is bare visibility: nude to self and dressed by the images and glossy magazine facades of the Other. The GA GARDNER
voyeurism, and its visage is only in its populated body becoming Othered. This invasive population within the singularity of the image is raw and daunting. It begs the question: Whose is my body? Gardners works speak to processes of Othering that seem to be at work within Greens featureless faces and my own series of Othering. Resilience resonates with a historical imaginary and fortitude
The placid whiteness of the background and the disappearance of these images into a textured white suggests a tenuousalmost ghostlypresence of these reminiscent of hope. This resonance with both past and present through allusions to typical structures that suggest hope places us within the mode of tragedy their masking suggests opacity, their identities are unknown. Faille IIIGENEVIEVE LAHENSResilience with noble as well as common materials that mix establishing a rapport tinted by ritual, attracting other gestures, other glances. These different objects put together are no longer indifferent. All of this conjugated in a playful space. An often exotic game doubled by a real her existential anguish; nature, others, the gods or God. Edvard Munch on Genevieve Lahens
Faille IIIs earthy tones are punctuated by net like textures and Amerindian markings. The with the sun/moon becomes entangled in its connection with sun and earth. A cyclical nature is suggested by the movement of the markings, from man resting on Amerindian markings caught up in an egg-shaped structure below to less apparent engravings in the The cycle however is deemed a failure, somehow positive resolution does not result from the richness of these connections, rather the forms and images become tangled in nets. En Partance En Partance brings us to the realm of personal, intimate relationships landscape. A tactile surface helps to render an urgency of longing and belonging between the couple. With taut stretches and grasping is consummated. But Lahens illustrates a more insidious reality through the strength and visibility of the body of the female form and the virtual invisibility of the male with the exception of rounded head and grasping arm. Circular forms near the womans breast and on the arm of the male are suggestive of a young life birthed by the couple and the reality portrayed is of the disappearance of the male from the family unit. His presence is grasping, lustful but otherwise invisible.
While Noels work deals with the psychology of the male, Roopchand accords his focus to the feminine principle. Set in the stylus-fallopian tube connects the pulse of the landscape to the brain and the breast of the erotic silhouette. As a veiled mimicry of the tropical paradise, these abstracted tropicalities of land and sea are more complex than imagined by the Other. Growing out of the depths of dark abysses tribal images, fetal positions, the steel pan, veined imprints of hands and leaves. The work is a process of revealing and concealing, emerging and submerging form and meaning in waves of color and light. Material processes and semiotic meaning are seamlessly integrated in re-presenting the Caribbean.GLENN ROOPCHAND
RecuperationCycle 1 Cycle I is simultaneously a physical process of recycling materials and images as well as a recycling of thought, a re-membering. The circular iteration and warm coloring are suggestive of the form of a breast. The nipple or focal point of this structure is a historical image: a lowkeyed photograph of a negro with head covering. It is a foundational image positioned to be the nurturing pinnacle of the illustration. Sight is created from trash. A shifting horizon line is the boundary between past and present, trash and sight. The image is one of layered vision and veneration.MARIEDENISE DOUYON
Othering presents the dilemma of the transplanted imprinted with marks of the Other, brands in the form of white surreptitious way. Seemingly unaware of this covert exercise, from the perimeters and peer out of the darkness. The series plays with issues of voyeurism and surveillance and the replication of the self through surveillance. The series presents a double narrative, simultaneously presenting in movie montage fashion the multiplicity of self that is fashioned in this process of Othering. The camera, while obviously documenting this process of Othering, seems unable to present a clear image: it is unable to capture MARIELLE BARROWOthering Series I
the real self. The camera simultaneously is pointed at the audience so that both the other and the Other are under surveillance. Like, Green, I play with the replicated self. While Green reveals the effects of erasure of erasure (the blinds) and displacement. The idea of failure in Faille III resonates with the erasure of home in Sunset III and the disappearance of Nikolais Figure I as it slowly melts into the groud leaving but a trace. The synchronized patterns of light seem to match the synchronized grooved markings on Roberts works.
Noels silhouetted sugar daddy is a bold and real commentary on the Caribbean male. With nonchalance in his sweetman swagger, a carefully crafted voice emerges from the shadowed form. Distinct but messy, with a temporality based on consumption (sugar), the image is both secure in its darkness while slowly disappearing after the literally crafted of the historical material beginnings of our enslaved past. (Slaves were imported from Africa to work on the sugar plantations.) Its constant dripping as the week of the exhibition wears on is an active and present haunting of the erasure with which this rich form is threatened. Mononucleosis of the kissing disease or long kiss goodbye is a series of works prompted by the artists imminent move from his homeland Trinidad to the US to study. The works express a melancholic yet critical perspective of the island. NIKOLAI NOEL The smile becomes the silhouette of a boat and the shape of a cutlass.
