WATER /ماء: Trespassing Liquid Highways
September 10 - October 12, 2018
Gallery 102 is open M-F 9-5
801 22nd Street NW | Smith Hall of Art | Washington, DC 20052
Opening Reception + Performance
September 10 // 6:00-8:00 pm
Curated by: Ikram Lakhdhar
With hurricane Maria sweeping up the Caribbean and the current migration crisis in the Mediterranean resulting in increased deaths, slavery, and xenophobia, WATER / ماء : Trespassing Liquid Highways underscores the geographical pull of the Caribbean and the Mediterranean seas as spaces of contested movements, as liquid highways, and as sites of violence. The exhibition employs Édouard Glissant’s Archipelag thought as an analytical framework to investigate the relationality of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean seas. Through painting, collage, sculpture, video, poetry and performance, the artists examine movements within/inside/under/around the body of/and water from multi-layered perspectives—questioning colonialist and orientalist notions of paradise and uncovering forgotten transnational entanglements.
WATER / ماء : Trespassing Liquid Highways uses transnational thought as an analytical framework to perform an intricate disclosure of the intimacies that bind the seas’ shared history. Glissant writes, “Peoples do not live on exception. Relation is not made up of things that are foreign but of shared knowledge. This experience of the abyss can now be said to be the best element of exchange.” Archipelagic thinking opens up new possibilities of interpreting the ways in which the works in the show help to think through issues of racial subjugations, colonialism, imperialism, and misremembered histories of slavery. Within this vein, this exhibition crystallizes the theory that both the Caribbean and the Mediterranean are key centers that shaped the creation of the Western world and its unfurling history—looking into the political impositions of colonialism, the fluid economy of slavery and the exploitation of black and brown bodies in the creation of white wealth.
Colonial and Oriental representations of the Caribbean and Mediterranean lands, especially former colonies, are portrayed through a Eurocentric lens of the West vs. the Rest. By placing these artists side by side, WATER / ماء : Trespassing Liquid Highways is challenging the western gaze and reclaiming representation of their identities. Beyond white liberal narratives of the exotic paradise, the artists featured in the exhibition present work that binds beauty to social issues, and traditional aesthetics to contemporary inequalities.