Beach as Plot?

Annalee Davis

I
must be given words to shape my name
to the syllables of trees


I
must be given words to refashion futures
like a healer’s hand


I
must be given words so that the bees
in my blood’s buzzing brain of memory


I
will make flowers, will make flocks of birds,
will make sky, will make heaven,
the heaven open to the thunder-stone and the volcano and the un-folding land.

Kamau Brathwaite,  “Eating the Dead / Negus”[1]

I

The world today feels unfamiliar from what it was mere weeks ago. The COVID-19 pandemic is a remarkable moment, in that it offers the Caribbean an opportunity to transform our reasoning and usher in more humane policies to benefit the collective. Rather than assume that it is only our leaders who have the best ideas or that we abdicate responsibility to the free market, we might use this opportunity to agitate for and contribute to more progressive thinking in shaping our societies. As this crisis unfolds across the region, the very real threat to food sovereignty and the fragility of our economies is glaringly apparent, patterned as it has been for centuries on shortsighted modalities that have not always served our best interests. 

My aim in this article is to draw a thread between the  one-dimensional notion of tourism as the panacea for small island economies (with a particular focus on Barbados), and the potential role of contemporary visual art and artists in offering other lenses through which we can see ourselves and consider our contexts. COVID-19 will infect this text. How can it not?

The hotel is to be built in historic Bridgetown, near its Garrison area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Included in the list of buildings are two adjoining warehouses to be demolished to make room for this hotel. The person on the panel representing heritage at the Town Hall Meeting, Andrea Richards, said they would do an archaeological dig once the building is demolished. Surely the goal of listing historic buildings in world heritage sites is not to demolish and then do digs? One of the international architects of the Uruguay based DRS360 Hospitality Lab suggested we locals could “run freely along the beach.” 

Several legitimate, sensible, and fair questions were ignored or left unanswered. Peter L. Thompson, management consultant, told the panel they treated concerned Barbadians who tried to influence this development in the public interest with disrespect. He pointed out that the first proposal for this construction was for a Hyatt Centric brand hotel with 238 rooms and reminded those gathered that the government compulsorily acquired the adjoining warehouse so developers would address concerns expressed by Barbadians. The developers shifted to a Hyatt Ziva brand, enlarged the project by 93% and increased the height from fifteen to eighteen stories “just to rub salt in that wound and give the finger to the UNESCO designation.”[4] He claimed that the companies selling concrete would be the main beneficiaries and closed his passionate testimony by saying that the developers were “ungracious, selfish, and deaf to community concerns.” Mr. Thompson wrote to two of the developers on January 9th to express his concerns and has never had a reply.[5]

This meeting exemplified how national “conversations” about new hotels or developmental schemes are more often one-dimensional when controlled exclusively by the corporate voice.  While the presentations were uninspiring, the comment about running freely on the beach between floating cabanas, a hotel, chairs and umbrellas, was most disturbing and revealed the limited imagination of the Caribbean’s corporate sector and its governments to craft innovative, sustainable, intra-sregional initiatives that benefit these small places where we live. 

I left the meeting asking if it is even possible for us to have a seat at the table and engage in dialogue when greed, corruption, and fears about struggling economies prompt reactionary decisions which disregard science, the environment, and strategic engagement. Extractive economies threaten the future of mankind, while those with blinkered vision assured by private wealth, ignore the fact that if they continue to treat the Earth and small nations as resources to be consumed and exhausted nothing habitable will be left. 

With all the signs of global environmental catastrophe and in the midst of COVID-19, are we as a postcolonial nation asking what a future tourist economy would look like in the context of hotels emptying out? As elsewhere, Barbados’ tourist sector, accounting for 40% of the island’s employment, has ground to an unprecedented halt. Barbados has terminated commercial flights while trying to maintain limited connectivity to import food, medicine and supplies.[6] In relation to the question of food sovereignty, Barbados-based Forbes journalist, Daphne Ewing-Chow, suggests that COVID-19 might provide CARICOM with opportunities to become more independent and bolster our security nationally and regionally by investing in agricultural technologies and fostering intra-Caribbean food trade.[7]

My sense from attending both the Blue Horizon[8] and Hyatt Ziva meetings, is that we are not asking fundamental questions about the future of tourism in comprehensive ways. In the March 24, 2020 edition of the epaper, Barbados Today, Hyatt Ziva developer, Mark Maloney, told Barbados that “work on the project on Bay Street in The City will move full steam ahead next month, despite the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has forced the closure of hotels, some airports and grounded most major airlines across the globe.” Have the decades-long warnings of global warming and the current pandemic taught eager developers little to nothing and is the state tolerating this assertion of bravado in the face of collective crises?

