Deborah Jack : History Based Landscapes
Spirits of nature exist in nearly every religious and cultural lore we know – traversing the terrain, there to remind us of the regenerative and also destructive power the land holds. The landscape is a portal through which we can access our histories, our collective joy and also our pain. As we continue to reevaluate and in some cases unlearn the stories we’ve been told about the past, we create space for new truths, new histories, to emerge. It is through this process of regeneration and growth – of constant unearthing – where the subject of Deborah Jack‘s series …the value of water... resides. In this series, Jack expresses the duality intrinsic to natural and human disasters, where the subject is saddled with the burden of ritual, carrying flowers across the land to the sea to honor lives lost. Or is it a celebration of lives lived fully? Only the land knows.
Deborah Jack, (1970) is an artist whose work is based in video/sound installation, photography, painting and text. Her current work deals with trans-cultural existence, memory, the effects of colonialism and mythology through re-memory. As a multi-media artist she engages a variety of strategies for mining the intersections of cultural memory, climate change while negotiating a global present. Her work was recently on view at the Perez Art Museum of Miami in the 2019-2020 exhibition The Other Side of Now: Foresight in Contemporary Caribbean Art. In Fall 2020 she will present a 15-year survey exhibition at Pen & Brush in New York City. Group exhibitions include the traveling exhibition, Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago, which opened at the Museum of Latin American Art in Los Angeles, the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, the Frost Museum at FIU and Portland Museum in Maine. Her work has been exhibited at the 2014 SITE Santa Fe Biennial, Brooklyn Museum, the Jersey City Museum, The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, and Artspace New Haven. Residencies include a Lightwork, the Big Orbit Gallery Summer Residency. Deborah is currently a Professor at New Jersey City University.
…value of water…
“the water between us remembers…”, engages Magical Realism to explore the resonance of historical traumas on nature.
An allegory wherein memory, migration, Trans-Atlantic slavery, borders, and re-generation. The girl is both ancestor and descendent. She is not a ghost, she is the haunting. She appears as a figure in the landscape. Her journey begins inland and she makes her way to shore. She undergoes a transition, through time and distance, until the landscape imprints itself on her body.
Her impulse is to perform this ritual as a form of remembering and re-membering what was lost, traveling across visible and invisible boundaries towards the shore and sea. The flowers are metaphors for both the wounds of history and the beauty of regeneration.
The island represents a place that is both disconnected and connected, both historical and present. What is the weight of the bodies lost at sea and how do bodies on shore honor the loss? What of the bodies lost during the Middle Passage and bodies lost in the current migrant crisis.
Nature regenerates after the trauma and devastation of natural disasters. How do these sites of trauma become sites of healing The journey is the healing. Renewal is survival.
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