Grenada at the 56th Venice Biennale

The following catalogue essay was produced for the Grenada Pavilion’s first exhibition at the 56th Venice Biennale 9 May-22 November, 2015


‘Pavilion of Presence’: Grenada at the 56th Venice Biennale

Frederika Adam

Presence n. “The state or fact of being present”.[1]

Grenada and her artists have arrived in Venice with their presence: Present Nearness: the Disordered World is the first exhibition of the Grenada national pavilion for the 56th Venice Biennale All the World’s Futures curated by Okwui Enwezor. Grenada’s timing has been auspicious to be part of the first truly global Biennale signalling a tectonic shift from national representation towards mondialité as conceived by Eduard Glissant.[2]

Enwezor is “an art establishment outsider” engaging with artists irrespective of the art market and beyond institutional walls that glorify collecting and displaying art objects in Modernist isolation. Visual artists, like writers and intellectuals, should have the courage “to speak truth to power”, to address violence, conflict and the most vital issues affecting their society.[3] The 56th Venice Biennale celebrates 120 years of exhibiting the international in art by calling for an assessment of “the current state of things”.[4]   Enwezor’s curatorial agenda is a call to arms asking artists to investigate their presence through the means of their art.

Enwezor’s curatorial agenda compliments the recent expansion of national pavilions in Venice introducing younger post-colonial countries with emerging political, social and economic conditions.   Art production with an historical conscious can challenge current narratives of the past by quarrying the present to develop new concepts for the “postcolonial constellation” futures.[5] Open season has been declared on the national historical narratives ripe for deconstruction to produce work from a contemporary locale for the global art stage and this approach is evident everywhere in Venice this year.

To come to know a bit about Caribbean history requires one to confront psycho-geographical conditions that are brutally uncomfortable: Inferno in Paradise. Where “nobody in the Caribbean is native to the environment”[6], its history is one of violence, trauma and oppression brought about by slavery and colonialism juxtaposed with the 20th century’s touristic ‘blue-sky-turquoise-waters’ brochures that belie the actual conditions of post-colonial Caribbean culture. The work of the four Grenadian artists has been produced in dialogue with Enwezor’s curatorial call to arms and conscious of their new role in representing Grenada on Venice’s global art stage. Susan Mains and Maria McClafferty have produced monumental works addressing the state of violence and oppression inherent in society. Asher Mains has established a completely new dialogue between painting, identity and cocoa farming in Grenadian culture. Like a surgeon-painter, Oliver Benoit dissects the human mind to represent the visceral push and pull of the creative brain in action.

Grenada Speak, Art: the artistic response probes the conditions of the contemporary. The work of these four artists represents “Grenada” where within the Venice context something larger is at play between art, national identity and history.

Grenada Past and Present

Grenada is a volcanic island in the South Eastern Caribbean situated between the southern tip of the Grenadines and north west of Trinidad and Tobago. Located 12 degrees north of the equator, the island has a tropical climate ranging from mountainous rain forest to arid peninsulas, dramatic coastline, protected bays and both white and black sand beaches. The largest of five islands (including Carriacou and Petite Martinique), Grenada is 133 square miles and has a total population of 110,000 of which one third lives in and around the capital of St George’s. The Grenadian economy is based on tourism, agriculture and education and has undergone serious hardships since Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005).[7]

There is early ‘pre-contact’ evidence of Amerindian settlements including over 100 petroglyph carvings – the largest concentration of West Indian rock art in the Caribbean – the notable examples are located in the north of the island at Duquense Bay and Mount Rich.[8] These early settlers were Arawak-speaking Amerindians followed by the Kalinago or “Carib” Indians.[9] The Caribs resisted European settlements[10] on Grenada until the French began to establish tobacco and cocoa plantations. Between 1650-54, the fate of the Caribs was sealed by the purchase of the island by the French Crown determined to enslave, capture or kill the fierce Caribs. A famous moment of resistance came in the north of the island when around 40 Caribs escaped French capture by leaping to their death (or to escape) from a location today called “Caribs’ Leap” or “Leaper’s Hill” (Le Morne de Sauteurs). This episode in Grenadian history inspired Steve McQueen’s Caribs’ Leap/Western Deep (2002), a film shot on Grenada and South Africa.[11] For Caribs’ Leap, McQueen confronts the Caribs’ act of defiance by juxtaposing contemporary Grenada with the anxiety and implications of human figures falling to their demise.