II

It is not
It is not
It is not enough 
To be pause, to be hole
To be void, to be silent
To be semicolon, to be semicolony
[9]

What can the artist do in such a situation? 

These Town Hall Meetings and national discourse about developments prompted my thinking about the potential role of the arts in this society. 

Since 1989, I have been exploring issues related to Barbados including its plantation history, which has irrevocably altered the landscape, and continues to impact the contemporary socio-political environment. Since the nineties, I have made works addressing the radical transformation of the land from plantation to hotel and the weary packaging of the Caribbean as an exotic paradise. I am privileged to have exhibited most of the following works in various international contexts, yet I would appreciate being able to exhibit my works in the local context, since it was this context which inspired all of them.  My practice considers the Caribbean as a site of (dis)ease, soil degradation, biodiversity loss, and mastering of the landscape via monoculture (sugar and then tourism). I consider the heterogeneous nature of Barbados against more simply constructed narratives and forgetting by examining present-day remains of the plantation.

For many contemporary visual artists working in the Caribbean, there’s often a chasm between local audiences’ awareness of current creative production and pressing ideas artists are working through, simply because it doesn’t get exhibited at home. There aren’t adequate spaces for visual art to be shown in Barbados or platforms where our artists can contribute more vigorously to national and regional consciousness and dialogue. We are left with the more commercial, tired, and stereotypical images perpetuating outmoded notions and tropes of who we are, adding little to present discourse. What this means, in practical terms, is that these alternative ideas are not considered during crises such as COVID-19 because they haven’t entered public consciousness.

In the absence of a contemporary art museum in Barbados, I will be using this platform to share some critical works that have offered a refusal to privilege the tourism industry as our only lifeline. Instead, I will share personal negotiations on how I have continued to create in spite of these challenges of invisibility. Were there somewhere appropriate to show my work locally, these are the works I would exhibit.

The Things We Worship (1992)

Acrylic on Wooden Altar. Size 60”h x 45”w (Closed) or 90”x (Open)  Photo Credit – Len Corsby. Collection of the Embassy of the USA, Barbados office. 

In the early nineties, I was responding to heated national debates questioning the future of a landscape caught between a sugar industry with its weighty associations with slavery,  sugar production costs that were among the highest in the world and the development of  tropical islands as exoticised playgrounds for foreigners, catered to through the development of golf courses, ever grander hotels and possibly casinos. The Things We Worship exposed contradictions that, if left to prevailing market trends, would go unchallenged.

It consisted of an altarpiece activated during a 1992 performance at the dilapidated Vaucluse sugar factory as part of a one day ‘happening’ called Art Over Sugar. When closed, the altar displays a central image of a rural Barbadian landscape flanked on one side by a fish out of water and sugar cane at sea. On the reverse side is a line-drawing of a rural landscape tapering off to a ‘cut along the dotted line’ – eagerly followed by scissors – a reference to unscrupulous permissions granted for subdividing prime agricultural land for housing lots and golf courses, requiring the use of pesticides and copious quantities of water in an already water-scarce country.

Vaucluse Sugar Factory, St. Thomas, Barbados

In front of an audience of about 500 Barbadians, I collaborated with the late Colin Hudson – agriculturalist, inventor, singer and field naturalist whom I draped in a sheet of white cotton, wrapping him from head to foot in long strips of white gauze. He sang the Barbados National Anthem, interjecting provocative questions and statements. Playing on words in the Anthem, he noted “only this morning the papers said another 2,000 acres were no longer our very own”. Hudson provocatively challenged our role as active citizens who, in the Anthem, are “strict guardians of our heritage, firm craftsmen of our fate” by suggesting alternatively that we were strict guardians of our heritage and firm craftsmen of our fate. He ended like a broken gramophone player.

