Author/s: Susan Mains, Daniele Radini Tedeschi
Derek Walcott in his Nobel lecture, The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory said, “Antillean art is this restoration of our shattered histories, our shards of vocabulary, our archipelago becoming a synonym for pieces broken off from the original continent.”
The artists of the Grenada Pavilion each pull from their own experience this long trail of memory to define themselves in a Caribbean Context. The Visitor, the Victim, the
Valiant, the Voice, each portray a fragment when woven together maps a Caribbean Civilization that is in constant flux.
Their artworks are dreamy, impalpable, ethereal. They emerge from a dreamlike dimension, as if they were sediments of old memories or fantasies with a translucent consistency. These works come from a symbiotic relationship with the seductive surrounding nature and they merge with it: that same land tells itself through the vague sparkle of their vibrations. They are in fact mutable and constantly changing works, just like memory itself, which must continually renegotiate its own essence. What is fixed today, will be dissolved in a bright light and in an opaque dusk tomorrow, eternally.
The synthesis of the Old World—Europe, Africa, India, the East – comes together, bound by salt water, and is something vaguely familiar, but entirely new. The recorded history, always at risk of being destroyed by the movements of earth, fire, wind, and water, gives way to the memory stored in the DNA, passed from generation to generation. As with any civilization, family makes the consequential scars, and these become the ties that bind.
The art that comes from this seeming confusion is at once individualistic and cooperative. The essence of it, that scent that is recognized, connects the artist and the viewer in an ever changing choreography of understanding—a “belaire”* of creole concoction. Maybe the artist has something deep and meaningful to convey, or maybe he is just playing with you. Caveat emptor — do not be fooled.
- The Belaire is a folk dance that infuses 19th century clothing from the French, made with cloth from Madras in India, with the steps of a traditional West African dance and drumming. It is essentially West Indian, seen throughout the southern and eastern Caribbean.