International wars and the plantation economies reached their brutal pinnacles in the second half of the 18th century. The Treaty of Paris (1763) declared “Grenada” a British colony for the first time[12] although further wars brought the French back for four years (1779-83). The British rebuilt St George’s in stone and brick after fires and many of these Georgian buildings that survive today are of architectural interest. Grenada had become an important British colony for her size with 300 plantations growing cocoa, coffee and sugar cane all produced by the exploitation of African slave labour.[13] Quobna Cugoano, a former slave on Grenada and friend of Olaudah Equiano, published a pamphlet in 1787 in England (read by William Wilberforce) contributing to the awareness in England on the “evil and wicked” treatment of slaves.[14] As Europe deliberated, slave revolts increased including one on Grenada where the British were nearly defeated led by Julien Fédon in 1795-96.[15] Inspired by the French and Haitian Revolutions, Fédon occupied nearly all of Grenada except for St George’s. When the British finally retaliated, Fédon fled and the ‘revolution’ in one year had cost the lives of 7,000 slaves and left Grenada bankrupt.

The British abolished the slave trade in 1807 and slave labour in 1834-38. A document held in the UK National Archives at Kew records that there were around 30,000 slaves on Grenada in 1806-07.[16] An important database for researchers studying the abolition of the British slave trade is now available online: Legacies of British Slave-ownership including the facility to search for the names of Grenadian slave owners (and slaves) identified on applications for compensation from the British government.[17]

Post-emancipation, slave labour was soon replaced by “indentured labour schemes” introduced in 1834 when the first of thousands of “liberated Africans”, “East Indians” and “poor whites” (Irish and Scottish diaspora based on Barbados) arrived on Grenada.[18] Nevertheless, the failure to modernize production techniques and shifts in the market meant that the economy went into decline by the end of the 19th century. Sugar was eventually replaced by cocoa and nutmeg (introduced in 1843) and the latter would come to define Grenada under British colonial rule. During the 20th century, Grenada would become the “Isle of Spice” as the second largest producer of nutmeg (and mace) in the world after Indonesia.[19]

Grenadians from the “British West Indies” served in the Allied forces in both world wars in the Caribbean and in Europe instigating geographical and in turn political mobilization. The post-war period inevitably saw organizations and movements set on self-determination (or “autonomy”) while more Grenadians started to emigrate abroad. A devastating hurricane (Janet) hit Grenada in 1955 after which more Grenadians emigrated so that “in 1959 alone, 2.6 per cent of the entire population of Grenada migrated.”[20] De-colonization finally began with the Windward Islands Federation followed by the ‘Commonwealth Caribbean’ (1967) and finally independence on the 7th February 1974. Since independence, education has become a significant contributor to Grenada’s economy. St George’s University (founded 1977) is one of the first and most important post-graduate destinations in the Caribbean for medical students from North America to complete their medical school training.[21]

As part of the British Commonwealth, contemporary Grenadian society retains its institutions inherited from British colonial rule: its government, legal and educational systems are based on British models including the social prejudices and hierarchies imbedded in relations between class, race and sex.[22] English is the official language and the first language of most people although recent research into Grenadian Patois linking it to the language of resistance during colonialism is producing newfound interest in its usage.[23] The majority of the population on Grenada is of African descent, followed by East Indian, and “European and other”.[24] On Grenada as well as on Carriacou, there are a number of cultural traditions and influences handed down over centuries that contain layers of distant voices of African slaves and indentured workers.[25] The initial British arrangement to oversee their colonies in the lead-up to independence has been retained in the unification of regional activities through the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and economically CARICOM. These organizations also represent Grenada abroad including the Expo Milano 2015. After forty-one years of independence, British influence has started to mutate as the influence of American culture accelerated after independence and especially since the Revolution.

The Grenada Revolution started in 1979 as a socialist coup led by the charismatic Maurice Bishop but left Grenada in shock when it ended with Bishop’s violent death and US invasion in October 1983. There was international and British outrage at Regan’s swift decision to invade an independent Commonwealth country he believed had become militarized due to closer relations with Cuba, the Soviets and therefore a threat to US interests.[26] The immediate post-invasion period turned into years of long drawn-out controversies over the violation of human rights including those imprisoned during and after sentencing.[27] US prisoners – Cubans and those who became the “Grenada 17” – were held in 8×8 “isolation boxes” at the Point Salines airport[28] in the baking sun waiting to be shipped abroad. Hans Haacke, who read about the boxes in the New York Times, recreated one of the boxes for display in protest.[29] After the US withdrew, Grenada returned to a parliamentary representative democracy with the first elections held in 1984.

