I have to admit, when I saw Antigua and Barbuda’s name pop up in this article, I hoped one of our artists might be included (you know how I am about representation). That mention:
‘“After that hurricane season happened, we asked ourselves, how can we think about our future?” said [co-curator Maria Elena] Ortiz. “I think the Caribbean has been marked by traumatic things, it’s a source of inspiration that is valid and true. But how to move beyond that, is it possible, needed? How can we have autonomy? It’s often forgotten or not talked about.”
It ties into the recent announcement from Antigua, which has a “Chinese colony” plan to build resorts, homes and factories, sparking outrage from local activists and environmentalists.
Last summer, Antigua and Barbuda was the first country in the region to sign up for China’s Belt and Road initiative, which will see infrastructure built across the islands, including one area that is a marine-protected reserve.’
Issues at the intersection of investment and ownership and autonomy and independence and development and the environment and resources/lack of resources and China’s expanding influence in the region (among other things) are definitely part of the conversation – some on the news, some in the street, some whispered. I would like to think our visual artists are engaging with these issues as well – but art has so little impetus here: no national gallery, no endowments, no grants, limited opportunities (whether workshops, apprenticeships, or opportunities to BE an artist), none of the network of agents and managers that can assist with accessing off island opportunities, no real clear interest in the non-Carnival arts on the part of the powers that be.But also no lack of talent and unique point of view (and let’s be clear the artists are still putting in the work and from Wadadli Pen – which has now and again included visual arts challenges to The Black Exhibit to Spilling Ink and others, the community tries to shore up its own). I would just like to see more opportunity that’s all, especially when we are specifically part of the conversation.
That said, this looks really interesting and really relevant and I like the idea of moving away from the traditional themes, techniques, and perspectives (as Antigua and Barbudan artists like Mark Brown, X-Sapphair King before his untimely death, Guava de Artist, Emile Hill, and others have been doing) – and, if you’re in the area (see details of The Other Side of Now after the link), I encourage you to check it out. Participating artists (I looked it up because I was hoping there was an Antiguan-Barbudan artist involved) are Jamaican artists Deborah Anzinger, Charles Campbell, and Jamilah Sabur; Andrea Chung who is American of Chinese, Trinidadian ,and Jamaican descent and Nyugen Smith who is American of Trinidad descent; Hulda Guzman of the Dominican Republic; Deborah Jack of St. Martin/Netherlands; Louisa Marajo from Martinique; Manuel Mathieu of Haiti; Trinidad and Tobago’s Alicia Milne, who, per the article, had the interesting concept of appropriating and subverting those cliche touristic plates; Lavar Munroe of the Bahamas; Angel Otero and Cristina Tufiño of Puerto Rico; and the one whose work and whose arc as one of the region’s young, distinctive, emerging voices I’m most familiar with Sheena Rose of Barbados.
A review by Nadja Sayej for London’s Guardian. In The Other Side of Now, 14 young artists are looking to the future of the region rather than focusing on the past “Is it possible to move Caribbean art, or art of the Caribbeandiaspora, away from trauma and catastrophe?” asks María Elena Ortiz, who has co-curated a new […]