[Many thanks to Veerle Poupeye for bringing this item to our attention.] Miguel A. López (Artforum) reviews the latest pairing in The Double Dutch series at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB): Bahamian documentarian and multimedia artist Tamika Galanis and Trinidadian photographer and video artist Rodell Warner.
The Double Dutch series has been one of the most prolific and dynamic programs developed by the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB) in recent years. Begun in 2015, the project aims to bring artists from around the Caribbean archipelago to produce new works in dialogue with Bahamian artists. In a region shaped by inequalities in access to arts education, a lack of museums of contemporary art, and limited infrastructure for direct travel between neighboring islands, the creation of platforms for encounter and exchange is crucial for the growth of a Caribbean cultural ecosystem. [. . .]
For the eighth edition, curators Natalie Willis and Richardo Barrett paired Bahamian documentarian and multimedia artist Tamika Galanis with Trinidadian photographer and video artist Rodell Warner to explore inheritance, ancestry, and testimony. Both artists focused on late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century photographs from the collection of the NAGB. The point of departure of the exhibition was the silk-cotton tree (also known as the ceiba or kapok), one of the oldest and largest species in the tropics, capable of reaching a height of more than eighty feet. These trees, considered sacred both in the Americas and in Africa as the home of duppies, or spirits of the dead—the term is of African origin—were a recurring presence in the archival photographs the artists chose. Playing a key role in the spiritual life of the Caribbean throughout centuries, the kapok was a place for people to connect to their ancestors—enslaved West Africans brought to the region’s European colonies.
Galanis and Warner delved into the silk-cotton tree as a portal. What stories do the roots and branches of these trees keep? How we can see today what century-old photographs fail to register? In his video series “Augmented Archives” (all works 2021), Warner intervened in historical photos. Using digital animation, he introduced bright fractal images floating close to the pictured people like specters made visible at last. These digital spirits resemble organic vegetation—flowers, fungi—as well as marine animals. Warner’s works complicate the experience of documentary photography and the representation of history, creating hybrid narratives in which technology functions as a tool to aid us in rethinking and reconnecting the human, nonhuman, and spiritual worlds. [. . .]
For full article, see https://www.artforum.com/print/reviews/202204/tamika-galanis-and-rodell-warner-88290
[Shown above: Rodell Warner, Augmented Archive 023, 2021, digital video, black-and-white, silent, 32 seconds. From the series “Augmented Archives,” 2021.]