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Caribbean photographers bring together the past and the present

Embodied Islands photography exhibitionThe Warwick Arts Centre at the University of Warwick is hosting an exhibition of Caribbean photography; Embodied Islands. The exhibition is running from 20 - 25 June in the Helen Martin Studio.

Embodied Islands is a photography exhibition bringing together the past and the present in the Caribbean Region, one of the most creative regions for visual art and photography.

Associate Professor Dr Fabienne Viala, Director of the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies said:

“The exhibition presents a fusion of historical 19th century stereoview photography and contemporary visual art by award winning Caribbean photographers, providing a rare opportunity to learn about post-colonial Caribbean life through the history of photography.

“We invite viewers to explore the different narratives behind photography as an artistic form, the historical and cultural context of the islands and modern day Caribbean lives.”

Embodied Islands photography exhibitionThe exhibition consists of two different visual elements. At the center of the room, is a display of 200 stereoviews (the ancestor of photographs). These were taken at the very end of the 19th century across the Caribbean Region, just after the abolition of slavery. They offer a rare opportunity to see the conditions of life and work of the Caribbean people in a colonial environment.

These pictures are as much a historical witnesses of the plantation system as visual triggers to reflect on how photography was used as a tool to justify the exploitation of the workers’ body as a commodity.

The exhibition offers a rare opportunity to think about the history of photography, a stereoscope will be displayed in the room to replicate how people would view these photographs during the 1880’s.

Embodied Islands will also display the works of four contemporary Caribbean artists, whose photographs challenge the ways in which the human body is represented in the Caribbean.

Embodied Islands photography exhibitionNadia Huggins from Saint Vincent, winner of the last Caribbean Festival of the Image, takes picture of teenagers while they dive from the cliff into the water as part of a coming of age ritual. The pictures are taken under water and represent the body in an almost supernatural way, as if their movement was frozen under water.

Robert Charlotte’s (from Martinique) series of portraits of the Garifuna people of Saint Vincent tell the story of the artist’s encounter with his Caribbean brothers and the Garifunas strong will to remain free.

Jean-Baptiste Barret, another renowned photographer from Martinique, portraits men and women with masks, posing in amazing tropical landscapes while reenacting a mythology of the island as a new Caribbean Odyssey, that is open to the spectator’s interpretation.

Embodied Islands photography exhibition

Jean-François Manicom, from Guadeloupe, was awarded in 2016 the prize for the best photographer at the Vera international Festival of Contemporary Art in Moscow for his series “Darbonne”, which portraits the nightlife on the Route de Darbonne, in Haiti. The silhouettes of adults and children on the Route de Darbonne are like ghostlike dancers in chiaroscuro behind the cars headlights.


Embodied Islands

An exhibition of Caribbean Photography

Warwick Art Center, Helen Martin Studio, 20th-25th June



Alex Buxton

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