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Caribbean Atlantis

Caribbean Atlantis

Fondation Clément

Parcours Martinique

November- Décember  2008




I always have to remind myself that the real leap involves introducing invention into existence. In the world through which I pass, I am unendingly creating myself.

 Frantz Fanon




Is the Caribbean still that ‘emotional federation’ of which Derek Walcott speaks, a land which is clearly in the process of developing, or has it in fact entered the realms of myth like Atlantis, that fantastical island imagined by Plato and embedded in our literary consciences?

Subject to the inexorable drift of tectonic plates, with uncertain boundaries and jostling expanses of ocean, islands, shores, river mouths, continental fragments and its repeating patchwork of archipelagos, the question is: can its habitants find a common language and a common purpose?

After the terrible tabula rasa of the past, the peoples here have had to recreate, under duress, centres of human activity amid the swirl of migrations and contacts with the outside world. They have also spread out towards new continental destinations in the new and old world. It was also under duress that these isolated islands were incorporated into vaster ensembles, which they still belong to and under whose influence they remain, namely the Hispanic, British and francophone spheres. They remain between these spheres and the rest of the planet, with migrations, the diaspora and happy zones of encounter, but they remain too on the margins of the world as it is today.

The Caribbean of the artists always seems to be in search of itself, because it is rarely understood in all its facets and it is difficult to encompass it.

The most important thing for poets and artists is to work, to create and to invent within a global system whose major cultural priorities are different to their own (1). The islands are of course distant and neglected, and this may lead to a feeling of rejection, oppression and exclusion in the face of major economic imperatives. They are in a transit zone (2) as James Clifford would say, in suspense in a region which is open to the wider world and whose global creolisation they prefigure. But what is it that they are waiting for? What is their next destination?



In the main building where the presence of the last inhabitants remains palpable, the art works, integrated into the furnishings, evoke the genesis, the foundations, the sources, the history and the Amerindian past, the African heritage, the slave era, the irremediable uprooting and loss of an even more profound reality, as well as the geological, climactic and linguistic components of the country. The pieces in this exhibition, reflecting juxtaposition, stratification and superimposition, bear out the phrase of Vargas Llosa: We do not have one identity, we have them all.

The large hangings of Valérie John are the perfect example of an anchored journey. They are born of the crossing of the Atlantic routes, containing within them the deepest of indigos. The faceless family portraits of Ernest Breleur show the forgotten people of the world stage – evanescent figures. Hardly have they been glimpsed and they disappear into a profound darkness which is also transparency. Works which address vanished family memories, disrupted by a random blood-line, and which are strikingly without flesh or bones.

Pour voir les oeuvres entières, cliquer  sur la première image pour démarrer le diaporama 


We live in the world through our body. We feel it, and our flesh, our skin and the hidden flow of our blood correlate with what we know and what we do not know. (4). This is what is conveyed by the works of Jean–François Boclé, Petrona Morisson, Annabel Guerrero, and Raquel Païewonsky. They allow us to hear the Voices of the world and they express the violence of emigration, of the search for the self, of the painful and often conflictual relationship with the Other.

From the outset life is something incarnate, subjective and corporal.


Exhibited in the outlying industrial zone of the former distillery, which has been converted into a Centre d’interprétation, Alex Burke, Julie Bessard, Ernest Breleur and Jean-François Boclé explore these spaces interactively. How to survive or escape from all the violence in the world? These clad hybrids, these precarious abandoned refuges and these imprisoned silhouettes express the human condition. And yet at the same time, can we not see a striving for transcendence…?


1 Frantz Fanon, Peau noire, masques blancs, Paris, le Seuil

2 Homi K. Bahbha, Les lieux de la culture, une théorie postcoloniale, Paris, payot, 2007

3 James Clifford, Malaise dans la civilisation, Paris, Ensb-a 1996

4 Edouard Glissant  Frontières, non limites, in Catalogue Totems, Anabell Guerrero, Atlantica 2006

Dominique Brebion

Michèle-Baj Strobel

Aica Caraïbe du sud







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