The Revolution and Invasion represent a complex period and legacy that is Grenada’s turbulent start as an independent post-colonial nation during the final years of the Cold War.[30] The legacy is still painful and raises more questions than answers about the nature of Caribbean societies, self-determination vis-a-vis post-colonialism, as well as Grenada’s post-1983 relationship with the US. Devastation caused by Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005) put further claims on Grenada’s recent economic recoveries while balancing the fine lines between reconstruction, development and environmental sustainability.[31] The current Prime Minster of Grenada is Dr Keith Mitchell, representing the New National Party, who was also Prime Minister from 1995-2008. In 2014, Grenada created its first ever Minister for Culture (formerly part of Tourism and Civil Aviation) Senator Brenda Hood.

This brief overview of Grenada’s histories – past and present – proposes a starting context for new audiences seeing Grenadian art for the first time at the Venice Biennale. The relationships between national identities and a country’s received histories are fertile research material for contemporary artists. McQueen remarked recently that “The only doctrine I have as an artist is to not allow the dust of the past to settle.”[32] Excavating the past demands further critical scrutiny of Grenada’s locale as a young independent, post-colonial, post-revolutionary Caribbean island.[33] The Grenada pavilion is a formative step drawing this smaller Caribbean island and her nearness to the international art world at a vital time in Grenada’s present.

The Venice Present Context

The Venice Biennale has expanded significantly in the last twenty years: from 58 countries to 88 pavilions in 2015.[34] This vast mosaic of pavilions, exhibitions and performances are potent reminders of the relevance of art. During the opening week, Venice is consumed by the art world meeting, networking and taking stock of the exhibitions and events in the Giradini, Arsenale and scattered throughout the city including Murano, the Marco Polo airport, and a number of smaller islands in the lagoon.[35] Many of the new artists and countries taking part in Venice in recent years do not have the institutions or access to the art market to be fully professionalized art centres.[36] Venice provides the opportunities to be amongst peers and part of the international discourses on contemporary art.

Critics of the Biennale’s format consider the national pavilion an artificial Modernist lens promoting nationhood and therefore outmoded and irrelevant to contemporary art practice. However, the Biennale’s expansion to include notably post-colonial countries has shifted the role of the Biennale pavilion to the introduction of new artists and their work to the contemporary art world. The Venice context and its effects (more on this later) reverberate back to countries in search of an authentic national art identity. A national pavilion exhibition is part of a dialogue and a legacy that recognizes artists and their art as significant to Grenadian culture. The exhibition and work is ready to be institutionalized including a Venetian narrative about the present and future of the visual arts in Grenada and the cross-cultural conversations Grenada shares with the Venice-Caribbean arts community.[37]

By its nature, the Biennale absorbs the global pluralism of contemporary art. The new countries entering the arena include: the Republics of the Seychelles[38], Mauritius[39] Mozambique[40] and Mongolia as well as older countries returning to show after a long hiatus (i.e. Guatemala has returned after last showing in 1954). All five new countries are recently independent[41], post-colonial or post-Soviet (Mongolia[42]) and four of the countries are part of the Commonwealth. All five countries continue to be socio-economically underdeveloped due to their youth as well as recent political upheavals such as: coup d’etats, revolutions and devastating natural disasters. In recent years, global warming and rising sea levels are a common threat that many new countries[43] share with Venice[44] itself.

The Seychelles, Mauritius and Mozambique are African countries[45] while Grenada is part of the African diaspora.[46] This year, the media has consistently highlighted the fact that Enwezor is the first black director of the Biennale (born in Nigeria) and that the Biennale contains the largest number of artists ever from Africa or of African descent.[47] Enwezor’s deliberate intervention(s) has finally made the Biennale representative of a truly global art exhibition as “we are in a moment that we can say is a very strong challenge to Western exceptionalism. We have really entered into an era of post-Westernism.” [48]

In addition to the Grenada and Cuba pavilions, the Caribbean and its diaspora have an important presence in Venice this year. Venice demonstrates that nationalism and regionalism are no longer strict boundaries and that “Caribbean art and artists” can exist beyond borders to include both artists and work inspired by the Caribbean.[49] The cross-cultural Caribbean art world in Venice includes the Latin American pavilion to McQueen, Chris Ofili[50] and Peter Doig.[51] The connections these artists and their work forge between the Venice Biennale, Grenada and the Caribbean contribute a rich and varied context with a multiplicity of dialogues and issues at the forefront and front line of the art world.[52]

