by Alpesh Kantilal Patel
At Miami Dade College, ‘Where the Oceans Meet’ looks at the ‘creolizing’ of cultural influences across the Americas through the lens of Édouard Glissant and Lydia Cabrera.
Cuban ethnographer Lydia Cabrera is known for her transnational, non-hierarchical and relational approach to the study of Afro-Cuban mythology. This she shared with the influential Martinican philosopher and poet Édouard Glissant, who writes in his 2002 essay, ‘The Unforeseeable Diversity of the World’, that the entire globe ‘is becoming an archipelago and creolizing’. Glissant suggests that creolization – the process of cultural mixing in the islands of the Caribbean as a result of slavery, plantation culture and colonialism – reflects a broader set of sociocultural trends. ‘Where the Oceans Meet’ considers the work of 40 international modern and contemporary artists through the ideas of Cabrera and Glissant at a time when borders are both culturally porous and increasingly politicized.
Raqs Media Collective’s Deep Breath (2019) is a haunting underwater video that literally evokes the ‘oceans’ of the show’s title, taken from the opening sentence of Glissant’s book Une nouvelle région du monde (A New Region of the World, 2006). Scuba divers swim amongst the remains of two shipwrecks on the ocean floor, where the Saronic Gulf meets the Aegean Sea. The divers eventually come upon a series of fluorescent yellow letters that spell out ‘Forgetting of Air’, the title of Luce Irigaray’s 1999 book on the element largely ignored by Western philosophy. In Raqs’s work, it is impossible to take for granted the air we breathe and senselessly pollute.
Read the entire article here: https://frieze.com/article/post-colonial-theorists-who-changed-contemporary-art