The Visual Life of Social Affliction aims to explore the ways in which Caribbean visual practice illuminates the domain of social affliction. By “social affliction” we mean to point to the experience of suffering, degradation, and humiliation that derive from the uninterrupted history of structural and systemic violence that has shaped the region—from the genocidal elimination of the native peoples through colonial plantation slavery and indenture to the neoliberal present. We are especially interested in the stigma of blackness, the disgrace of poverty, and the shame of queer sexuality. In our view, the visual arts constitute one of the most vital expressive and hermeneutic optics through which to explore this experiential domain. For the VLOSA project we have commissioned ten artists (in alphabetical order: Blue Curry, Florine Demosthene, Ricardo Edwards, Patricia Kaersenhout, Miguel Luciano, Anna Jane McIntyre, René Peña, Marcel Pinas, Belkis Ramírez, and Kara Springer) to produce one original work, and paired them with ten commissioned writers (in order of pairing: Chandra Frank, Christian Campbell, Yolanda Wood, Anna Kesson, Kaneesha Parsard, Christina León, Erica Moiah James, Nicole Smythe-Johnson, Marielle Barrow, and Claire Tancons) who will produce an original essay on the work of the artist. The project has so far involved a curated exchange between the artists and writers at the Lowe Museum, University of Miami, 3-4 May 2018, and will eventually be realized in forthcoming exhibitions and a catalogue.
David Scott, Erica Moiah James, Nijah Cunningham, Roshini Kempadoo, and Juliet Ali
Caribbean Queer Visualities aims to inquire into the relations between queer sensibilities and visual artistic practice in the Caribbean region and its diaspora. How have Caribbean artists responded to the discourses and powers shaping sexual identity, to the conformist state and community practices concerning modes of family and kinship and belonging? Can one read engagements with sexual identity in the practice of Caribbean visual practitioners? Indeed, can one speak of a “queer visuality” in the Caribbean? And to the extent that one can, what might some of the implications be for queering Caribbean contemporary art practice? Notoriously, in spite of vaunted claims to respect pluralism, Caribbean nation-states have been less than tolerant of those whose sexual identities and personal sensibilities have not publicly conformed to the presumed cultural norms of sex, gender, and family that dissent from normative forms of heterosexuality and patriarchy. For CQV we paired five artists and five writers on each of two occasions—at Yale University, 14-15 November 2014 (Ewan Atkinson with Jafari Allen, Andil Gosine with Vanessa Agard-Jones Leosho Johnson with Patricia Saunders, Kareem Mortimer with Roshini Kempadoo, and Ebony Patterson with Nadia Ellis), and at Columbia University, 2-3 April 2015 (Jean-Ulrick Désert with Jerry Philogene, Richard Fung with Terri Francis, Nadia Huggins with Angelique Nixon, Charl Landvreugd with Rosamond King, and Jorge Pineda with Maja Horn). Subsequently the work was exhibited in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the Golden Thread Gallery during the Outburst Queer Arts Festival, November 2016, and in Glasgow, Scotland, at Transmission Gallery in March 2017.
David Scott, Erica Moiah James, Nijah Cunningham