Unsovereign Elements: Geological Poetics in Contemporary Art from the Caribbean and its Diaspora
Exhibit on display March 30 - May 10 at Kelly Writers House
Caribbean cultural products and critical approaches are highly permeated by submarine, geological and atmospheric aesthetics, too often enclosed within frameworks of unavoidable catastrophe or fetishized tropicalism that posit the geological as either a destructive or a picturesque force. Starting with colonization and the invention of the Americas, geological elements were relegated—and still seem to be—to a fossilized backdrop status, defined and configured by modernity as epistemological vacuums, decorative backdrops, or disaster vectors whose sole purpose was to be traversed, extracted from and commodified.
Unsovereign Elements is a multimodal group exhibition featuring 11 women artists that examines the ambiguous role of geological elements in the (re)production of the Caribbean archipelago--certainly exhausted by modernity as discursive instruments, yet always retaining a poetic potential that far exceeds their materiality. Drawing from these ideas as starting point, the exhibition establishes the notion of “unsovereignty” and the “unsovereign” as an open category for every body of flesh, of nature, and of knowledge whose power resides not in its figurative and conceptual agency, but in its ecological and relational agency.
The exhibition will be on view from March 30 to May 10 at Kelly Writers House and Slought Art Foundation, and the project is also featuring a symposium as a space for discussion where academic, curatorial, and artistic perspectives on the Caribbean and its diaspora are in conversation, as well as screenings and workshops with the artists.
This project would not have been possible without the support from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese (UPenn), the Brodsky Gallery, Kelly Writers House, the GAPSA-Provost Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Innovation, the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH), the Center for Latin American and Latinx Studies (CLALS), the Center for Experimental Ethnography (CEE), the Center for Africana Studies (CAS), the Wolf Humanities Center, the Price Lab for Digital Humanities, and the Writers House Student Initiatives Fund.
Join us on Thursday, March 30 at 6pm for the opening of Unsovereign Elements, a group exhibition curated by Cecilia González Godino, Graduate Fellow at the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities.
Featuring artists from the Caribbean and its diaspora, this exhibition examines the ambiguous role of geological elements in the (re)production of the archipelago--certainly exhausted by modernity as discursive instruments, yet always retaining a poetic potential that far exceeds their materiality.
Come meet the artists in conversation with Caribbean and Archipelago Studies scholar Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel (U of Miami), followed by a reception!
This event is free and open to the public. Please register here. For more information about this event and/or the exhibition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us on Wednesday, April 12 for a Working Wednesday with Cecilia González Godino about the exhibit.
This exhibit is curated by PPEH Graduate Fellow Cecilia González Godino.