Caribbean Linked was a very unique opportunity to not only meet fellow Caribbean creatives but to also have the time, space, activities and environment to cultivate those relationships in an organic way.
Quickly we noticed our very varied experiences of the Caribbean; the nuances that make it anything but a monolithic space. As much as we generally expect and understand our differences from an academic standpoint, the opportunity to exchange personal lived experiences coloured my black and white pictures of just how distinct these variations are.
As artists, our experiences shape our work and CL did so for me significantly.
I bounced between understanding us through deconstruction and accepting the Caribbean as a shifting place on all levels, unable to be defined by any one definition. As uneasy and slightly destabilizing as this was I felt it was a necessary derailment; a catalyst for a revised understanding of what it means to be of the Caribbean. From this my work came about; a performance based on creating a space on an uninhabited island, and planting my body like a seed, free to grow independent of limiting ideas about our homes.
The push and pull of influence from the cohort – now friends – made this experience memorable and deeply moving. Their depth of thought, care, support, comradery, the moments of conversation at our communal breakfasts, late nights chatting with my roommate about the day’s happenings and how drastically our understandings of Aruba and the Caribbean were changing with every 24 hr cycle.
Another element of the residency that I highly valued was the opportunity to work in tandem with the curator in residence Sofía Olascoaga. We would frequently meet as the ideas evolved and this kind of interwoven development really helped me respond to the space and develop my professional practice.
As an artist working in installation, performance and non traditional media, this was a chance to do an installation in a gallery space. Developing work specifically for a gallery was a new challenge for me as I have grown accustomed to making work which I exhibit on my own terms, and usually outdoors. It encouraged me to explore video as a way to bring my outdoor, site-specific performance into the gallery. This lead to a collaboration with writer in Residence Ethan Knowles who edited the final video for install.
Throughout the residency I felt supported and encouraged to pursue an idea which I had floating around in my mind in varied formats for some time but no resources to materialize it. The community, the resources, the effort and commitment to bring it to fruition has made this one of the most pivotal experiences in my practice to date. I owe a tremendous amount of thanks to Katherine and Chrislene, for their team work on making our ideas come to life, it was no small task.
I am immensely grateful to Caribbean Linked for this opportunity, this launching pad and the wonderful people I now know as a result of our time together.