Widline Cadet: “Se Sou Ou Mwen Mete Espwa m”

For those of you in New York, there are just two more days to see Haitian-born Widline Cadet’s “Se Sou Ou Mwen Mete Espwa m (I Put All My Hopes on You).” It is on view at Deli Gallery (36 White Street, Manhattan, New York) through August 13, 2021.

Description: Deli Gallery is pleased to present Se Sou Ou Mwen Mete Espwa m (I Put All My Hopes On You), Widline Cadet’s first solo exhibition and the gallery’s debut exhibition at 36 White Street. Drawing from personal history, Cadet’s practice examines race, memory, immigration, and Haitian cultural identity within the United States. Through photographs, videos, and installations, Cadet constructs a visual language that explores the racial and cultural tensions and identity shifts that occur with displacement.

The exhibition consists of self-portraits (some solitary, and some with others performing as Cadet’s double), portraits of family members, still lives, and landscapes influenced by personal and cultural signifiers. Acting as a visual loop, the constellation of photographs fit together loosely to render a world that dwells in between the slippage of Cadet’s memories of a former self in a former life in Haiti and her present sense of self as a Black woman immigrant in America.

Continuing Cadet’s interest in examining her family’s settlement in America, a new series of compound framed works function as physical manifestations of Cadet’s family’s pursuit of the American dream. In them, Cadet highlights a range of markers that signal the fulfillment of that dream, things parents brag about to the rest of the family: their children buying a big house with the white picket fence, achieving a certain degree of schooling and education, giving birth to new generations of American kids, and owning a piece of American soil to pass down to future American generations.

In her images, Cadet collapses time through the inclusion of family snapshots, some captured by her in recent years, others by unidentified photographers decades ago. She travels between the past, the present, and an imagined future and investigates family histories—questioning what she remembers, what really happened, and what she’s imagined in order to fill the gaps in between. At the same time Cadet also examines the limits of these family images in her re-tracing attempts as an image only codifies a single moment. How much does one project upon a single moment they may or may not remember? And how does this tentative understanding dictate one’s path forward?

Widline Cadet is a recipient of a 2013 Mortimer-Hays Brandeis Traveling Fellowship, a 2018 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture artist in resident, a 2019 Lighthouse Works fellow, a 2019 Syracuse University VPA Turner artist in resident, a 2020 Lit List finalist, the 2020 Museum of Contemporary Photography’s Snider Prize winner, and a recipient of a 2020 NYFA / JGS Fellowship in photography. Her work has been featured in The New Yorker, TIME Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Financial Times, Wallpaper* among others. She earned her B.A. in studio art from The City College of New York and MFA from Syracuse University. She is currently based in NYC and is a 2020-21 artist in residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem.

For more information, see https://deligallery.com/Widline-Cadet

[Photo above: Widline Cadet, “Nou Fè Pati, Nou Se, Nou Anvi (We Belong, We be, We Long)” (2020), archival inkjet print, artist frame, 32 × 40 × 2 inches (all images courtesy the artist and Deli Gallery).]

Also see previous post (review) https://repeatingislands.com/2021/08/11/a-photographers-otherworldly-portrayal-of-creolite/

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