In 2015 via announcements made by ExxonMobil, I learned of the offshore exploratory work for potential oil and gas extraction off the Essequibo coast, northwest Guyana in the disputed ocean waters with neighboring Venezuela. This artists presentation will present the artwork Like Gold Dust which was created while on the Artist International Residency at Artpace San Antonio, USA (2019). The artwork evokes narratives about everyday survival, economics, and special powers needed for the 21st century. Its starting point is women’s narratives from two terrains, Guyana and Texas, to explore relationships between environments and present life.
They are, as Wynter suggests, ‘hybrid-auto-instituting-languaging-storytelling species,’ narrating themselves into existence. Slow violence (Nixon, 2011) recognizes efforts by writers, activists and artists including Wynter, Da Silva, Roy, Maathai and Saro-Wiwa who rethink environmental activism for a planetary future. They enact responses to pernicious violations to the terrain and life experiences, particularly those who are disempowered and involuntarily displaced, caused by ecological neglect, corporate greed and colonial aftermath.
Like Gold Dust registers our time of increasing racism, violence, volatility, and the precarity that women of colour (as queer, bisexual or heterosexual figures) are experiencing in the here and now.
In May 2015 ExxonMobil announced the discovery of more than 90 meters of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs about 200 km off its coastline. The Liza-1 well would make it worth $40 billion at today’s international crude price. ExxonMobil followed by discoveries of further oil fields. ExxonMobil and Hess reported that new discoveries contain estimated resources exceeding 4 billion barrels of oil equivalent, potentially producing 750,000 barrels per day by 2025. The value of oil dwarfs the roughly $3 billion gross domestic product of Guyana. As Exxon continues development, the small nation is likely looking at a windfall in royalties. For a country of less than a million people, the find changes everything.
This workshop will take as its starting point my artwork and artistic research for Like Gold Dust (2019) to think about a future currently eclipsed by the COVID pandemic, ecological crises and anti-racism movements.
The workshop will be concerned with the exploration of potential artistic methods that centralizes present and future black Atlantic life experiences in relation to ecological sustainability. In particular, we will explore how central artistic narratives/representations about women and queer bodies as activists may be central to shaping an ecological sustainable world.
The workshop will explore questions such as how we might reimagine futures that consider the black experience as central to the challenges of climate change and ecological precarity. Contextual approaches that refer to Caribbean artists’ work (Atkinson, Patterson, Hadeed, Cozier, Rose, Huggins) and writers/critics (Wynter, Da Silva, Roy, Maathai, Sheller and Demos) will be explored as contributions that map progressive and innovative creativity.
Roshini Kempadoo is a media artist, photographer and scholar. Her research, multimedia and photographic projects combine factual and fictional re-imaginings of contemporary experiences, histories and memories.
Roshini has been active in documenting Caribbean communities, events, rights issues, and individuals in the UK and the Caribbean. She was instrumental in setting up Autograph, the Association of Black Photographers in the late 1980s, and worked as a documentary photographer for Format Picture Agency (1983 – 2003).
Her photography and artworks are created using montage, layering, narration and interactive techniques of production. They appear as photographs and screen-based interactive art installations to fictionalize Caribbean, UK and US archive material, objects, and spaces. She has recently completed the Spring 2019 International Artist-in-Residence @ Artpace, San Antonio, US creating the artwork Like Gold Dust.
She is Reader with CREAM (Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media), at Westminster School of Arts, University of Westminster. She is represented by Autograph ABP, London.
Link to Roshini Kempadoo’s website.