Caribbean for Sale Caribbean for sale presents the contradictions in paradise. Marthas satirical commentary is visually aligned with Ian Strachans prose in Paradise and Plantation and Lloyd Best and Karon Polanyi Levitts arguments in Theories of the Plantation Economy. Lloyd Best submits that the historical context of colonialism has produced Caribbean society as an historical artifact of western Europe (Best 2). Martha illustrates how these contradictionsinversions of values and belief systems inconsonant with the cultural climate of the Caribbean yet by which the Caribbean situation is largely determinedare the result of this continued status. While this Western model of tourism supposedly promotes wealth and progress, it exerts a cultural pressure of Othering and an economic pressure of dependency under the umbrella of globalization. Within historical and current articulations of labor and political economy the muddy terrain and pervasive effects of the total institution of the plantation and now tourism arise as an explanatory framework for societal ills. Colonial force has only shifted in its physical application but continues to be expressed through a distinct and traceable ideological narrative. As emphasized in Marthas work, the evolving institutional structure of the plantation survives in the the epitome of globalization and exploitation. TIRZO MARTHAThe natives who behave good may get a spot in the entertainment of the so called tourists, the new conquerors.
Razor cane cutting skin names was enough Dirty drawers left there like a mockery of backs too tired, too young was enough All the double-edged smiles shielding daggers destined for those who Posses the Secret of Joy is enough. Weve been on a mission pricking stones for signs of life but they only hurl themselves and their misgivings at the living to draw blood in search of the answers to that question wedged in their minds: What is God? So, no more gluing together mosaics with cracked glass for future perfect worlds They only diffuse the light distort the picture It ends now. The Earth is tired of sending symphonies through the breasts of birds that will be only felled by hunters for sport and left to rot near hungry belly childrenENOUGH
She is tired of swallowing her beautiful incarnations too soon because boredom is remedied by squeezing the trigger at whatever threatens to become a man Enough wailing mothers and pundits lull-a-buying sleep walkers Let the Earth quake and absorb its anomalies who only see through the prism of the dollar Let the waters swell and sink the machines that dig our graves Let the tempests inhale and throw their bosoms onto glass fortresses skirted by weary men with only the skin on their backs and sewer grates for blankets must incinerate the cobwebs of consciousness so that the Real can shed its shapes and be eternally itself So that new colors can come once again into view for those who have been forced to hide their sight So that the wheel can lets us off and this carnival Its time for time to end and for Life to begin There has been enough of droplets falling from the one big sky and bouncing into civil wars There is more to this than a full stomach and stock options There is a splendor waiting to explode from inside each willing body There has been enough suffering and too many forgotten questions Will we step off the precipice into eternity or keep treading in the big sea? The die tumbles forward as the snake returns When the water jumps up its time to burn 3-24-11 Keisha Gaye-Anderson
Tell me, what do you keep in your green glass heart? What salvaged ice from forgotten moons, what rusted joints thrown up from the wrecked night of your wanting? And when the tides of your sleep ebb, what masks permit you to cross the continent of waking? Whose arboreal arms will bear you beyond these highways of stolen sand and purpling death? Ours is a dwelling you have found too broken for words. You must plant this poem slowly Danielle BoodooFortuneCROSSING
Simone was born at age 37. It was a to connect every bit of tissue, blood vessel, check the functioning of each cell. Almost on a daily basis she has to knit the heart that keeps splitting open. Its a strong heart, just swells too large sometimes. She realises that being born at 37 is a delicate process. All the parts have been used, misused, run-over, squashed, suffocated. The valves and receptors that connect the liver, the lungs, the brain, tend to malfunction sending sudden surges of electricity throughout the system. Dying is not an option. So instead she moves very slowly, aware that this apparatus is going to need lifelong repair. The doctors clamour for an answer. Its a classic case of misalignment. Weve seen this before. Just take these pills, look in the mirror and tell them that the only problem here is life. But nobodys going to pay $500 for a sugar pill. So they tell her its her mother, and last children are always so isolated. Or Saturn and Pluto happen to be in a bad cycle. Perhaps its her tainted genes. born at 37, she thinks: to bear ones own original sin, to labour ones own evolution. Its harder that way. Obviously. Simone Leid UNTITLED
We would like to express our gratitude for the assistance and support of the following: Inter-American Development Bank Staff Association David Nelson Hilary Jones James Early Diana NDiaye Christopher Cozier Scott Killen Michael Maloufwww.caribbeanintransit.com
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