Dieser Text ist nicht auf Deutsch, weil ich die der Sprache innewohnende Gewalt bei der Beschreibung von Personen, Gegenständen und Orten, mit denen ich arbeite, äußerst ungerecht und daher ungeeignet finde.
The palette of La Soufriere’s1 most recent eruption awoke memories of another deeply emotional encounter with the Caribbean – the story of the death of Ashes, a young man from Grenada, as shown in a 2014 video artwork of the same name by Steve McQueen2. With the telling of each incident there is a juxtaposition of bright, shifting beauty with a billowing, darkening violence which is done to bodies and to landscapes.
Over the sound of the sea, two local men talk about their friend Ashes, who discovered a stash of drugs on a beach. He thought it was his lucky day. He thought he’d get rich. Soon after, some guys came looking. “They shot him in the hand for him to let go of what he was holding. And when they shoot him in the hand, he let go. But he tried to run and then they shoot him in the back and when he fell one of them guys went over to him and shoot him up around his belly and his legs and thing. And that was about it.” 3
One painting is of a still of the Ashes video- it has been painted over several times, and there is no guarantee that this is its final version. The camera attached to the boat upon which Ashes is seated is fixed, but the sea tosses the vessel, and Ashes is restless. There are several different frames of this video from which one might make a painting.
The other painting is from a still of another video– taken almost 20 years after the first, presumably by the local Coast Guard– of the coast of Saint Vincent, where, winding through an ash-laden mountainscape, the Wallilabou river winds and drudges its way into the sea.
With these two paintings and my sketchbook, as well as charcoal drawings and a sailing map of the Caribbean, I grapple with questions of loss, identity, access and privilege. There is much emotional work in applying decolonial thought to art and art history, while at the same time learning, teaching and practicing in spaces designed to hold the center of European capitalist power.
I try to show this work by dissolving the frame of the painting, showing the negotiations that led to a presumably finished artwork, and the constantly changing perspectives required to try to settle on which version of a story ends up being told.
The drawings and symbols adorning the pedestals and backs of the canvases are research drawings from work with garden plots of the once enslaved or indentured, as well as gestures remaining from my work with artistic dress and the colonial body, called Parade Créole.
1 Volcano on the island of Saint Vincent, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
3 Searle, Adrian. ‘Steve McQueen Review: Like a Punch in the Gut’ The Guardian, 13. October, 2014