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Joscelyn E. Gardner
Born: October 6, 1961
Veronica frutescens (Mazerine)
Detail of "Veronica frutescens (Mazerine)"
hand-painted stone lithograph on frosted mylar 36” x 24”
Date:2009, Location: Artist\'s collection
Part of a suite of lithographs entitled “bringing down the flowers…” which aims to subvert 18th century documentation practices. A series of inverted heads with Afro-centric hairstyles are embedded with iron collars and tropical plant specimens in order to allude to the punishable practice of ‘natural\' abortion used by slave women as a form of protest against slavery.
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Using artifacts found in museum collections as a source for examining social narratives on 18th and 19th century Caribbean plantations, my visual practice probes the construction of female Creole identity from a postcolonial feminist perspective. Working primarily with printmaking and site-specific multimedia installation, I aim to subvert methods of documentation used by artists and writers to record Atlantic culture in order to point to the colonial construction of this identity as Other and assert a space for the multiple female subjectivities not recognized in the ‘official’ (male) historical canon.

My visual practice negotiates a legitimate space for my own (white) Creole female voice. I reclaim the historical use of the cultural term, ‘Creole’ (someone born in the Caribbean), to define (white) identity in the contemporary Caribbean and to complexify this identity as being unique from, though related to, (white) Western identity, through its intertwined historical bond with black identity. By exploring the hybrid identity of Caribbean whites, I show that a shared geopolitical and cultural history can shape identity beyond the confines of the assumed racial determinants in established Western theory. Though grounded in the Caribbean’s historical / cultural specificity, my project points to the wider issue of white Western postcolonial guilt and aims to subvert the notion that colonialism’s effects are solely an issue of the Other.

White Skin Black Kin

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