Dust Specks on the Sea: Contemporary Sculpture from the French Caribbean & Haiti
June 19–September 18, 2021
516 Arts, Albuquerque
Dust Specks on the Sea: Contemporary Sculpture from the French Caribbean & Haiti features sculptural works by twenty-seven artists from Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Haiti. It was developed at Hunter East Harlem Gallery and is curated by Arden Sherman with Marie Vickles and Katie Hood Morgan. The exhibition presents various approaches to subject matter, materials, and process that speak to contemporary practices by artists of this region, evincing their participation in a globalized art world and putting pressure on who is at its “center” and who is on its “periphery.”
In 1964, French President Charles de Gaulle visited Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana on official state business. Flying over the Caribbean Sea, de Gaulle described the islands as “dust specks on the sea.” His quote evokes an otherworldly aerial view of the Caribbean archipelago, while also revealing a deep-seated hierarchical perspective of the region, stemming from France’s history as a powerful colonizing force in the Caribbean. Dust Specks on the Sea challenges this colonial perception.
The French Caribbean (Guadeloupe, Martinique, and the state of French Guiana) is officially governed by, and is politically, economically, and socially connected to France. In the Greater Antilles, the nation of Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. In 1804, after over a decade of rebellion led by slaves, Haiti gained independence from France and forever changed the history of French sovereignty in the Caribbean.
In Dust Specks on the Sea, this history is undeniably present, but these artists are not bound to making artwork that didactically demonstrates the conditions of the region and its colonial trauma. Rather, they play all fields: expressing their personal relationships to heritage, navigating art-making in the globalized contemporary art world, and looking beyond their cultural background for inspiration and ideas.
516 Arts is a non-collecting contemporary art museum celebrating thought-provoking art in the here and now. It presents relevant exhibitions and public programs, which feature a mix of local, national, and international artists and seeks to inspire curiosity and creative experimentation. Founded in 2006, 516 Arts is committed to providing a dynamic and creative space where people from all walks of life can gather to engage with contemporary art and relevant issues such as climate change, immigration, and social justice.
tues-sat 12-5 pm
516 Central Ave. SW, Albuquerque