Art Exhibition: Annalee Davis’ “This Ground beneath My Feet”


Barbadian artist Annalee Davis’ solo exhibition “This Ground beneath My Feet – A Chorus of Bush in Rab Lands,” curated by Holly Bynoe, takes place at The Idea Lab, The Warfield Center, The University of Texas-Austin. The show runs from September 15 – December 15, 2016.

“This Ground Beneath My Feet – A Chorus of Bush in Rab Lands[1] includes a collection of works from the last two years of Barbadian artist, Annalee Davis’, practice. The drawings, ledgers, and tea service, along with a culled collection of essays, books, and scholarly material, comprise this exhibition and accompanying Reading Room.

Here, Davis mines family and historical archives from the early 19th century to the 1970s and unpacks her family’s plantation to offer her reflection on historical realities within the Anglophone Caribbean. Binding together autobiographical elements with sites of investigation, Davis resuscitates history.  She considers how plantations in general, and her family’s in particular, defy comprehension—even as their economies of labor and production are understood.

Initiating the larger body of work on paper, the discursive project White Creole Conversations features a collection of 25 field recordings and written interviews, paying testament to the ambiguous and often contradictory ways that race and class are read historically and understood in the context of the Caribbean. These works on paper continue this conversation; with the delicate compendium of collages, drawings on plantation ledger papers, and scroll-like paintings, Davis creates poetic devices that enable connection, transformation, and regeneration.

In the Rab Lands, wild flora is resilient and fragile, ambiguous and lucid.  Narratives of assumption become tenuous as reimagined points of convergence come alive in fields and emerge from the belly of history within stories that have been silenced. Davis wanders through fields studying wild plants and the former monoculture crop, Sugarcane, while paying special attention to how the legacies of slavery, colonization, and ancestral trauma have scarred and exhausted the landscape.

Continuing to push the boundaries of materiality in her work, the development of (Bush) Tea Services – the sculptural centerpiece – incorporates porcelain shards and red clay unearthed from several archeological digs at Walkers Dairy, former plantation. The Tea Service symbolically connects to the imagery present in the Rab Lands, abstracting the wild plants from quotidian usage repurposing their intention to ritual, consumption and healing.

This space has been designed to facilitate discussion and encourage investigation of the historical complexities within the Caribbean, and beyond. Sit and peruse.

[[1] A late 16th century term referring to various types of stony or gravelly subsoil; rubble, gravel. In Barbados it refers to land that was formerly under sugarcane cultivation and has been left to grow wild plants. The term is usually used in a disparaging way signaling land that is deemed unsuitable for agricultural production.]

Click here for more information about the artist, Annalee Davis.

Click here for more information about the curator, Holly Bynoe


Click here to read more

Click here to visit the 2016 exhibition e-catalogue


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