Small Axe, its writers, editors and artists have long recognised the significant ways in which narrating histories and memories have been integral to visual culture and Caribbean art. Equally so Caribbean visuality, always in a persistent state of becoming and transformation – as language, form, style and aesthetics – perpetuate and extend traces of earlier visual formations. The SXV platform Visual Histories – provides a space for engaging with Caribbean art and images for their relationship and value to histories. Curated by Roshini Kempadoo
Roshini Kempadoo (2015) Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) archive. Courtesy of the OWTU
Roshini Kempadoo (2008), Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
Roshini Kempadoo (2004) Ghosting
Artworks prompt us to consider other ways of seeing and engaging with histories. Personal memories, people, historical material, objects, landscapes and spaces are re-imagined and evoked in ways that disrupt facts, question accuracies and authenticities of events and circumstances. Artworks may be conceived as parodic or self-effacing, humorous and ironic, or they may do justice to hidden and otherwise unseen pasts. Such artworks and images are created from audiovisual memories of the everyday and the particular. Whether spaghetti westerns, beach party or martial arts movies, novels, magazines, album covers or leaflets, they dominate our memories and artist works. They may also be images from otherwise unseen/less recognised collections and archives. Caribbean familial memory and historical documentation and spaces also contain colonial traces. Colonial documents and spaces acting as distortions of the facts of the matter provide artists with the momentum to extend and create different visual fields, to engineer a disruption of vision, provide different evidence and to represent other visual orders and perspectives.
Untitled (1997). Digital scan. Courtesy of the National Archives of Guyana
Roshini Kempadoo (2006) “Diary by Mrs. Procope's relative” Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
Untitled (2000). Digital scan. Courtesy of the National Archives of Guyana
The artworks presented for sxv visual histories then will be significant to imagining the past in the present as contributions to Caribbean visual culture. We invite artists, curators, researchers and critics to publish their work online that evoke a past as transformative to our cultural present. The aim is to identify and engage in a dialogue about such visual artworks as historical/memory traces and as alternative re-imaginings about the Caribbean.