Suffused with the enigma and otherworldliness of dreams, Ghost Island is an endeavour at building visual metaphors and frameworks for understanding the complex dynamics and unseen influences of Caribbean identity and Black imagination.
The basis of this project originates from Lisandro Suriel’s own insular background in Saint Martin – an island in the Caribbean Sea with the South claimed by the Dutch and North claimed by the French. By visually deconstructing New World imagination, his phantasmagoric images serve to dissociate Black Caribbean narratives that of colonialism, generating new possibilities where inhabitants get to express their subjectivity and humanity beyond the White gaze. The work also connotes the island nation’s multifaceted contextual conditions of overlapping histories and immateriality.
To Suriel, the imaginative lens is arguably the best with which to view how folkloric figures act as an agent in history and animate cultural memory. As a document of imagination, the Black subconscious assumes the role of reconfiguring collective memory and reclaiming histories.
The methodology of oral histories and storytelling informs the artistic process, whereby interviews with people serve as a springboard to visual and theoretical research. The objective is to understand both the profane and sacred — how people visualise their ancestors, deities, and folkloric figures.
Ultimately Ghost Island attempts to answer the three fundamental questions that underlie both Suriel’s artistic research practice and his cultural roots: What constitutes a Caribbean/Black identity? How can we imagine this identity? What cognitive tools can be developed to engage with Caribbean/Black identity?
Curated by He Yining