Who owns the island?

Image captured by Nick Hurley during performance.

‘Who owns the Island?’ investigates the current social effects of a post-colonial, pre-environmental disaster environment on Caribbean people. 

As Caribbean dwellers continue to navigate islands shaped by colonialism, a second wave of complexity dawns the horizon; the threat of losing countries due to increasing  natural and environmental disasters which have already rendered some islands uninhabitable. The islands remain fragile, volatile rocks occupied by millions.

 ‘Who owns the Island?’ illuminates the liminality of Caribbean beings and their relationship to the sea which facilitated their arrival and threatens their removal. The following images are from the communal healing event documented in Barbados.

This performance is part of The Saltwater Project.

*More documentation of this project coming soon!*

My Paradise Paradox

Spoken component of “Who owns the island!?” performance

Land

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.

A paralleling.

Most clay minerals form where rocks are in contact with water, air, or steam

Our bodies the rocks, the sea the water.

Clay bodies.

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.

Land, hand

Sea

A solution, a homogenous mixture of two substances where one substance has dissolved the

other.

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.

Sun

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.

Salt

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

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.

taisha Carrington

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