The Saltwater Project
I spent several months travelling around the entire island collecting sea water from each coast which I then distilled to obtain its salt. This salt was used to cover my body in an act of preservation and healing while the audience read the poem 'My Paradise Paradox'.
In the live performance two people volunteered to baptize themselves with me in an act of claiming the island and healing generational trauma. The baptism allows one to establish one’s place in paradise on their own terms without ignoring that the past has dictated how we have grown and we are threatened by a future which we have little control over.
Through the act of adorning with salt (a preservative) those who baptized themselves immortalized that present moment of their being and their relationship with the island.
My Paradise Paradox
Spoken component of “Who owns the island!?” performance
The dirt; the DNA of this land we occupy.
The clay; a migratory sediment, a settler.
Transported by water, deposited elsewhere and left to settle.
Then dug up and made a vessel to carry that water.
Our bodies, like clay, immigrating and settling - a vessel carrying trauma and healing.
Most clay minerals form where rocks are in contact with water, air, or steam
Our bodies the rocks, the sea the water.
From chalky mount hills, the rock - the body, breaks down to form clay to be rebirthed by the
hands to a vessel of extreme longevity.
So be, the afro Caribbean body.
A solution, a homogenous mixture of two substances where one substance has dissolved the
Salt in water.
Together deadly if consumed in excess, but apart? two elements vital for human survival.
The sea; the idyllic marker of paradise. The facilitator of our arrival.
Shining bright like flowers in full bloom across an unmarked burial.
The sea bed; the resting place of many of our ancestors, many dreams and many family bonds.
The sea; the insulator of our sweet serenity- the liminal space of Caribbean identity.
The sea; the solution to our problems, the bringer of our suffering.
The sea; the joy giver on any Sunday.
Our most precious commodity.
Like cycles of clay, cycles of sea, cycling to map time on our body.
Its power harnessed to transform states of water, from land to air then to sea.
A rich history as healer or war dealer,
A good preserver and cleaner’
The product of the land sea and sun
A metaphor for ‘if life gives you lemons’.
Who claims the island?
This place we inhabited, but with our living inhibited,
Constant negotiations of paradise or prison.
From prison to paradise and prison again?
This endangered region.
I lay claim.
My body the only site I can lay claim to,
The embodiment of creolization. Its origins a mystery with general suggestions.
So this site, this place- my body, in this space
My body the land, my path like sand
Sea sand land sun.
I sit here Centered and silenced, an isolated island
A body in a body of water.
Sea sand sun land
I am this lands daughter.
The fragility of this space, the fragility of my place, the fragility of the bond we share.
Through this process of rebirth, I reimagine this place:
My paradise, my cross to bare
As my skin absorbs land, sea, sun and sand, I become one with my home.
My island preserves me, as I try to preserve she
A place that belongs to no one.
Somewhere between corporeal and dream.
We are sandwiched by a past we are still recovering from
and a future waiting with rising waters to whip us into submission.
But we - the rocks, pounded by wind and migrate on water until we settle again.
Anew, like a clay vessel strong enough to hold.
The here and the now, this is our golden hour,
We seek refuge and respite, prepare and accept
the sweet spot of our paradise power.
With this salt I preserve,
A new state rebirthed,
A healing of thoughts and soul.
The salting of my body an act of solidarity with a rock I call my home.
A distant dream
Somewhere in-between, the paradox of Caribbean souls.