Re-Shaping the Sugar
Exhibition at WhiteBox NY
By Yohanna M. Roa, curator
Join us this coming Thursday, 2/16, from 6 to 8 pm for the opening reception of Re-Shaping The Sugar, and meet the artists and curator. This exhibition marks the 10th chapter in the EXODUS series conforming to a long-view programmatic exhibition and workshop series dealing with and delineating vital creative realities existing within localized New York City localities construed by the effort and efficacy of various generations of émigré and ex-pat artists and cultural members arriving in and making New York City their home turfs.
About the Exhibition
The first translation of the word Caribbean into a European language dates back to 1492, found in the journals of Christopher Columbus. From his gaze facing the incomprehension of a culture alien to his, having a completely different perspective of the world, Columbus mistakenly decided to name cannibals all inhabitants of the lands we now call The Lesser Antilles. The process of creating the Caribbean is confusing and contradictory, and full of contrasts subject to the geopolitical changes that have occurred over the last 500 years. Within the framework of Black History Month, WhiteBox Presents “Re-shaping the Sugar”, an exhibition that investigates the Afro-Latin roots present in the memory of ‘Black America’. The show includes the work of seven relevant Caribbean artists based in New York City, Juana Valdes, Coco Fusco, Alicia Grullon, Renluka Maharaj, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Joiri Minaya and Jacqueline Herranz-Brooks. Their exhibited works challenge the historical, geographical, and political delimitations of what we call “Caribbean”.
Of the multiple ideas that flutter around this territory, outstanding: imperial border, colonial past, slave-owning haciendas, tourist lands or paradise for multinationals and off-shore banking, making it evident that the Caribbean is a construct forged in the discourses of a socio-historical process regarding this sea, its territories and the bodies that inhabit it, external agents having intervened pushing forth such transformation. The works in this exhibition abruptly look at and shake up the region’s current situations linked with the historical trajectories that constitute them. From a decolonial perspective, they rearticulate the relationship between word and image, reconnecting memories and bodies that colonial thought have separated.
“Re-Shaping The Sugar” questions the traditional notion of a single Caribbean, making it clear that there is no precise definition for it, on the contrary it is a complex and diverse, multiracial, multilingual and transnational region. We have multiple Caribbeans defined by historical, political and geographical contexts with a high degree of flexibility in terms of identity and intense diasporic movements. Memory, body, identity, and personal stories are interwoven to reshape and shake up that sugary idea of a territory that, due to its strategic geographical location, has been tirelessly tried to be tamed for 500 years.