Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago, curated by Tatiana Flores, will be on view at the Museum of Latin-American Art (MoLAA) from Sept. 16 to Feb. 25. The exhibit features 21st Century art of the Caribbean, as seen through the framework of the archipelago.
While it is common for scholars to stress the region’s variegated colonial history and extraordinary diversity, Relational Undercurrents focuses instead on identifying thematic continuities in the art of the Caribbean islands, according to MoLAA. As some of these themes are not typically thought of as belonging to “Latin America,” the exhibition questions the conceptual boundaries imposed on areas that are geographically contiguous and share both similar ecologies and histories.
Departing from the premise that the concept of Latin America favors mainland countries, the exhibition proposes a mapping of the region that begins with the islands. It features over 80 artists with roots in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Curaçao, Aruba, St. Martin, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, The Bahamas and Barbados.
As their work reveals, an insular focus brings to the fore those issues that cannot be overlooked when dealing with the Caribbean and which are also relevant to the region as a whole. Arising from the region’s prolonged legacy of colonialism, recurring themes include race and ethnicity, history, identity, sovereignty, migration and sustainability.
These and others are explored in the exhibition’s four thematic sections: Conceptual Mappings, Perpetual Horizons, Landscape Ecologies and Representational Acts. Relational Undercurrents includes painting, installation art, sculpture, photography, video, and performance. The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive, full-color catalog.
Conceptual Mappings focuses on works that represent an active effort to map intentional connectivity. Through an array of visual means, the artists in this section challenge the spatial order imposed by the traditional map, the emblem of colonialism par excellence. In the words of the scholar Walter Mignolo,“Putting the Americas on the map from a European perspective was not necessarily a task devoted to finding the true shape of the earth; it was also related to controlling territories and colonizing the imagination of people on both sides of the Atlantic.”
In contrast to imperial maps, many of the works on view here could be said to embark on a project of decolonization. Archipelagic in nature, they involve a process of counter mapping, reframing a different paradigm, plotting new points of connection, and imagining and creating new coordinates. In so doing, they propose more diverse, just and complex forms of conceiving the world.
A reception for the exhibition will take place Saturday, Sept. 16 from 7pm to 9pm. Admission is $15 but free for MoLAA members. Admission to the museum will be free on Sunday, Sept. 17, during special hours from 1pm to 5pm.
More information is available at molaa.org.