Caribbean photography exhibition from University of Warwick heads for Belgrade Theatre

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Exhibition will display images which challenge the ways in which the human body is represented in the Caribbean, James Rodger reports for The Coventry Chronicle.

Two of the city’s most beloved cultural assets will join together for a new exhibition in Coventry, it has been announced.

The Embodied Islands exhibition of Caribbean photography, which has been organised and curated by the Centre for Caribbean Studies at the University of Warwick, will be on show in the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry from October 3 to October 28.

Following the exhibitions success at the Warwick Arts Centre on the university’s main campus last month, the new exhibition will be displayed at the Belgrade Plaza theatre house to coincide with Black History month in October this year.

Embodied Islands is a photography exhibition bringing together the past and the present in the Caribbean Region, one of the most creative regions for visual art and photography.

Associate Professor Dr Fabienne Viala, Director of the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies said: “The exhibition presents a fusion of historical 19th century stereoview photography and contemporary visual art by award winning Caribbean photographers, providing a rare opportunity to learn about post-colonial Caribbean life through the history of photography.

“We invite viewers to explore the different narratives behind photography as an artistic form, the historical and cultural context of the islands and modern day Caribbean lives.”

The exhibition consists of two different visual elements looking at the depiction of the Caribbean in the past and the present.

200 stereoviews (the ancestor of photographs) taken at the very end of the 19th century across the Caribbean Region, just after the abolition of slavery, offer a rare opportunity to see the conditions of life and work of the Caribbean people in a colonial environment.

These pictures are as much a historical witnesses of the plantation system as visual triggers to reflect on how photography was used as a tool to justify the exploitation of the workers’ body as a commodity.

The exhibition offers a rare opportunity to think about the history of photography.

To compliment this, a stereoscope will be displayed in the room to replicate how people would view these photographs during the 1880’s.

Embodied Islands will also display the works of four contemporary Caribbean artists, whose photographs challenge the ways in which the human body is represented in the Caribbean.

Nadia Huggins from Saint Vincent, winner of the last Caribbean Festival of the Image, takes pictures of teenagers while they dive from the cliff into the water as part of a coming of age ritual.

The pictures are taken under water and represent the body in an almost supernatural way, as if their movement was frozen under water.

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Robert Charlotte’s (from Martinique) series of portraits of the Garifuna people of Saint Vincent tell the story of the artist’s encounter with his Caribbean brothers and the Garifunas strong will to remain free.

Jean-Baptiste Barret, another renowned photographer from Martinique, portraits men and women with masks, posing in amazing tropical landscapes while reenacting a mythology of the island as a new Caribbean Odyssey, that is open to the spectator’s interpretation.

Jean-François Manicom, from Guadeloupe, was awarded in 2016 the prize for the best photographer at the Vera international Festival of Contemporary Art in Moscow for his series “Darbonne”, which portraits the nightlife on the Route de Darbonne, in Haiti.

The silhouettes of adults and children on the Route de Darbonne are like ghostlike dancers in chiaroscuro behind the cars headlights.

Throughout October, the Belgrade Theatre will be hosting a series of events, talks and workshops exploring the history and heritage of the African-Caribbean community to mark Black History Month.

The full programme of events will be announced soon and more details will be available by clicking here.

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