Bahamian-born, London-based artist Blue Curry’s solo show “Souvenir” is on view at Vitrine Gallery at Bermondsey Square, London. The show runs through November 22, 2014. Varala Maraj interviews the artist about his explorations, themes, and vision. “By repurposing hair combs into a new sculptural form, ‘Souvenir’ challenges these associations against a backdrop of a distorted idealistic ‘island paradise’.” Read two excerpts here and access full interview in the links below:
VM: Could you tell us about the themes associated with your work?
BC: Exoticism in its many registers and nuances comes up frequently in my work. My interest in the exotic is quite wide, including not only the usual cultural exoticism that we are aware of, but also things like temporal exoticism which fuels a fascination with retro. Exoticism is when something doesn’t seem like it belongs in the place it is encountered. Many times, art is also working off of this same principle. The combs work in that way; something that you use in your bathroom at home is suddenly in a gallery space or is used in another way making you think twice about it – a locational exoticism, you can call it. It would be disingenuous of me to say I’m not aware of the exoticism historically attached to the hair comb and how carved combs from many cultures are still held in ethnographic collections worldwide. The hair comb has been historically exoticised. So here, with these sculptures, I feel like I achieve something in that a single object deals with two ways of fetishising.
[. . .]
VM: Would you consider your work to be Caribbean art?
BC: I’m not really interested in making specifically Caribbean art. I don’t like terms like this in general so my kneejerk reaction would be to say no. I work with materials and content from the Caribbean but am just working as an artist and don’t need to get hung up on definitions of my practice that are so specific. I don’t avoid the associations – if I want to work with a conch shell for example, I should be able to work with a conch shell as my raw material as much as a sculptor living in a forest can work with wood – but I’m not naive and do work with the materials understanding the weight that they carry in the lexicon of tropicality. I’d like to think that what I am engaging with is a discussion informed by the Caribbean, which extends well outside it. In any case, if people see what I do as Caribbean art because I’m from there then I’m OK with that. There are much worse things that they could say about me! [he laughs].
For more information on the Vitrine Gallery, see http://www.vitrinegallery.co.uk/exhibitions/souvenir/