La Belle Creole: The Shape-shifter of The Atlantic

Lisandro Suriel

Since the dawn of women, Creole has haunted the junctions between merging civilizations, changing her name and appearance to suit her circumstance. Who is Creole? What does she look like? Does she even exist?  Many think she is birthed from empire, however, that is only where she got her name.  Appearing in many guises throughout the ages of the Black Atlantic, her true form is enshrouded by ideologies about beauty, race, class, and gender. Creole is merely a name imposed upon her through the mythicizing gaze of others. Ultimately, La Belle Creole only appears to you by reflecting your own understanding of race, gender, and identity, casting her true ontology to the realms of Black imagination.

La Belle Creole is inspired by the cultural exchange of the medieval Black Atlantic that took place between the Caribbean, Mesoamerica and the flourishing Mandingo Empire. Many griots spoke of this time before Creole got her name, when there existed an emperor who was said to be obsessed with what lay on the other side of the Ethiopian Sea, known today as the Atlantic Ocean.  As the richest man to ever exist, the emperor called on the peoples of Kama (Africa) to fulfill his desire of traversing the vast ocean. Intending never to return, he set out with 200 ships and established an African presence in the Americas predating European expansion.  This was the last time the world and Creole remained unnamed and unchained by the dogmatic shackles of Western imperialism. One can imagine a time when people might have had entirely different conceptions about what constitutes borders, racial identity, gender, and sexual orientation.

Rather than shackles, the freedom of wealth and curiosity brought our ancestors across the Atlantic in waves of diaspora. Trans-model Jasmine Hassan in La Belle Creole represents a trans-Atlantic identity rooted In a Free State. La Belle Creole venerates forgotten histories, values, and peoples we must strive to remember. 

Lisandro Suriel is a Photographer and Artistic researcher born and raised in Saint Martin. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and received his Master’s of Art by research in Arts and Culture: Artistic Research at the University of Amsterdam.  As part of his Master’s thesis he analyzed early twentieth century illustrations of West-Indian mythology in relation to cultural aphasia. This research forms the foundation of his on-going artistic research project Ghost Island in which he visually deconstructs the New World-imagination of the African Diaspora. 

We will always run out of time if we keep trying to be what the world around us tells us who we should be

Marinna Shareef 

 I’m the type of person who would like to be the best they can be for everyone. The best friend, the best helper, the best person. I’m a perfectionist. I realised a while back that I was tired of spreading myself thin and giving pieces of myself to others that I couldn’t even give myself. From then on I’ve had to deal with not being the ‘best’ anymore, and being a selfish person sometimes. I’ve had to give myself the attention that I was giving everyone else before, and it’s left me in a state where I hardly go out or socialize. However, it’s been benefiting me in so many ways and I’m so glad that I began to do this. This was one of the bigger steps that I had to take in my mental health journey, and I’m lucky to say that my close friends understand this and give me space when needed.

Trinidadian multi-media artist Marinna Shareef has completed her Fine Arts degree at the University of the West Indies and has exhibited in the National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago in the ‘UWI Degree Show,’  and in the “Emerging Artists” exhibition during Carifesta in 2019.

Waving Gallery

Kelley-Ann Lindo

 From a very young age I would always go to the waving gallery at the airport to see my family off. I would watch as they went to board the plane and I would try to get their attention by waving and jumping frantically up and down screaming their names. I would shout until they stood at the stairs and waved goodbye signaling their departure. And as the plane doors closed, the feeling of isolation and yet anticipation crept in. And that is how I began to see that space – the open and closed, the happy and sad, the love me and leave me. It became this ritual that ultimately ended. 

Home carries with it many meanings. Home triggers memories, sometimes reminding us of painful or happy moments. My ongoing body of work seeks to establish a conversation around the dynamics surrounding home and its meaning – and how absence within that space alters its meaning. My previous investigations explored the dynamics surrounding the barrel children syndrome within the Caribbean culture — a term referring to children who have been left behind by one or both parents who have migrated. The term also reflects the parent’s need to disguise their absence with the provision of material goods and remittance for the children. This body of work raises questions about migration, Caribbean family structure, and material relationships between experience, memory, story and identity. 

The material explorations have been a continued range of mixed media from drawing, printing and installation with found objects and video to expand the discourse. My choice of various unconventional mediums have allowed for more expansive exploration of language and image making. Through abstraction, I have absorbed the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice as an act of catharsis. The works reference recognizable form deconstructed to the extent that, meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. 

