Black Brazilian and Caribbean women artists: challenging invisibility

Kelly Sinnapah Mary

AICA Caraïbe du Sud [the International Association of Art Critics – Southern Caribbean (AICA-SC)] invites you to a lecture by Matilde dos Santos, historian, linguist, PhD candidate in Art History, and member of the AICA-SC. The title of her talk is “Black Brazilian and Caribbean women artists: challenging invisibility.” The event will take place on Friday, January 18, 2018 at 6:00pm at La Case à vents, Tropiques’Atrium (located at 6 rue Jacques Cazotte, Fort-de-France, Martinique).


Description: This lecture was previously presented at the University of Edinburgh in November 2017 as part of the Politics and Poetics of Afro-Latin Visibility Symposium. It explores the subversive power of women’s bodies and performances, especially, through the strange and unsettling images produced by the works of Brazilian artists Rosana Paulino, Michèlle Matiuzzi, and Priscila Rezende; and Caribbean artists Suzanna Pilar (Cuba), Kelly Sinapah Mary (Guadeloupe), and Barbara Prezeau (Haiti). She discusses how they are fighting the double invisibility of black women on the contemporary art scene.

Matilde dos Santos writes: Brazil is, after Nigeria, the country where the black population is the largest in the world; Up to 56% of the inhabitants of Brazil declare to be black or colored.  A full one-third of marriages in Brazil are interracial, said to be the highest rate in the world. But a range of colours cannot disguise a fundamental truth: there is a hierarchy, and white is at the top. On 2001, the exhibition Never to forget: black memoires , memories of black people, showed photographs of important black people in Brazil and along with the entertainers and sportive we all know there were politicians, doctors, writers, most of them not seen as black, generally. Four of our formers presidents where afro descendants but none of them were identified as black. This is ostentatious invisibility. And a very similar situation of social (and artistic) invisibility can be found in the Caribbean Islands, especially in the case of people of India descent. This presentation will show the art work of black female artists from Brazil and the Caribbean dealing with invisibility and subpoena. These works, mainly performance-art works, revolve around the so-called feminine knowledges and how they can become lever of visibility, the condition of black women and the role of memory, in connection with the history of slavery, the staging of the body as self-empowerment   but also the intimacy and sexuality and  the domestic universe, female and subordinate par excellence, and the imposition of a white beauty standard.

[Many thanks to Dominique Brebion for sharing this item with us.]

[Above: from Kelly Sinapah Mary’s series “Jyoti Singh Pandey”; below: Pricila Rezende performance Laços (Noeuds), Musée de Pampulha, 17 nov 2013, photo Daniel Zanott.]


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