Exhibition

27 August – 15 November 2020
ONE MONTH AFTER BEING KNOWN IN THAT ISLAND

Elisa Bergel Melo, Seasons, Cyanotype print on paper, 127 ✕ 122 cm, 2020

Curated by Yina Jiménez Suriel and Pablo Guardiola
A project by Caribbean Art Initiative (CAI)

Featured Artists
Ramón Miranda Beltrán, Minia Biabiany, Christopher Cozier, Sharelly Emanuelson, Nelson Fory Ferreira, Tessa Mars, Elisa Bergel Melo, José Morbán, Tony Cruz Pabón, Madeline Jiménez Santil, and Guy Régis Jr.
Special Edition: Ramiro Chaves

One month after being known in that island”, which was commissioned by the Caribbean Art Initiative (CAI), is the inaugural exhibition in the newly opened space of the Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger in central Basel. Founded in 2019, the CAI connects and collaborates with creative individuals and groups around the world to raise awareness about the rich and diverse Caribbean artistic and cultural scene.

The curatorial team of Yina Jiménez Suriel and Pablo Guardiola were chosen through an open-call process limited to curators living or born in the Caribbean region who are actively working with Caribbean art and artists. The exhibition has allowed them to share their vision of the Caribbean and present this complex and rich artistic landscape to a Swiss audience, in the first exhibition of its kind in the country.

Jiménez Suriel and Guardiola used the Treaty of Basel as an entry point for the exhibition, underscoring the historical link between the city of Basel and the Caribbean. Drafted in 1795, the Treaty of Basel marked the formal termination of the two-year war between the First French Republic and the Spanish monarchy. Encompassing seventeen articles, it provided for the redistribution of various regions, including granting two-thirds of what was then Hispaniola to France. Signed in the neutral territory of Basel, Switzerland, the treaty was one of numerous instances in which colonial Caribbean territory was redistributed without consideration of the peoples involved and directly affected. Echoing Édouard Glissant and Kamau Brathwaite, who used the term créolité to promote a forward-thinking and inclusive approach to the Caribbean as whole, Jiménez Suriel and Guardiola bring together artists who break with the imposed cultural expectations. Their interpretation of créolité establishes a new reference point, creating a fluid point of departure and demonstrating new possible readings and understanding of the vibrant Caribbean region.

The eleven featured artistic positions, stemming from different regions in the Caribbean, illustrate how notions of cultural emancipation and the long shadow of colonial rule are being interpreted by regional and diasporic artists working today. The works included in the exhibition range from site-specific newly commissioned installations, such as Madeline Jiménez Santil’s The construction of the strange, to Ramon Miranda’s Culture Dwelling to video presentations such as Toli Toli by Minia Biabiany.

Nearly half of the featured artists took the opportunity to produce new artworks, including paintings by Tessa Mars, drawings by José Morbán and Christopher Cozier, an installation by Elisa Bergel Melo, and an audio work by Guy Régis Jr. Works by Nelson Fory Ferreira, Sharelly Emanuelson, and Tony Cruz Pabón will be having their European debut in this show.

The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive public program, including films, talks, and podcasts, as well as weekly public tours.

The dialogue between Basel and the Caribbean will extend beyond Switzerland, as the public programs will take place both in Basel and select cities in the Caribbean. Details will be announced in mid-August.