Photography image by Ancel Daniel
Like the Jehovah’s Witness bearing down on the streets of St. Philip, Barbados, so was Sotheby’s visitation to me a few weeks ago. I was not sure if I should pull my curtains or open my back door.
I was assigned to a Sotheby Student who seemed disinterested from the beginning of work she had no connection with. I remembered meeting her a few months before on their first group visit to the MAFA studio space where I was able to introduce myself and work. It was another opportunity for me to reexamine my process and receive critique from students outside of my space.
It was also an opportunity for me to propose questions to the young curator in the hope that she may have some insight into how a foreign student can help her understand concepts rooted in Caribbean culture, using contemporary Euro language. Instead, her posture revealed a state of displacement from the monologue coming from my end. The student was not familiar with Caribbean artists or had any clue on what I was discussing. It then occurred to me that I should be completely honest and let her know I was not enjoying the meeting, and with that, she awoke.
Many do not give a rat’s ass about Caribbean cultural dynamics, neither the art produced in that hemisphere since it does not appeal to the contemporary standards of Euro-Western culture. It is as if the Caribbean artist needs to dismantle their way of free thinking that is rooted in their heritage to appease those who decide their destiny in this space. What a sack of Bullshit.
Unfortunately, my Sotheby’s friend was lost for words for a minute then declared, “She has never curated a show and many times students on her curating theme feel the same frustration.”
What is missing from this ingredient? Students should be allowed to express themselves in whatever way they choose and whatever material they are comfortable with to tell their story, just like everybody else. Or they will lose their authentic voice for one year and ease just to please to get through a program just like my Sotheby’s friend who sat there nonchalant looking at the clock.