The two part format of this year’s residency provided an opportunity for me to execute a transnational artwork I wanted to begin for a while.
I did the first version of ‘Musical chairs/A game of chance’ performance/ installation in Barbados.
I invited people to the beach to build chairs out of sand. After 3.5 hours of building together I began to play the game of musical chairs solo, singing a local song about displacement while interrupting with excerpts from a speech given by Barbados’ Prime Minister, where she pleaded with larger nations to see that we are not disposable people in the climate crisis. This performance was an allegorical work highlighting the unpredictability and fragility of the Caribbean in the face of climate change.
This work stemmed from me imagining the Caribbean islands as a group of people playing musical chairs, one by one another island is ‘out’, while the rest of us continue playing, unsure when our turn will come and how close we might come to being ‘out’ too. Barbados has been a ‘lucky’ island sitting just outside of the typical path of hurricanes with no threat of volcanoes or earthquakes, but this year alone has challenged this. As I build these installations on beaches I am considering who destroys the chairs, sometimes it’s the people on the beach, myself, the tide or the very sand itself collapsing.
I was scheduled to travel to Dominica and The Bahamas during August and thought this would be a fitting opportunity to repeat a version of this performance in two environments significantly altered by hurricanes in recent years. I did not make it to Dominica, however, I did travel to The Bahamas where I built 1 chair. This solo performance of the building process was observed by patrons of the hotel and a few evening walkers strolling along Goodman Bay. With limited supplies I worked for about two hours. One local gentleman who walked past earlier commented on my progress on his return. I asked him if he knew what it was, and he replied “Of course! It’s a seat for a king!’ This is the only dialogue from this performance. His certainty was oddly reassuring, and I’m still trying to pinpoint why.
Through my conversation with Miguel Lopez I came to summarize my practice with one word: ‘care’ and it occurred to me how the majority of my works are ‘in progress’, heavily dependent on time, environment and events , and within this passage of time the work has periodic outputs. Essentially, my practice is increasingly a collection of in progress works curated to aid in my own self care and care of others and my natural environment. This ongoing installation of chairs across the Caribbean is another way of investigating care in fragile spaces. I do become attached to the processes and the daily dialogues I have with each piece. Miguel asked if I had an end time or idea of when my ‘Symbiosis’ project would end, another ongoing performance started in 2020. It occurred to me that I am not likely to end it until it matures, I have no specificities or expectations on timeframe, just curiosities framed as an intended outcome.