White Skin, Black Kin: “Speaking the Unspeakable”, an intervention into four of the art and historical galleries at the Barbados Museum, St. Ann’s Garrison, St. Michael, Barbados, was held in February / March 2004, and again in May, 2004. In this exhibition, multi-media artist, Joscelyn Gardner used intervention strategies to engage the past allegorically from a postcolonial feminist perspective. In particular, she inserted moving images and sound into the existing Gallery installations as a way of alluding to the multiple (female) subjectivities not recognized in the “official” (male) historical canon. In speaking to the lives of (black and white) Creole women who have perhaps been overlooked in the reconstruction of our history, her work seeks to draw out the relationships between these members of the plantation Great House. Using the historical language of (patriarchal / colonial) inscribed portraiture, she “re-creates” her own vision of the past and thereby unlocks the shared realities of Creole women and points to a new / different understanding of Caribbean culture. In her work, she rejects a single absolute authoritative voice to reveal the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) falsehoods and contradictions of Caribbean society. Rather than a black and white dichotomy, she suggests a shared history of many shades.
A catalogue with texts by Alissandra Cummins, Joscelyn Gardner, Gabrielle Hezekiah, and Charmaine Nelson was published to accompany the exhibition. A panel discussion chaired by Kathleen Drayton, with panelists Annalee Davis, Joscelyn Gardner, Charmaine Nelson, Evelyn O’Callaghan, and Pedro Welch was held on May 19, 2004, to examine the implications of the exhibition to racial/ gender/ postcolonial discourses on the island. The texts from both the catalogue and the panel discussion are published on this website along with a sampling of images and sounds from the intervention. Introductory pages to each of the Galleries are followed by images associated with the work in that gallery.
Joscelyn Gardner is a visual artist working primarily with printmaking and multi media installation whose practice focuses on her (white) Creole identity from a postcolonial feminist perspective. She was born in Barbados in 1961 to a family that has been resident on the island since the seventeenth century and spent her early childhood in South America, West Africa, and the Caribbean. She later received her secondary education at Queen’s College in Barbados where she won a 1980 Barbados Scholarship for academic excellence. She holds a B.F.A. (Printmaking) and a B.A. (Film) from Queen’s University, Canada, and an M.F.A. from the University of Western Ontario. While resident in Barbados, she taught art at the Barbados Community College (1987-1999), founded and directed the Art Foundry galleries (1996-1999), and worked actively on many committees including the Art Collection Foundation, the Barbados Gallery of Art, the National Art Gallery Committee, and the Barbados Museum Council. Since 2000, Gardner has been working and residing in Canada where she teaches art at the University of Western Ontario and at Fanshawe College, in London, Ontario. She has represented Barbados in many international exhibitions including the Sao Paulo Biennials (1994, 1996), has held solo exhibitions in the Caribbean region, Canada, and the U.S.A., and has exhibited in group shows in Europe, U.S.A., Canada, the Caribbean, South and Central America, and India. In 2005, she was awarded a Canada Council for the Arts international residency grant at Caribbean Contemporary Arts in Trinidad and continues to work on a project there. In 2006, she attended the KHOJ Kolkata International Artists’ Workshop in India. Her work will be included in a major exhibition of contemporary Caribbean Art at the Brooklyn Museum in 2007-8.