Steve McQueen & Grenada

McQueen’s work as a video artist has recently been overshadowed by his Oscar success for 12 Years a Slave (2013) but it is for his video work that McQueen is bringing Grenada into the global art world as a subject of one of the most beautiful and poignant works in this year’s Biennale. McQueen’s Ashes (2014) consists of two distinct films (made 8 years apart) both shot in the north of Grenada and shown together on a double-sided screen with poetic effect. In 2002 while filming Caribs’ Leap, McQueen’s cameraman filmed in Super 8 a beautiful young black boy observed, riding on the bow of a boat with the sun and wind beating against his skin and bleached hair. The film was stored away when McQueen returned to Grenada eight years later to learn that on 5 June 2002 Kenson “Ashes” Baptiste had been shot for stealing a cache of cocaine he had found on the uninhabited Isle of Ronde.[53] The second film (shot in gritty stark contrast to the soft Super 8 of Ashes) contains the narrative about what happened to Ashes told by his friends as they build his new grave. Ashes’ violent death is proof that the drugs trade is operating on and around Grenada (drugs into the Eastern Caribbean are principally transported via Venezuela) albeit on a much smaller scale as the demand for cocaine is relatively low compared to other Caribbean countries.[54] McQueen was shocked by Ashes’ death and that it could happen to someone he had met on Grenada.[55] The work he has produced is a tribute and memorial for a beautiful young life senselessly cut short.[56]

The Grenadian Presence

This year, Grenada and Cuba are the two Caribbean countries with national pavilions in the Venice Biennale. It is significant that Grenada is one of the only small Caribbean islands to be invited to take part. A national pavilion provides an ambitious space for Grenada’s artists to take stock of “the present state of things” and to have a critical context for the production of their work.

Okwui Enwezor’s ‘filter’ the “Disordered Garden” inspired Grenada’s exhibition subtitle: the Disordered World. To draw the work together, the Grenada pavilion presents a critical framework that highlights the role of empathy in art. Empathy opens up borders, creates new dialogues and creative spaces through human relationships.[57] Present Nearness brings together the art of the four Grenadian artists with the work of three Italian artists selected specifically to show as part of the Grenada pavilion. This has become a common practice in recent Biennales to introduce new countries to the Biennale working with Italian curators[58] and organizations[59] experienced in producing the venue and directing the logistics to put on successful exhibitions in Venice.[60] Grenada’s presence has transported Grenada, and the Caribbean to Venice, Italy and Europe bringing these previously unfamiliar places nearer to one another.

The artists are discussed as you encounter their work in the exhibition.

Susan Mains

IMG_2137 IMG_2165

‘None Calls for Justice’

 ‘Of what value is a life lost in Africa, a girl in Nigeria, a student in Kenya?

Are those killed by violence mourned, memorialized, missed?

Do we lay flowers where they fall, and light a candle to honour them?

In this market of power, we pay a price to keep the balance skewed;

The soul we lose many be our own”

As curator and artist, Mains has produced a provocative installation on entrance to the pavilion: None Calls for Justice (2015).[61] Echoing Enwezor’s Epilogue in the Venice Biennale catalogue[62] on the “climate of fear” in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, Mains work translates and presents for closer inspection the iconic violence contained in recent news photographs. Her installation is made of clothes prostrate like bodies, gently built up to imply a form inside and carefully strewn with flowers and illuminated candles. On arrival, this piece immediately confronts and demands our attention as we recognize these bodies from the photographs of Nigerian massacres.[63] The candles and flowers memorialize the ghost figures drawing visitors in to become a witness and reflect on lives brutally and senselessly lost.

Mains’ original intention was to have the installation open to the elements in the cloister, however, the corner of the cloister provides a dark shelter to protect and heighten the effect of the illuminated candles. Here, the installation None Calls for Justice is transformed into a memento mori reverberating a cry out to humanity and for every human soul lost.

Asher Mains

IMG_1986           IMG_2136

This large portrait is the latest in a series entitled: “Painted Portraits for Cocoa Farmers”. On entering the Sala Tiziano, Joanne’s presence captures your gaze immediately. She is seated smiling at the viewer, relaxed and formidable in her work clothes, large rubber boots and cap, as though in conversation with us while she has taken a break to rest. She is seated outdoors, a hint of vegetation is visible next to her left hand and face and we note her machete (‘cutlass’) is at her side – also at rest in the ground for the time being. Her charismatic smile and physical strength seen from below makes her appearance even more appealing set against a decorative background of diamond-shaped constellations stencilled on unprimed canvas using Grenada’s popular ‘cocoa tea’.

