Contemporary sculpture from the French Caribbean & Haiti
Dust Specks on the Sea focuses on sculptural works by over a dozen contemporary artists from Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Haiti and addresses 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.
The exhibition was generated by Hunter East Harlem Gallery at Hunter College in NYC, an institution dedicated to creating projects that build on the complicated circumstances of being a human in today’s world and bolstering the voices of creative people and thinkers. Through presenting a sculpture-based exhibition in a distinctive way—in many cases, the artworks will physically interact with one another, we hope to build a visual dialogue about how artwork can be one of the most powerful tools for personal and political expression.
Dust Specks on the Sea: Contemporary Sculpture from the French Caribbean & Haiti is curated by Arden Sherman with Katie Hood Morgan and Marie Vickles. The exhibition is organized by the Hunter East Harlem Gallery, New York City, and made possible by the generous support provided by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States and Hunter College. Additional sponsorship provided by the Directions of Cultural Affairs of Martinique and of Guadeloupe, FACE Foundation, and Chiquita Banana.
February 6 to April 2, 2022
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut St.
San Francisco, US 94133