Hunter East Harlem Gallery at the Silberman School of Social Research, Hunter College
November 7, 2018-March 2, 2019
Dust Specks on the Sea focuses on sculptural works by over a dozen contemporary artists from Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guyana, and Haiti and will address the various positionings of the postcolonial condition in this region. The exhibition’s title—Dust Specks on the Sea—is derived from a quote by former French President Charles de Gaulle, describing his view of the French Caribbean islands from an airplane in 1964. De Gaulle’s description speaks to the almost otherworldly mystery of an aerial view of the Caribbean archipelago, while at the same time calling into question a deep-seated hierarchical perspective stemming from France’s history as a powerful colonizing force in the Caribbean. In 1902 the eruption of the volcano Mount Pelée on the island of Martinique, destroyed the town of Saint-Pierre, killing approximately 30,000 people in a matter of minutes. Poignant photographic images of the “worst volcanic disaster of the early 20th century” show the volcano’s dusty plume looming above the sparkling waters of the Caribbean; these visual documents allude to the complex and loaded sentiments of de Gaulle’s quote—the duality of perspective. The French Caribbean cannot be defined solely by its beauty nor by its historical trauma; through this exhibition, we aim to contribute to a contemporary, multi-layered understanding of this region.