This Land of Mine: Past, Present & Future (1997). Suite of Twelve Relief Prints. Full suite 5’h x 4’6”w. Photo Credit – Dan Christaldi

This Land of Mine: Past, Present & Future, a suite of twelve relief prints, tracks the shifting transformation of Barbados’ landscape beginning with four copper images at the base referencing landscapes that signal their value agriculturally, archaeologically, and historically.[10] The middle row of transitional grey images speaks to greed and corruption, symbolized by a finger in a pie. Segueing to the hot pink images at the top of the suite, the prints showcase a fast food restaurant (formerly a mahogany forest), a golf course built on prime agricultural land, a garbage repository controversially sited in the national park and a marina with upmarket townhouses; in fact, their construction destroyed a valuable indigenous site which wasn’t fully excavated.  

Just Beyond My Imagination is adapted from the Barbados Board of Tourism’s marketing slogan “BARBADOS – Just Beyond Your Imagination”. The island hosted the Golf World Cup Championships in December 2006, highlighting its potential to become an international golfing center. This installation presents Caribbean nations (minus Haiti & Guyana who did not have golf courses then) as sand traps locked into a sea of perfectly manicured green grass—no sign of water.[11] The flagpole bears the ironic title, referencing the region’s continual development as playgrounds for visitors. A red mat at the edge of the work, engraved with the text “Members Preferred,” indicates the exclusivity and privilege of those who consume its pleasures. This work was never exhibited in Barbados.

Just Beyond My Imagination 2006/2007. Installation – Indoor/Outdoor carpeting, cast plaster moulds, sand, engraved red carpet, flag pole with embroidered flag, golf ball. Photo credit: Remy Jungerman.

Sweet Island Cookie Cutters – Sweet Fuh So! responds to the developers’ vision of Barbados as a perfect tourist attraction offering well-packaged, exclusive housing developments for wealthy locals and expatriates, built around golf courses and polo fields.[12] Most of the shorelines are no longer visible from the coastal roads as the requisite gates and high walls built by absentee homeowners block the windows-to-the-sea. The increasingly over-developed south coast means that with disappearing coastlines, the interior of the island is under pressure to be fashioned into upmarket “community living” centres. This suite of seven wooden boxes with laser engraved lids slide open to reveal cookie cutters shaped as cocktail glass, palm tree, yacht etc. 

All my life I’ve regularly gone to the beach. My weekly saltwater healing happens in the Caribbean Sea. For decades, I have listened to Barbadians engage in polarised discussions about the startling rate of the disappearing windows-to-the-sea, impacting those without private coastal properties who find it increasingly difficult to access our beaches, a national resource which should be readily available to all citizens. Ten years ago, I produced Public Beach Access, a video documenting my repeated action of measuring ten public beach access points to ascertain how many feet of beach access remains available to locals on seven miles of the most lucrative stretch of the West Coast of Barbados.[13]Throughout the work, I sing a 1982 hit song composed and performed by local musician, Anthony “Gabby” Carter, called “Jack!”[14] This song originally responded to the Barbados Board of Tourism’s legal counsel advising hotel owners that they had the right to extend their property down to the waterfront.  On the seven mile stretch of coastline I measured in 2010, I realised that locals have 0.027 miles of public beach access.

Public Beach Access (2010) Still from video. Video Installation 8:39 minutes. Shot and Edited by Omar Estrada. Photo Credit: Alexandra Majerus

The issue is increasingly critical. In July 2019 a Concerned Citizens of Barbados group developed an online petition titled Keep The Sea Window At Accra/Rockley Open and printed a 250 page document, with over 5,000 signatures, delivered to the Planning Unit (of Town & Country Planning). This is one of the very last openings to the sea and it is about to be lost to tourism development. The petition does not seem to have had any impact.

