Genesis Between the Teeth of Mangroves 

Integral in the discovery and colonization of ‘the New World’, Natural History is a problem of origin. Eurocentric rendering, naming, classification, ordering, narration, and imagination of Caribbean land has created (mis)representations of the Caribbean through Western ways of knowing. These narrations were conceived of in the language of empire, perpetually repeating and oscillating in Western semantics since their first conceptions. The naturalized hierarchies, dominance, and violence (physical, discursive, taxonomic, epistemic) have created static images of the Caribbean in the contexts of consumption, conquest, simplification, service, passivity, exploitation, expansion, infantilization, commodification, domination, and dehumanization.

The surface reading of the Caribbean is through traditions of Natural History, however behind the external picturesque there lie Caribbean codes (Antonio Benítez-Rojo), masked messages, and subversive communication, located in the subaltern and symbolic, rather than the visible and literal. The most visible reading (the surface) is externally directed toward the historic Western gaze, while the hidden meaning (the subaltern) is located interally in Caribbeanness and creoleness; this is the double performance, the appearance and essence, a representation containing another representation. The allegory-landscapes are embodiments of internality masquerading as externality, diffracted and recomposed in the image of creolization.

Creolization is a subversive concept linked to the subaltern, its manifestations and representations are “located in a space above and beyond” what is simply visible (Álvaro Medina); the subversive core idea is obscured through multiple layers while simultaneously hiding in full sight. Creolitzation manifests itself through plurality, fluidity, openness, diversalité, secrecy, ambiguity, multiplicity, multivocality, multi-layering, transition, transformation, reversals, mimicry, double-talk, feigned submission, carnivalization, improvisation, obfuscation, confusion, masking, revealing, camouflage, doubling, diffraction, recomposition, and complexity

Through various manifestations of Caribbean land, I have created aesthetic arguments and polysemic embodiments of resistance/creation in allegorical images of reclamation; where colonial perceptions are destabilized, mocked, revised, and subverted. Freed from the exterior gaze, internality “washes our eyes” (Jean Bernabé), cannibalizing, carnivalizing, and creolizing the colonial narrations and imagery that attempt to map the Caribbean.It is the reconfiguration of colonial discourse into new polyrhythmic languages that break into light: jouvert morning. 


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