Kelley-Ann Lindo has been educated at the Edna College of the Visual and Performing Art (BFA in Painting, 2015). She worked as a gallery assistant at the CAGE Gallery, and as a curatorial assistant at the National Gallery of Jamaica all in Kingston, Jamaica. She lectured at the Edna Manley College of the Visual & Performing Arts, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University under a Fulbright Scholarship. She has been artist-in-residence at Alice Yard, Port of Spain, Trinidad (2016), at NLS, Kingston, Jamaica (2017) and at Blaqmango Consultancy, Kingston, Jamaica (2018). Her work has also been exhibited at the Barbados Museum & Historical Society (Arrivants Exhibition, 2018), the National Gallery of Jamaica (Jamaica Biennial 2017), Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts (Final Year exhibition, 2015), and the College’s CAG[e] Gallery (2014). Lindo produces large, mixed media installations, but also works in drawing and print media, and in video.

Emancipatory Proposition

Beatriz Llenín-Figueroa

…j’écris en français pour dire aux Français que je ne suis pas français.

Kateb Yacine, 1966

Crisis life. Life crisis. Crisis of life. Life of crisis. Crisis on life. Life on crisis. Crisis below life. Life below crisis. Crisis in life. Life in crisis. Crisis beyond life. Life beyond crisis.

Because I have always struggled with English prepositions, I make all kinds of propositions. To experiment. To see what works. And what doesn’t. But, above all, to see what flees.

In Puerto Rico we have always been fleeing. But most of our fleeing is not the cool, postmodern kind. It’s tearing apart fleeing. Fleeing that does not come up in the news. Fleeing that does not count as asylum-seeking. Fleeing with citizenship. Fleeing without war. Fleeing from the evidence of our millenary subjugation. Fleeing against and fleeing from the fellow American, but fleeing that cannot be understood as such because those who care insist on the violence of fellowship as much as on the fellowship of violence.

I write this in English because languages escape power, or so I want to believe. At least, I write this sentence willing it to do what it says it will: rip the English language’s power apart. I know full well English is criminal. The thing is, though, Spanish is too. And in Puerto Rico, there is no fleeing such evidence unless you experiment and use the wrong prepositions and disturb fellow Americans with your emancipatory propositions and fellow Spanish-speaking people who say Puerto Ricans are the worst Spanish speakers because we fuck up the Rs. Such is the fleeing I seek, seeing as to the utter intolerability of the life empire made, and continues to make, for us, the colonial subjects.

You might think I am the sacrificial body. But the body of my blood, the flesh of my thought, will never be yours. Nor will they ever be in your debt. 

I am not your fellow American. The debt is yours. You owe me.

Such is my emancipatory proposition.

Beatriz Llenín-Figueroa’s research and creative work revolve around Caribbean literatures and philosophies, island and archipelagic studies, gender and queer theory, decoloniality, and street theater and performance. She holds a PhD from Duke University’s Program in Literature and is currently an adjunct professor of Comparative Literature and Humanities at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. She also works as associate editor for the independent publishing house Editora Educación Emergente and is a freelance editor and translator. Her research has been published in academic journals such as Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Discourse, Caribbean Studiesand Sargasso, while her creative work has been published in digital platforms and magazines such as 80grados, Ahora la turba,Cruce, and Revista penúltiMa. The book Puerto Islas: crónicas, crisis, amor was published in 2018. She is currently at work on a book about archipelagic, decolonial futures for Puerto Rico, which includes a comparative analysis of past Caribbean confederation models. Through her work with the collectives PROTESTAmos and Taller Libertá, she is also an activist in defense of full sovereignty for the archipelago, debt relief and reparations, public education and independent art in Puerto Rico.

Pressure Cooking

Tiffany Walton

If you don’t have an entire day to spare, then you need a pressure cooker to cook goat, oxtail or cow foot. You have to wash the meat good first. Water and vinegar, and if it’s fish, you use lime juice. We don’t concern ourselves with what the Americans say about washing meat. Mi neva meet ah island person weh tek sick over food poisoning or washing meat yet. Now you season: salt, black pepper, whole garlic and onion, all-purpose seasoning, onion powder, thyme, pimento, scallion. Don’t put too much oil. Wait until the pot gets hot before you put the meat it. You see the light smoke, it’s hot now. Put everything in. Give it a good stir. Now put the warm water in. We always have trouble finding this knob. Make sure the pot is on the stove good. Now you leave it alone on medium-low heat for 30 minutes. The pressure takes at least 10 minutes to build. There is heat. Steam. Air hissing. Pressure. All right, time to turn off the heat. Let it sit. It’s taking too long to quiet, so you have to pull the knob to release the air.  Continue reading “Pressure Cooking”