(Bush) Tea Plots – A Decolonial Patch confronts the historical imposition in Barbados of the monocrop–Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)–while recognizing nature as a radical agent of resistance against the singular model of the plantation.[16] Observing how the natural world is threatened and degraded, this work acknowledges the resilience of our regenerative biosphere and its inherent capacity for healing at the agricultural, botanical and psycho-spiritual levels. It comprises a glass planter showing the soil profile, allowing the viewer to appreciate the rhizosphere providing a nurturing environment in which a specially curated selection of medicinal plants with healing properties may flourish. It creates visibility of near extinct, covert Afro-spiritual, bush tea customs.[17] 

(Bush) Tea Plots – A Decolonial Patch, 2019. A living apothecary, EBCCI, UWI Cave Hill, Barbados. Photo credit: Dondré Trotman

A living restorative plot, this collection of wild botanicals speaks to an increase in biodiversity on the island resurfacing in abandoned sugarcane fields since the decline of the sugar industry. It acknowledges the historic use of wild botanicals grown on small plots of land by the enslaved as an apothecary or homemade  curative space to treat illnesses. A QR code on the side of the planter links to a website with resources and information on the plants. As this COVID-19 moment forces us to rethink sustainable futures in the context of small nations, how might we reconsider the potential of wild botanicals, often disregarded as roadside weeds to be sprayed with pesticides? The local slow food movement in Barbados, for example, is noticing a trend in some of our chefs who envision inventive ways to include some of these wild plants into their menus; organic farmers sell Amaranth, pussley and fat pork at Cheapside market. Is this an example of a post-plantation economy whereby historically fatigued landscapes might become sites of genesis and regeneration? Uncultivated botanical growth may offer counterpoints to plantations as fixed sites of trauma, violence, and exclusivity, allowing reconciliation with the land and the virtual slaughterhouse that lies below it. [18]

III – Beach as Plot?

Barbados’ Prime Minister, the honourable Mia Amor Mottley, recently described the evolution of Barbadian people from virtual beasts of burden whose labour was exploited, to gradually becoming free citizens.[19] Her statement took me back to the architect’s comment at the Town Hall Meeting offering Barbadians permission to run on our own beaches.

It reminded me of Lloyd Best’s writing that the Caribbean is one of the only places in the world where the economy preceded society, and despite our emergence from enslavement, indentureship, and colonisation, he was not certain that we would survive. It still isn’t certain that we will do so. His remarkable statement highlights the fact that before we in this region were even rendered human we were mere cogs in an economic wheel, manufacturing profits for people elsewhere. Like the Hyatt Ziva, this place was not designed for our pleasure or nurture. 

Since Hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Dorian, Caribbean leaders have spoken on the world stage about the unequal impact of the climate crisis on SIDS (Small Island Developing States). While the extractive practices of first world countries are the main contributors to our environmental problems we cannot ignore how resource strained Caribbean governments pattern their own models of development on cloth cut by our colonial histories, unceasingly threatening the human and ecological well-being of this region. For example, tropical coral reefs have been negatively impacted and depleted by chemicals used in local industrial agricultural practices. We have been remiss in effectively monitoring those practices to protect our own biodiversity.[20] In transitioning to tourism, rather than repeating the mistakes of monocrop farming in the extractive agricultural sector, we should have interrogated elected officials to better represent our interests and those of the environment. Are floating cabanas, all-inclusive hotels, and archaic tourism products that often make Barbadians feel unwelcome on their most beloved beaches, the very best idea we can come up with? 

It is inappropriate for Hyatt Ziva’s architect to think it’s acceptable to offer Barbadians permission to run freely on their own beaches. The era of relegating Caribbean people to rabland or small plots should remain in the history books and we must resist all attempts by corporate Barbados and foreign investors to overdevelop this island at the expense of the few remaining windows-to-the-sea leaving us with no beach without an umbrella or a tourist. 

Since March 28th 2020, Barbadians have been coming to terms with the implications of the 8 pm to 6 am curfew. National talk radio registered collective panic at not being able to go to the beach during the Stay At Home period. A clearer position was later communicated stating that we could go to the beach if we maintained physical distancing.  The nation exhaled collectively. 

We have a complicated relationship with the sea which began as a watery grave for the many enslaved who lost their lives on the middle passage. Bajans who can’t swim often say “The sea ain’t got no back door!” In 2018, the new government implemented our first Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy to simultaneously protect our coastline, generate revenue and create employment.  For many families who live in small homes without a yard, beaches and the sea are vital places of recreation, exercise, spiritual practice, and community. 

