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Untitled (with new flag for Martinique)

Frantz Fanon made a distinction between 

“flag-independence” and “real-independence”. 

This flag I made, clutch, and wave may not hold weight on the scale of freedom, I say.

But it carries the weight of hope and might suffice for they who wish not to fight, but be passed the plate of liberty. It carries the semblance of tradition, bearing the colors of hands joined across the the diaspora carrying its children. The wind agrees and we try, to see what "real-independence" looks like. I run with it, I plant it on a mountain moved, out in the open where all can see, themselves in me.

These actions took place at La Savane des Pétrifications, Martinique 2017

All photos by: jb barret except where noted

photo: nyugen e. smith
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A New Flag the the Caribbean /

A Flag for the New Caribbean 

(Private Collection)

DESIGN

 

The designs for this work was inspired by  the Tuesday, June 13, 2017, lecture by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI), delivered at the seventh Annual George Lamming Distinguished Lecture at The UWI Cave Hill Campus’ Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI) in Barbados. Vice-Chancellor Beckles spoke on the theme "Britain’s Perfect Caribbean Crime: Ignored Genocide, Faked Emancipation, Insincere Independence, and No Reparations". African spiritual and societal practices and customs, the history of East Indians in the Caribbean, and the indigenous people of the region have also informed elements of the designs.

 

The elements of the lecture that has driven the concepts are:

  1. The seven Black/Caribbean claims for reparations

  2. The ten-point reparation plan devised by the Caricom Reparations Commission


 

 

PRODUCTION

The flag is hand sewn (double-sided) at 60” width x 40” height. A limited edition of  ten flags with a slightly modified design were screen printed (single-sided) at 18” width x 24” height.


COLORS

White - at its most complete and pure, the color of perfection, innocence, wholeness and completion.

 

Red -Danger - Passion, Excitement & Energy action, ambition and determination. It is also the color of anger and sexual passion.                                                           

Black - Sophisticated, Formal, Luxurious & Sorrowful. It is the color of the hidden, the secretive and the unknown, creating an air of mystery.

Gold- is the color of success, achievement and triumph. Associated with abundance and prosperity, luxury and quality, prestige and sophistication, value and elegance, the color psychology of gold implies affluence, material wealth and extravagance.


Performing the Flag
Performance with A New Flag for the Caribbean / A New Flag for the Caribbean- in collaboration with Dominique Duroseau as Mama Blackness at the Brooklyn Museum
2017

photo: pascal bernier
Performing the Flag
Performance with A New Flag for the Caribbean / A New Flag for the Caribbean- in collaboration with Dominique Duroseau as Mama Blackness at the Brooklyn Museum
2017

photo: jason colbert
Performing the Flag
Performance with A New Flag for the Caribbean / A New Flag for the Caribbean- in collaboration with Dominique Duroseau as Mama Blackness at the Brooklyn Museum

photo: pascal bernier
Performing the Flag
Performance with A New Flag for the Caribbean / A New Flag for the Caribbean- in collaboration with Dominique Duroseau as Mama Blackness at the Brooklyn Museum

photo: pascal bernier
Performing the Flag
Performance with A New Flag for the Caribbean / A New Flag for the Caribbean- in collaboration with Dominique Duroseau as Mama Blackness at the Brooklyn Museum

photo: pascal bernier
Performing the Flag
Performance with A New Flag for the Caribbean / A New Flag for the Caribbean- in collaboration with Dominique Duroseau as Mama Blackness at the Brooklyn Museum

photo: pascal bernier
Caribbean Women with the flag
photo: nyugen e. smith
Performing the Flag
Performance with A New Flag for the Caribbean / A New Flag for the Caribbean- in collaboration with Dominique Duroseau as Mama Blackness at the Brooklyn Museum at the Brooklyn Museum

photo: pascal bernier
Making the Flag
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ELEMENTS

 

Numbers - The numbers 7 (The seven Black/Caribbean claims for reparations) and 10 (The ten-point reparation plan devised by the Caricom Reparations Commission)

appear on the flags and are represented by the number of stars, waves and petals on the lotus flower

 

Lotus flower - The Lotus flower, the national flower India has been included to acknowledge the Indo-Caribbean population in the region.

The flower is also a sacred flower in Buddhism which is one of the major religions in India and China. The flower thus also recognizes the Chinese descendants in the region. The flower, for the ancient Egyptians is a symbol of rebirth, a symbol for the sun and creation. Its placement connotes a crown and one that is vastly different from a Eurocentric  

 

Stars - symbolizes light from the past who are our ancestors that still are present and guide us. They represent the passion with which they have fought systems of oppression and slavery and stand as warning against those with ill intentions. One gold star is the keeper of the treasures that are natural resources and sacred knowledge

 

Mask - The masks is comprised of two sets of five waves symbolizing the bodies of water that surround the island nations and the continent of Africa. One is inverted to rest atop the other and form a mask-like image resembling the Kifwebe mask of the Luba people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kifwebe masks participated in initiations and played a role in establishing order in society. Round striated Luba kifwebe function within  practices that purify the community of the evil spirits of sorcerers. In performance, this mask was complemented by a costume ensemble comprising woven textiles, animal pelts, and plant fibers, which covered the dancer’s body. The two sets of waves also come together as a liddled vessle. Yoruba traditions conceive of the cosmos as a lidded vessel, usually a gourd or a wooden bowl. Its two sections define the interconnected worlds of the living and the ancestors and spirits.

The inclusion of a “mask” also pays homage to the indigenous people of the Caribbean, such as the Tianos, Caribs, and Macorix.


Wave - wave at the bottom of the flag is taken from one of the lines in the “mask”. This wave symbolizes 1) the bodies of water in the region 2) the horizon where the sky and earth meet, subsequently placing all of the other elements of the flag in the sky.

Flag for Naborea

This flag was commissioned by Kavita Shah for her original work and performance titled Folk Songs of Naboréa. The concept of the post-apocalyptic society called Naboréa, and the ideas related to my Bundlehouse series made this a fitting collaboration. 

Folk Songs of Naboréa is an interdisciplinary work by vocalist, composer, and ethnographer Kavita Shah that imagines the folk music of a futuristic, post-nuclear society in which humans have abandoned technology and national and racial identities have eroded. Tracing the agro-religious, celebratory, and commemorative rituals of Naboréa, this piece incorporates elements of jazz improvisation, extended vocal techniques, “world music,” movement, and performance art. Embedded in the folk songs of Naboréa are remnants of the past—some distinguishable, some faint—and with them, the memory of collective loss and the promise of future regeneration. 

“Folk Songs of Naboréa” first premiered in November 2017 at the Park Avenue Armory, and it was named by NPR as one of the Top 10 concerts of 2017. 

Video: Behind the scenes 

Flag for Naboréa
Fabric, canvas, felt, tarp and tassels.
2018
Flag for Naboréa (folded)
Fabric, canvas, felt, tarp and tassels.
2018
Flag for Naboréa (Rubin Museum, NYC)
Fabric, canvas, felt, tarp and tassels.
2018
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Flag for Naboréa

Fabric, canvas, felt, tarp and tassels. 2018