Over the last few years my work has investigated the performance of culture, its representations and hybridizations in post-coloniality with a focus on the Caribbean. The region is and has been portrayed frequently as a seductive tropical paradise through exotic stereotypes: typical landscapes, typical people. This does not necessarily include how the region represents itself. Stepping outside of the usual representation of paradise, this series consists of black and white photographs portraying objects that Cubans have either given to me as a gift or are found in their homes (as opposed to objects geared for tourists). These objects become a form of representation of self to self. Although likely perceived kitsch for outsiders, it is considered a model of beauty locally.
This body of work continues the history of artists playing with the divide between high and low art. Taste may have personal elements but the notion of kitsch has a long history of categorizations within socio-economic class, culture and race. Much can be revealed of the person who makes kitsch, the person who possesses kitsch and the person who defines what is kitsch or not.
While this phenomena is not limited to the Caribbean, I choose to examine objects from Cuba, a popular destination for Canadians within the idealized Caribbean tourist space, to question such markers of kitsch as labour-intensity, colour, sentimentality, location (both geographic and site specific), aesthetics and taste, in order to point to the ways in which countries or regions are drawn into these very same categorizations. The hierarchy of perception is troubled by the photographing the objects in such a way as to treat kitsch as high art, by representing local Cuban objects within a North American context, and by placing the photographs in a contemporary art setting, which all point to current geo-political structures.
Documentation of Artist Talk below.