Opening event: Ledgers From a Lost Kingdom

by La Vaughn Belle

Opening: March 10 2017 at 5-8 pm
Artist talk by La Vaughn Belle: March 12 2017 at 3 pm
Exhibition period: March 11 – May 14 2017

 

2017 is the centenary of Denmark’s sale of three Virgin Islands to the US. At meter we mark this through the exhibition Unravelings. This is a five-month exhibition in which we look at Denmark as a colonial power, and how this affects today’s society and our sense of national identity. The exhibition has not been static but has developed and expanded throughout the first three months. On March 10th we will give way to the next phase of the exhibition with a solo-contribution by artist La Vaughn Belle that will give voice to Danish colonial impact on the people of the Virgin Islands.

There exists an extensive archive of transactional information about Denmark’s relations to its former colonies through documents, images and objects. However, since the sale of the Danish West Indies in 1917, most of this information was retrieved by Denmark, stored and archived far from the people of the now named US Virgin Islands.

The upcoming centenary has prompted the digitization of these archives, making them available for public consumption. Yet, when records have been inaccessible to a community for so long, other ways of creating collective memory takes over. Alternative accounts are formed through oral traditions, material culture and architecture that challenge some of the silence inherent in the colonial order of things as seen through its archival productions.

La Vaughn Belle uses her work as a way of adding to the records by creating counter-narratives. She uses the framework of a ledger to challenge the objective authority of the archive by both adding her own subjectivity as well as documenting the agency of the subjects these archives portray. Similarly she looks at how the architecture of the Virgin Islands can be seen as a physical trace of the ways in which people constructed and negotiated their identities and spaces of freedom.

Read more about Unravelings.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Suada Demirovic