In my case, I embark on weekly pilgrimages to the beach, a sacred site where I practice saltwater healing, a secular full-bodied baptism deep in the Caribbean Sea. This is the form my non-denominational worship takes, where my soul fills with gratitude and my mind is rejuvenated. Where else, outside of the unmediated natural world (and the arts), can human beings experience the sublime? So imagine my frustration a few weeks ago when I went to the beach and had to wind my way through an obstacle course set by a newly opened hotel with its row of umbrellas and chairs, and find a small plot of sand under a shady tree. I sat down, practiced slow breathing to mitigate my annoyance at this traffic jam of tourists and their paraphernalia. I looked to my left only to see a tourist woman bending over so close to me that I witnessed more than necessary. It was not pretty, I did not feel rejuvenated, nor did I experience the sublime that Sunday.

Enterprise beach also known as Miami Beach, March 2020

Increasingly, we experience our glorious coastlines in a framework of commerce, as a transactional space embedded in rabid tourism. There is almost nowhere left for Barbadians to escape that whorish context. 

The Hyatt Ziva will colonise a narrow strip of sand between floating cabanas, beach chairs, and umbrellas. That strip, unlike small plots given to the enslaved, repeats historic patterns of preserving the best resources for those who can afford them. The average black Barbadian may not feel welcome on that plot of beach, nor will most Bajans even want to be there, sandwiched in between tourists baking themselves silly while waiters serve cocktails. In An Eye For The Tropics, Krista A. Thompson writes of a 1967 incident when Evan Blake, a black Jamaican journalist, jumped into the saltwater pool at the Myrtle Bank Hotel in Jamaica. Blake’s famous action, she argues, was in resistance to the racial discrimination inherent in the tropicalisation of Jamaica’s tourist economy while simultaneously a desire to benefit from this sector by submerging “himself literally and figuratively in the modernity that the hotel and its pool represented for white elites.”[21] The transformation of the Caribbean’s physical environment has been an ongoing exercise since the early 17th century. The plantation got dressed up as the hotel.

The current pandemic demonstrates pre-existing and growing inequalities around the world. Some citizens have been stranded outside their own national borders, others struggle to access healthcare systems, and in the USA, reports show that black and brown people are dying at alarmingly higher rates. Barbados government’s temporary decision to close supermarkets “until further notice,” forced a national discussion about the inability of many to stock up for two weeks. The nation’s call-in programmes articulated vociferously how various sectors of our societies are impacted differently by state policies and the worrying reality of the most vulnerable was heard prompting more reasonable ways to access food during lockdown.[22]

Civic duty requires that we use our voices to critically interrogate and collectively imagine other future possibilities for islands like Barbados that represent the interests of all— not just the uber wealthy developers. 

CLR James believed in the collective power of human beings to transform society and be masters of their own future. How might this COVID-19 moment allow us to choose differently and work towards greater social justice and equity as collective leaders shaping our own futures? COVID-19 is forcing everyone to reexamine our/their lives. It shows up in cracks in healthcare systems, poor eating habits contributing to a prevalence of NCDs given exorbitant costs of fresh produce, and the escalating precariousness of many in our societies who don’t have savings and whose future remains uncertain. 

What can we learn at this time, through the lens of the arts, a sector the world is (ironically) drawing on now more than ever? In the Caribbean The Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival has offered one free film in their #WatchAMovieOnUs programme from March 28th till April 10. On April 5 the Bocas Lit Festival premiered their Bios & Bookmarks, an online reading series with Caribbean authors on their Instagram Live and The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands recently put their permanent collection online. The Barbados Museum and Historical Society is offering a weekly feature of one portrait from their current exhibition The Black Presence: Activism and Agency in a Different Age. The arts are feeding our souls during lockdown. Hopefully we will remember the value of the arts and artists to our society, alongside that of the health care workers, supermarket workers and all the others we rarely notice, when we walk out of our homes sometime in the future.

