“The Repeating Island / Contemporary Art of the Caribbean,” curated by Roxana M. Bermejo, opened on Friday, November 29, 2019, and continues through January 31, 2020, at Kendall Art Center (located at 12063 SW 131st Avenue, Miami, Florida). For a spectacular cinematic tour of the exhibition, by Teo Freytes, visit MSA Xperimental. [The gif above is also by Teo—thank you!]
Description: Kendall Art Center in collaboration with Presencia Projects, The Mestre Family Collection, and The Rodríguez Collection presents, “The Repeating Island: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean.” Curated by Roxana M. Bermejo, the exhibition examines particular artistic practices in Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. For this edition of Miami Art Week 2019, Presencia arrives at Kendall Art Center with more comprehensive projects that explore contemporary Insular Caribbean Hispanic art, either produced on the islands, or in diaspora. “The Repeating Island” demonstrates the rich and diverse cultures of the Hispanic Caribbean islands with works by Henry Ballate, José Bedia, Toni Capellán, Miguel Conesa-Osuna, Antonio Cortés, Bladimir Díaz, Pedro Ávila, José Tomás Ares Germán, Antonio Guadalupe, Ivonne Ferrer, Moises Fragela, Clara Ledesma, Edwin Maurás, Edwin Maurás Jr, Abdías Méndez, Manuel Mendive, Hiram Montalvo, José Félix Moya, Ramón Oviedo, José Perdomo, Aimee Perez, Ciro Quintana, Naimar Ramírez, Lisyanet Rodríguez, Annie Y. Saldaña, Irene Sierra, Reynerio Tamayo, Rosa Tavárez, José Torres, and Rubén Torres-Llorca.
Here are excerpts from the essay “Allegories from a Bombay Suburb,” by curator Roxana M. Bermejo:
[. . .] “Caribe” is a concept carried and brought, questioned at the end of the road without clear delimitations: “Caribe” by the conflicting aborigines which has given its name, “Caribe” by the islands of the Great Kan, “Caribe” by the sea that so many centuries of glimpse has embraced, “Caribe” as Imperial Frontier, “Caribe” as Uteral Basin, “Caribe”… that only exist for economists, politicians and academics. So much to look at, so much where to toss, but in essence: What “Caribe” do we glimpse today in the show? Well, as its name “The Repeating Island” indicates, we will be reflecting a Caribbean behind the eyes of Antonio Benítez Rojo. This is a fragmented, chaotic Caribbean, exfoliated by the machinery of Columbus, titanic: A Caribbean united within the chaos that represents the lack of an identity with long branches, the absence of the subject who migrated in a canoe with the rush of arriving on a new land, more fertile, unburned, carrying with him only the necessary, a subject that produces not a monumental art in size, but in its content. That is the Caribbean that we look at today: a diasporic Caribbean, that after five centuries of swells, still on the edge of the boat, stripped of all fanfare and turning its head from the seaboard with nostalgia, sequestered – How not? for that sentiment of acute offing described by Lezama.
[. . .] The Caribbean is, summarized, an influx zone, where water represents the main channel of entry and exit for our identity. It does not demerit the distance taken, when the analysis is carried out from referential perspectives, perspectives of self-recognition, fundamental links in the process of territorializing of our collective imaginary. The Caribbean is a space of overlapping, even when in reality we do not know if it is an area, a concept or a feeling, because in each of its attempts to comprehend, it goes with the experience of each entity that conforms it, from the same fragmentation that each one of us represent within its whole. Every man, as our Virgilio would say, “goes eating fragments of the island”. And the island, as Benítez Rojo would say, repeats over and over again as well in Miami, Santo Domingo, Havana, San Juan or in a Bombay Suburb.
[. . .] It is, then, for this momentum of self-reference, that each room of our exhibition navigates undifferentiated by referents of the Hispanic Caribbean, without making distinction for countries or trends, so that each of us is portrayed by the hands of an artist who may or may not be from our land, without the prejudices that a small homeland can implant us. This is, without a doubt, a sample for the spectator, where the art work is used as a reference resource, that each piece is worth as a pretext to read within ourselves, in order to understand the confluences, tributaries and the coastlines that each work encloses and transmits as a small island in itself. Titles such as “Cemí”, “Mitos del Caribe”, “Emigrantes Caribeños”, “Ilusión Tropical”, “Isla de los Muertos”, “La Historia del Tabaco”, “Hijos del Agua”, “El Mundo Mágico” and “Chango”, are present in this tour of contemporary production of the Hispanic Caribbean where we were born. Signings that inundate, such as José Bedia, Tony Capellán, Miguel Conesa-Osuna, Clara Ledesma, Edwin Maurás and Manuel Mendive mix in their art works frizzy and smooth sounds, “Aruacas”, Spanish, and African phonetics in order to reach a common language, neither forgotten nor dead, capable to call us by our name, when the table is served and Mom expects us to come home.
For full essay, see https://www.kendallartcenter.org/therepeatingisland