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Image cover by Nadja Schöllhammer, Sekretariat, 2003 (Detail)
Courtesy of the artist and Art Labour Archives

COSMPOLITAN CARIBBEAN

by Manuel García

Art critic and curator

Just a few years ago, the field of contemporary Latin American art could claim only about half a dozen essayists: Damián Bayón, Luis Cardoza Aragón, Jorge Glusberg, Jorge Romero Brest, Raquel Tibol, Marta Traba, and a few others. In a sense, the Buenos Aires-Mexico City axis had a monopoly on theoretical thought in the Latin American visual arts scene. The dawning of the third millennium, though, ushering in the Latin American Forums of Meiac de Badajoz – directed by Gerardo Mosquera – and the Diálogos Iberoamericanos – co-directed by Fernando Castro and Kevin Power – , has permitted us to familiarize ourselves with the new Latin American essayists in the arts: Gustavo Buntinx, Olivier Debroise, Ticio Escobar, Ivo Mesquita, Cuauhtémoc Medina, Iván de la Nuez, Justo Pastor Mellado, José Roca, Ana Tiscornia, and others, many of whom are included in the anthology Critical Thought in New Latin American Art, edited by Kevin Power (2006).

I think it’s important to situate Alanna Lockward in this context. Author of the book Apremio: Apuntes sobre el pensamiento y la creación contemporánea desde el Caribe (Pressure: Notes on Thought and Contemporary Creation from the Caribbean) (Cendeac, Murcia, 2006), Lockward is a Dominican art critic, cultural journalist, and curator of exhibitions who has been professionally active in Santo Domingo, Port-au-Prince, Miami, New York, and now Berlin.

The book Apremio is an anthology of diverse texts drawn from Dominican (Cariforum, El Listín Diario), American (The Miami Herald), and Spanish (Atlántica) publications throughout the past ten years. It is not a book about art as such; rather, it is an entire repertoire of catalogue texts, newspaper interviews, and profiles of Caribbean writers, filmmakers, dancers, poets, artists, and others.

Given that Caribbean thought – from art critic Guy Pérez Cisneros to essayist Edouard Glissant and including José Lezama Lima’s writings on art – is little known in the European cultural context, Alanna Lockward’s anthology is welcome indeed.

As an essayist, the author is at her most convincing when writing on contemporary Dominican art (“Los Noventa en Santo Domingo. Un Anecdotario” [“The Nineties in Santo Domingo: A Collection of Anecdotes]”), African art (“La era de la Negritud” [“The Era of Négritude”]), and Caribbean art (“Caribe X-céntrico” [“Caribbean X-centric”] and “Monedas al Aire” [“Coins in the Air”]); these essays reveal comprehensive knowledge, commitment, and discernment regarding a topic that she has studied extensively, critiqued, and taken responsibility for as curator of exhibitions (for example, Pares & Nones. Fotografía Contemporánea de Haití y República Dominicana [Evens & Odds: Contemporary Photography from Haiti and the Dominican Republic]). Particularly lucid is her critique of the exhibition Caribbean Visions (1995) at the Center for Fine Arts (now the Miami Art Museum), denouncing reductionist readings of Caribbean art made from a “gringo” point of view: “This ambitious curatorial and museographic effort is, without a doubt, rife with documentary inconsistencies, phantasmagoric apparitions and interpretive errors”. One cannot argue with the author once she reveals that the contemporary selection of the exhibit was limited to José Bedia, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Edouard Duval-Carrié, José García Cordero and Arnaldo Roche Rabell, omitting, for example, Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Her position regarding Haitian-Dominican culture enlightens in a recent interview: “It proves quite symptomatic that in the Dominican Republic there has been no critical reflection on the long trajectory of Dominican-Haitian thematics in the works of our artists.”

Another topic of interest to the essayist is the visibility of Dominican culture both on the island itself (Santo Domingo, Santiago de los Caballeros, Puerto Plata, etc.), and in New York, the second largest city in the world in terms of Dominican population after the capital city, Santo Domingo. Her intention to raise the visibility of Dominican creationthrough historical moments and across geographical spaces allows Alanna Lockward to trace a common thread between the contributions offashion designer Oscar de la Renta in New York, dancer Juan Fidel Mieses in Santo Domingo, the legendary Henriquez Ureña family (responsible for the tethering of the Dominican and Cuban cultures), and legendary personalities such as the poet Pedro Mir, born in San Pedro de Macoría to a Cuban father and a Puerto Rican mother, who tells us: “Well, I am the child of two Antilles, and I was born in a third.”

Also outstanding is Lockward’s commitment to gender issues at large; her interview with Dominican writer Chiqui Vicioso stands out in particular, in which she quite rightly exposes the dismissive European notion of Caribbean women as “exotic”, affirming: “All Caribbean women, apart from being ‘pajonúas’ [natural hair advocates], ‘nymphomaniacs,’ and great in bed, also write interesting literature”.