At no time should we embrace plans that relegate our citizens to small plots of sand. Artists, filmmakers, and writers need their voices to be heard while activists and concerned citizens must agitate for sustainable livelihoods and equity. We ought to do this if only so that when all the windows-to-the-sea have disappeared and there isn’t a beach we can go to for our own recreation and service, future Barbadians don’t ask why we in 2020 did nothing to protect what is ours. In combing through the archives they might come across the dissenting voices of those few who tried to ring the bells of concern, to no avail.

And just when I thought
I could rest
pour my own
– something soothing
like fever-grass and lemon –
cut my ten
in the kitchen
take five


a new set of people
arrive
to lie bare-assed in the sun
wanting gold on their bodies
cane-rows in their hair
with beads – even bells


So I serving them
coffee
tea
cock-soup
rum
Red Stripe beer
sensimilla
I cane-rowing their hair
with my beads


But still they want more
want it strong
want it long
want it black
want it green
want it dread



Though I not quarrelsome
I have to say: look
I tired now


I give you the gold
I give you the land
I give you the breeze
I give you the beaches
I give you the yellow sand
I give you the golden crystals



And I reach to the stage where
(though I not impolite)
I have to say: lump it
or leave it
I can’t give anymore

Excerpt from “MEDITATION ON YELLOW,” Olive Senior Gardening in the Tropics, 1994, Bloodaxe Books


Notes and References

[1] Kamau Brathwaite – Excerpt from Eating the Dead / Negus. accessed March 1 2020. https://genius.com/Kamau-brathwaite-eating-the-dead-negus-annotated

[2] Hyatt Ziva Barbados Environmental Impact Assessment: http://www.hyattcarlislebay.com/eia/

[3] Link to my personal facebook page with a post about the meeting: https://www.facebook.com/annalee.davis.3/posts/10221001343728431?__tn__=K-R

[4] According to its promotional material “Hyatt Ziva all inclusive resorts capture the fun and vitality of vacation. Guests of all ages can delight in unexpected discovery, as they try new things and bond in new ways through the passion of talented staff, the beauty of local culture, and authentic culinary delights.” Also see “HYATT ZIVA PROJECT ‘PAINFUL’”, January 13th 2020, Barbados Advocate Newspaper

https://www.barbadosadvocate.com/news/hyatt-ziva-project-%E2%80%98painful%E2%80%99.

[5] Another audience member asked where the hotel’s daily water requirements of 165,000 gallons would come from, while pointing out that the data they referenced was outdated from more than fifty years ago. A panelist replied that it would be sourced from the island’s water table – this  in one of the world’s most water scarce countries. She then expressed concern about the hotel’s impact on an already problematic capital city sewage plant and passionately admonished the panel, telling them they should all be ashamed of themselves.

[6] See  the COVID-19 Update with Tourism and International Transport Minister Kerrie Symmonds for more information: https://www.facebook.com/271334199698066/videos/144899290217919/

[7] “Five Ways That COVID-19 Has Changed What Food Insecurity Looks Like In The Caribbean”, Daphne Ewing-Chow, Senior Contributor, Food & Drink, Forbes. March 31, 2019. Accessed March 31 2020. 

[8] This July 18 2019 Town Hall Meeting was to discuss the redevelopment of the Blue Horizon Hotel on Accra beach, Christ Church, Barbados and its expansion to a 7-10 story hotel. The resistance to the developers’ plan to construct on the beach side was repeatedly and articulately opposed by a vocal audience who challenged the unimpressive presentations made by the developers. Although hundreds of people turned out and an online campaign opposing aspects of this redevelopment garnered 5,000 signatures, it doesn’t seem to have made an impact.

[9] Excerpted from Kamau Brathwaite – Eating the Dead / Negus. Accessed March 1 2020. https://genius.com/Kamau-brathwaite-eating-the-dead-negus-annotated

[10] This limited edition was made in 1997 in collaboration with Master Printer, Eileen Foti, at the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Printmaking, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

[11] Just Beyond My Imagination, a 2007 work commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum of Art for the Infinite Island exhibition curated by Tumelo Mosaka, was later shown in 2010 in The Tenth Havana Biennial, “Integration and Resistance in the Global Era”, curated by Jose Manuel Noceda, and then in 2010 in Vous-êtes ici, a group show curated by Dominique Brebion at Fondation Clément in Martinique. 

