The exhibition Caribbean: Crossroads of the World is the culmination of nearly a decade of collaborative research and scholarship organized by El Museo del Barrio in conjunction with the Queens Museum of Art and The Studio Museum in Harlem. Presenting work at the three museums and accompanied by an ambitious range of programs and events, Caribbean: Crossroads offers an unprecedented opportunity to explore the diverse and impactful cultural history of the Caribbean basin and its diaspora. More than 500 works of art spanning four centuries illuminate changing aesthetics and ideologies and provoke meaningful conversations about topics ranging from commerce and cultural hybridity to politics and pop culture.
Counterpoints reflects on the economic developments of the Caribbean, focusing on the shift from plantation systems and commodities such as sugar, tobacco, and banana to the energy and tourism industries, which have had tremendous aesthetic and social impact while proving to be a source of wealth and conflict. Patriot Acts studies the central role that creole culture and notions of hybridity, supported by newly empowered local economic forces, play in the configuration of national and regional discourses of identity, and how artists and intellectuals often pitted traditional, academic aesthetics against the “authentic,” indigenous and African heritages of the Caribbean.
Fluid Motions examines the complexities of the geographical and geopolitical realities of a region made up of islands and coastal areas, connected and separated by bodies of water, where human and natural forces collide, and commercial routes has often camouflaged foreign imperial ambitions. Kingdoms of this World considers the amazing variety of visual systems, languages, cultures and religions that co-exist in the Caribbean, and their role in the development of popular traditions such as syncretic religions, popular music genres, newly created languages, and the carnival.
Shades of History explores the significance of race and its relevance to the history and visual culture of the Caribbean, beginning with the pivotal moment of the Haitian Revolution in 1791. Race is analyzed as a trigger for discussions on human rights, social status, national identity, and beauty. Land of the Outlaw addresses the dual images of the Caribbean as a Utopian place of pleasure and a land of deviance and illicit activity, and how they intertwine in a myriad foundational myths and mediatic stereotypes (from pirates and zombies to dictators and drug smugglers) that are now part of global popular culture.
This landmark project has been over seven years in the making. Research visits and meetings with scholars from all over the Gran Caríbe region have been essential to establishing its scope and themes. The resulting intellectual exchange of culture, artistry, and vision will illuminate the Caribbean region like never before.
PROJECT DIRECTOR Elvis Fuentes, Curator of Special Projects for El Museo del Barrio
CURATORIAL TEAM Edward J. Sullivan, Helen Gould Sheppard Professor, Professor of Art History, lnstitute of Fine Arts, New York University Lowery Stokes Sims, Curator, Museum of Arts and Design, NY Gerald Alexis, Scholar of the lnstitut Canadien de Quebec, and former Minister of Culture in Haiti Yolanda Wood Pujols, Director of the Center for Caribbean Studies, Casa de las Americas, Havana, and Professor of Art History at the School of Arts and Letters, University of Havana.
INSTITUTIONAL CURATORS Deborah Cullen, Director of Curatorial Programs and Exhibitions at El Museo del Barrio Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, Curator at El Museo del Barrio Hitomi lwasaki, Director of Exhibitions at the Queens Museum of Art Naima J. Keith, Assistant Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem
A major accompanying publication, Caribbean: Art at the Crossroads of the World, will serve as a resource for the study of early modern and contemporary Caribbean history, art, and culture. Edited by Deborah Cullen and Elvis Fuentes and co-published by Yale University Press, it features texts by leading scholars, curators, artists and public intellectuals. CONTRIBUTORS INCLUDE: Gerald Alexis, Author of Haitian Painters, former Minister of Culture in Haiti Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, PhD, Curator, El Museo del Barrio Maryse Condé, PhD, Author and Professor Emeritus of French at Columbia University Deborah Cullen, PhD, Director of Curatorial Programs, El Museo del Barrio Elvis Fuentes, Associate Curator for Special Projects, El Museo del Barrio and Caribbean: Crossroads of the World Project Director Hitomi Iwasaki, Director of Exhibitions, Queens Museum of Art, with Herb Tam, Director of Exhibitions, Museum of Chinese in America Katherine Manthorne, PhD, Deputy Executive Officer and Professor, City University of New York Graduate Center Alvaro Medina, Art Historian and Curator, Institute of Aesthetic Research, National University of Colombia Veerle Poupeye, Director, National Gallery of Jamaica Sally and Richard Price, PhDs, Social anthropologists Sergio Ramírez Mercado, Writer, intellectual, and former Vice President of Nicaragua Jennifer Smit, Art Historian and curator, Curaçao; Lowery Stokes Sims, PhD, Curator, Museum of Arts and Design Edward J. Sullivan, PhD, Helen Gould Sheppard Professor, Professor of Art History, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Krista Thompson, PhD, Associate Professor at University of Chicago Yolanda Wood Pujols, Director of the Center for Caribbean Studies, Casa de las Americas, Havana, and Professor of Art History at the School of Arts and Letters, University of Havana
Also included are texts by Alston Barrington Chevannes, Antonio Benítez-Rojo, Ramón Emeterio Betances, David Boxer, Alejo Carpentier, Aimé Césaire, Edouard Glissant, C.L.R. James, V.S. Naipaul and Derek Walcott.The publication is on sale at the gift shops of El Museo del Barrio, Queens Museum of Art, and The Studio Museum in Harlem.
In conjunction with the exhibition Caribbean: Crossroads of the World, El Museo del Barrio, the Queens Museum of Art and The Studio Museum in Harlem presented a three-day symposium bringing together scholars and practitioners from across the Caribbean and its diaspora.
Presenting Sponsor is MetLife Foundation. Leadership Support provided by FORD FOUNDATION. Major Support provided by The Reed Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment of the Arts; Agnes Gund; Bacardi USA; Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam; Christie’s, Inc.; Maduro & Curiel’s Bank N.V.; Tony Bechara; Ramón and Nercys Cernuda; The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation; Dr. Blas A. Reyes; Jacqueline L. Curiel; Susan R. Delvalle; Elena de Murias; Benjamin Ortiz; and Victor Torchia, Jr.
The exhibition publication is supported by The Dedalus Foundation and Patricia & Howard Farber Foundation. The exhibition and related programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; Speaker Christine Quinn and the New York City Council; Institut Français; the Netherlands Cultural Services; and the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.
NYC & Company is the lead media partner for this exhibition. Additional media sponsorship is provided by Cablevision; MTA NYC Transit; WABC-TV; and WXTV Univision 41. Special thanks to ARC Magazine; Art Experience: New York City; Bomb; Christie’s, Inc.; Flavorpill; and Urban Latino for their additional media support.