It is surprising, nonetheless, that the “Profiles” section of the book contains no specific portraits of Dominican artists with international stature, such as Tony Capellán, Marcos Lora-Read and Jorge Pineda, who are cited in passing (“The Nineties in Santo Domingo”) but have not been allotted their own texts.

The self-assertion of the culture of the Antilles, of the so-called “insular Caribbean”, is present throughout this anthology of texts by Alanna Lockward, a writer whose cultural discourse compares to the likes of art critics Marianne de Tolentino, Danilo de los Santos and Sarah Hermann, but with a somewhat more cosmopolitan dimension; this is quite understandable, considering that her extensive nomadic trajectory has now led her to pursue a doctoral degree in the Department of American Studies in the Faculty of Philosophy of Berlin’s Humboldt University.

(Translated from the Spanish by Amari Barash)

Published with permission of the author. First edition: Exit-Book, a biannual review of books on art and visual culture, No. 8. Madrid 2008.

Also reviewed by Ineke Phaf-Rheinberger. In: Iberoamericana 23. América Latina-España- Portugal. Ensayos sobre letras, historia y sociedad. Notas. Reseñas iberoamericanas. Madrid-Berlin 2006. P. 270-272.

Iberoamericana 23-indice_notas

Apremio. Apuntes sobre el pensamiento y la creación contemporánea desde el Caribe. CENDEAC, Murcia 2006. 212 pages.

Out of print, available in selected libraries.

INDEX

Adbreviatum. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

DESDE SANTO DOMINGO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Ensayos y reseñas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Los noventa en Santo Domingo: Un anecdotario. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Una selección personal de pintura contemporánea dominicana . . . . . . . 23

Pares & nones: Igualdad in-visible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

Perfiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  45

Pedro Mir: fruto de la casualidad. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

Oscar de la Renta y el arte dominicano del Siglo XX. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49

Juan Fidel Mieses y la atención sostenida. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

La fortuna de llamarse René . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59

Luis Nova: Ser o no ser Dominican-York. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63

Henriette Wiese: “Es duro ver llorar a un hombre, pero es más duro

ver llorar a un guerrillero” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69

El cine dominicano es cosa de… Jaime Piña. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

Género. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

Con letra de mujer: la historia de las primeras periodistas

dominicanas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81

El género, el arte y el fin de milenio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

Las cumbres de Salomé . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91

Chiqui Vicioso: las mujeres debemos superar el recelo antológico. . . .97

DESDE EL CARIBE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .103

Ensayos Y Reseñas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105

Edouard Glissant en un mar de tolerancia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .107

La era de la Negritud: The Short Century, Independence and

Liberation Movements in África 1945-1994 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .111

Caribe X-céntrico . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .123

Monedas al aire: el Caribe insular en la 7.a Bienal de La Habana . . 131

África y su diáspora en la 49.a Bienal de Venecia . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137

Visión distorsionada del Caribe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143

Perfiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .147

Carlos Betancourt, cenizas en Nirvana. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149

Edouard Duval-Carrié: “Todos en el Caribe ven Haití como el horror

posible que no son todavía” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151

DESDE OTRO LADO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157

Ensayos y reseñas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .159

Manos a la obra: La competencia del objeto en la 51 Bienal de

Venecia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161

Dalí en la Feria Mundial de Nueva York de 1939 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .167

Sobre la verdadera autonomía del libre albedrío. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .173

Festival de estereotipos: Los nuevos hebreos, 100 años de arte en

Israel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .177

The Black Atlantic, paradojas y aciertos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181

Las identidades del vértigo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .183

A ritmo pausado y consistente: Cadena de aperturas de nuevos

espacios para el arte contemporáneo en Alemania. . . . . . . . . . . .189

Nadja Schöllhammer: Una arena para ella sola. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195

Andrea Lehmann: Aquí y allá. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .199

Mariana Vassileva: La niñez es un estado latente . . . . . . . . . . . .203

Cambiar lo que decimos: Permutaciones recientes en la obra de

Elsa Mora. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205

Nicolás Dumit Estévez: La seducción en la estética del instante. 209

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One thought on “Cosmopolitan Caribbean

  1. Alanna !!!!

    Es para mi un orgullo ! ver a mi amiga y hija por eleccion, lograr su sueno!
    Bravo !!! continua siguiendo tu Norte, es dificil luchar por un sueno, pero cuando logras alcanzarlo
    es facil mantenerte en el camino .

    Felicidades !!! y viva la Republica Dominicana !!!
    Que te vio nacer y te dio toda la materia prima para ser quien eres !!!

    Te quiere,
    Ana Rodriguez.

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