CFP: Interrogating Memory, a Shared Art History of the Caribbean?

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Revue du Macte shares a call for contributions for Interrogating Memory, a Shared Art History of the Caribbean? [En quête de mémoires, une histoire de l’art partagée de la Caraïbe ?] The deadline for submission of proposals is March 20, 2021. See description and guidelines below.

The Caribbean is now facing a deep social, environmental, and political crisis. Recent climatic and virological upheavals as well as the pauperization of vulnerable populations contribute to the rise of irredentism (nationalisms and communitarianism, among others), amplified by the international movement Black Lives Matter. The legacies of the slavery-steeped past, the still-open wounds, nourish identity claims, militant postures, acts of destruction performed against the symbols of colonization in the public and digital space (commemorative plaques, statues, stereotypical images). A spirit of mistrust is spreading and becoming popular against an artistic and iconographic heritage that is increasingly contested and decontextualized. Works linked to the world of slavery, imperialism, transatlanticism, or postcolonialism bear witness to historical memories to be interrogated, in order to better understand and deconstruct them. Paintings, sculptures, engravings, photographs, furniture, objects, illustrated books, referring to the colonial fact, preserved in museums, libraries, archive centers and private collections around the world help to make the past speak, educating the gaze, arousing emotions, and moving towards a form of resilience. While many iconographic collections have contributed, over time, to spreading imperialist imaginaries with unbalanced relationships, to popularizing and rooting racialist theories (A. Lafont), others have also denounced, through the engaged actions of the creators, the violence of the system of domination of peoples (M. Dorigny).

Research in public and private collections has also brought to light, in the artistic and cultural milieu, stories charged with a diasporic presence that have often remained in the shadows. It has revealed trajectories of migration and modern life that evolved over the decades preceding and following the abolition of slavery (D. Murrell). Artists sometimes had family relationships and close friendships with their models (D. Murrell, C. Lozère). From the 18th century, the identification, in primary sources, of artists from the Caribbean or who settled there (V. Poupeye, A. Cummins, C. Lozère), artistic and artisanal practices and traditions of the islands, committed counter-discourse, exchanges and aesthetic métissages, force us to question these works, the trajectories of artists, as well as our own categorizations and mental representations. Facing a world where the diasporic presence is asserting itself, a shared and decentralized art history needs to be written. It is then a question of interrogating how the memories and the stories attached to them, produced by the work of artists, confront those of the empires (British, French, Dutch and Spanish). Why is this artistic heritage now rejected or revised (S. Mintz, R. Price)? And under what intellectual, economic and social conditions were aesthetic repertoires and artistic tastes formed in a historical sequence dominated by slavery (S. Gikandi), what margins of freedom did artists have?

This work will examine the methodological, scientific, and artistic approaches in the promotion and management of collections with sensitive and fissured memory. It will center on showing how researchers, curators, and museum institutions now approach the slave trade and colonial past as well as racial issues through a critical and historicized analytical reading of the works, sometimes testifying to contrasting national positions. The constitution, provenance, and functions of these collections; their inscriptions in public, private, community and family spaces; as well as the territories of history, material and visual cultures, and retained temporal sequences (pre-slavery, slavery, abolition, and battles for citizenship, post-slavery) will be interrogated. The role of the exhibition, as a space for studies, exchanges and scientific debates, will also be examined. Finally, space will be given to artists to voice their own relationships with colonial collections, including rejection, appropriation, diversion, deconstruction, and reconstruction of forms.

Preferred themes:

  • Methodological, scientific, and artistic approaches to the promotion and management of museum collections.
  • History of art and colonial artistic heritage of the Caribbean, critical and historicized analysis of works
  • Constitution of collections and their inscriptions in their reception areas
  • Relationship of contemporary artists to the Caribbean colonial collections

The selected articles will result in a publication in French in issue number 2 of the Revue du Macte. An English version is also planned. Proposals for articles in French or English, submitted to the scientific committee, should be sent before March 20, 2021 to the following address: lozerechristelle@yahoo.fr.  They must include a title and an abstract of 150 words maximum and a short biography (100 words) in French and English. The illustrated work will consist of articles between 15,000 and 20,000 characters.

Contact lozerechristelle@yahoo.fr

Project coordinators: Christelle Lozère (UA LC2S), Laurella Rinçon (Mémorial Acte)

Translated from the French by Ivette Romero. For the original call,  seehttps://lc2s.cnrs.fr/actualite/appel-a-communication-revue-macte, https://twitter.com/analuciaraujo_/status/1354216407827951617, and https://calenda.org/838802

[Shown above: Walkway of Mémorial Acte, Guadeloupe.]

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