SEPTEMBER 8, 2016 - DECEMBER 15, 2016

Curated by Holly Bynoe


This Ground Beneath My Feet – A Chorus of Bush in Rab Lands[1] includes a collection of works from the last two years of Barbadian artist, Annalee Davis’, practice. The drawings, ledgers, and tea service, along with a culled collection of essays, books, and scholarly material, comprise this exhibition and accompanying Reading Room.

Here, Davis mines family and historical archives from the early 19th century to the 1970s and unpacks her family’s plantation to offer her reflection on historical realities within the Anglophone Caribbean. Binding together autobiographical elements with sites of investigation, Davis resuscitates history.  She considers how plantations in general, and her family’s in particular, defy comprehension—even as their economies of labor and production are understood.

In the rab lands, wild flora is resilient and fragile, ambiguous and lucid.  Narratives of assumption become tenuous as reimagined points of convergence come alive in fields and emerge from the belly of history within stories that have been silenced. Davis wanders through fields studying wild plants and the former monoculture crop, Sugarcane. She pays special attention to how the legacies of slavery, colonization, and ancestral trauma have scarred and exhausted the landscape.

Continuing to push the boundaries of materiality in her work, the development of (Bush) Tea Services – the sculptural centerpiece – incorporates porcelain and red clay shards unearthed from Davis’ walks and archeological digs at Walkers Dairy, a former plantation. (Bush) Tea Services symbolically connects to the imagery present in Rab Lands, abstracting the wild plants from quotidian usage. They are repurposed for ritual, consumption, and healing.

This space has been designed to facilitate discussion and encourage investigationof the historical complexities within the Caribbean, and beyond. Sit and peruse.

[1] Rab Lands is a late 16th century term referring to various types of stony or gravelly subsoil; rubble, gravel. In Barbados it refers to land that was formerly under sugarcane cultivation and has been left to grow wild plants. The term is usually used in a disparaging way signaling land that is deemed unsuitable for agricultural production.

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