[12] In 2007, Sweet Island Cookie Cutters – Sweet Fuh So! was commissioned for Happy Island – Encuentro Bienal Contemporaneo Di Caribe in Aruba, curated by Jose Manuel Noceda. Later, in 2012 – 2013 it was included in the Caribbean: Crossroads of the World exhibition and displayed at El Museo del Barrio, curated by Elvis Fuentes. In 2014, it was included in a revised version of Caribbean: Crossroads of the World at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), curated by Elvis Fuentes and Tobias Ostrander. 

[13] This work was shown in the group exhibition, “Water” at the Queens Park Gallery, Barbados, and curated by Therese Hadchity in 2019. The video was shot and edited by Omar Estrada.

[14] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTbGkop7mss

[15] Public Beach Access (2010) Video by Annalee Davis. Shot and Edited by Omar Estrada.

8:39 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzTD2QtNKZ8

[16] In 2019 I was commissioned by the World Bank Group for their Risk and Resilience conference to produce (Bush) Tea Plots – A Decolonial Patch. The conference was hosted by the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI) at UWI, Cave Hill campus and the work is permanently installed on site. The work was made in collaboration with Kevin Talma and Ras Ils through art practice, landscape architecture, and botany. https://bushteaplots.wordpress.com/

[17] Drinking bush tea was a ritual practiced by the enslaved. Tea was brewed from locally grown wild plants harvested in small plots, hedgerows, and gullies, and consumed for medicinal, spiritual and healing properties.

[18] On Being Committed to a Small Place, Annalee Davis. TEOR/éTica, Costa Rica, 2019. ISBN 978-9968-899-40-6 pp. 236.

[19] 65th Sitting of The House of Assembly, 2018-2023, Estimates, Friday, 20th March, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/SupportMiaMottley/videos/205250254092073/?epa=SEARCH_BOX

[20] Coral reef cover in the Caribbean has been reported to have declined over 80% in the last 30 years [17]. Climate related changes in ocean acidity and temperature, nutrients and chemical pollution are the main proposed reasons for coral reef declines and cause for concern. Accessed March 29, 2020. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230252760_Chemical_Pollution_on_Coral_Reefs_Exposure_and_Ecological_Effects

[21] An Eye For the Tropics : Tourism, Photography, and Framing the Caribbean Picturesque, Krista A. Thompson, Duke University Press, Durham and London 2006. Pp. 205. At that time, black Jamaicans were denied access to hotels unless they laboured there. 

[22] The decision to close supermarkets and only allow village shops and bakeries to provide food to the nation was communicated to the nation on April 2nd. Friday, April 3rd saw pandemonium with large crowds of people trying to buy food. On Monday, April 7th, the government made alternative provisions for the ordering and delivery of food to be implemented on Tuesday, April 8th.

I would like to acknowledge the feedback of Pree’s editors as well as that of two fellow readers, Holly Bynoe and Evelyn O’Callaghan, who have all helped me to make this a stronger text. Your feedback is very much appreciated.

Annalee Davis’s visual art practice works at the intersection of biography and history, focusing on post-plantation economies. Her studio, located on a working dairy farm, operated as a 17thC sugarcane plantation, offers a critical context for her practice which engages with the residue of the plantation.

Her 2019 bilingual book, “On Being Committed to a Small Place” was published by TEOR-éTica and launched along with her solo exhibition “Heartseed”, also at TEOR-éTica, Costa Rica.She is participating in several group exhibitions in 2020 including “Seismic Movement- Movement of Goods and People as Colonial Exercise”, Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh; “And if I devoted my life to one of its feathers?”, Kunsthalle Wien, Austria, and “The Words Create Images”, International Biennale of Casablanca.

In 2011, Annalee founded Fresh Milk, an artist-led initiative. She is the co-founder and co-director of Caribbean Linked, an annual residency in Aruba, and Tilting Axis, an independent visual arts platform bridging the Caribbean through annual encounters.

From 2016-2018, she was Caribbean Arts Manager with the British Council, and part-time tutor at Barbados Community College (2005-2018). She received a BFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art (1986) and an MFA from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (1989).

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