The above description of a striking painted portrait belies Mains’ larger project at hand. The project started in 2014 with interviews, film and photographs of cocoa farmers based at the Crayfish Bay estate in St Mark in preparation for painting eight portraits. In January 2015, Mains held an exhibition-gathering at which he unveiled each portrait as a gift to the famers in gratitude and recognition of their work to produce cocoa. The reactions to this project caught on film[64] are of delight and bewilderment – the portrait is immediately recognised as something special but has arrived in a completely new context for portrait painting. Mains’ project challenges the conventions inherent in his medium including the history and nature of the painter-patron relationship by transforming portraiture into a form of cultural exchange that gives these farmers a new and tangible aesthetic status through art.

Cocoa farming and the development of a fully-fledged chocolate industry is the most exciting agriculture development in Grenada since Hurricane Ivan. Grenada’s volcanic terrior and cocoa trees are of exceptional quality but cocoa was overshadowed by nutmeg during colonialism.[65] The cocoa trade experienced a mini-revolution with the arrival of Mott Green’s “from tree to bar” Grenada Chocolate Company in 1999.[66] This colourful brand empowered independent cocoa farmers whose beans are processed at factories like the Belmont estate (where Joanne works) and the new Diamond Company.[67] The industry is not immune to concerns of which the average age of farmers (late 50s) reflects the fact that despite the recent enthusiasm for cocoa, agriculture continues to have difficulty attracting young people while the threat of unpredictable weather patterns grows. Nevertheless, Grenada’s cocoa industry has become a source of pride post-Ivan and Mains’ project reflects the authentic “driving force” and “sheer love of agriculture” that inspires his sitters.[68] At the moment, Grenada is unique as it is the only cocoa growing country that also produces and markets its own brands of chocolate. The hope is that the cocoa industry in Grenada can lead as a sustainable and ethical fair trade model for other cocoa producing countries.[69] 

Maria McClafferty


IMG_1959IMG_1960 IMG_3458

McClafferty’s monumental triptych Disordered World is a bold, bright colourful fused glass sculpture suspended in front of the pavilion’s central Palladian window. The light behind casts the aura of an ethereal floating kimono in greens, yellow, cloudy whites and heavily textured clear glass with orange and red accents in a chapel-like space of floor-to-ceiling white curtains on either side. The lightness of installation defies the weight of these glass panels encased in a steel scaffold attached together with metal clasps and wire suspended by chains cast through hoops that ominously resemble six manacles. The pure decorative beauty of fused coloured glass on closer inspection holds a dark secret.

The panels are made by layering (“stacking”) sheets of glass, painted and fused at varying temperatures (hot burst “ramps” and longer “soaks”) in McClafferty’s kiln in Grenada. The alchemy of heat, glass and colour has produced a dense abstract texture of globule passages, air bubbles and intense sprays of colour encased in the hybrid textures produced by the stress of annealing glass. The title Disordered World for a work in glass produces a double-entendre: Glass is an amorphous solid i.e. the atoms and molecules are not organized in a definite pattern and therefore by nature are disordered to form a structure.

Details emerge on closer inspection. The metal crosses, like barbed wire, create an ominous scar across the central panel dissecting the outline of a crucified female figure. Her breasts outlined at the base of her raised arms and outstretched palms dotted with sprays of red congealing blood. A brush of hair conceals a heavy head. The symbolism of a figure on a cross has a universal meaning that is brutality echoed by the six manacles bearing the weight of the work. (This figure is echoed in her two works hanging in the cloister on aluminium streaked brilliantly by the light as you walk through the space.) Made in Grenada, Disordered World has crossed the Atlantic from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. Its dark secret is that it contains brutal and oppressive histories: human slavery and colonialism (steel manacles) and the violence against women (the trapped female form). The historical connections between the old and new world are today a legacy of enduring violence that do not recognize ‘emancipation’. Here, McClafferty “speaks truth to power”: the human body trapped in a state of violence is naturalised by those who continue to inflict violence.[70]

Oliver Benoit

IMG_1981IMG_1982 IMG_1983

On the surface, Anima 1 is an abstract painting built up layer upon layer in oil and acrylic with bold vertical elements of collage. The structure of the composition is centred on four grey and mauve-painted pieces of canvas folded and flattened like soft arterial pipes. The central “pipes” contain a closed passage of vertical activity that is darker and less articulated than the emerging forms beyond the “barriers”. The surrounding surface is buoyant with energy in a variety of marks stained, scraped and dripped built into thick impasto as the layers crystalize into fully formed orange rectangles combed or scraped like putty with a spatula. These rectangles appear to hover and flow, emerge and dissolve, enter and escape, being absorbed and “blocked” by the three-dimensional “barriers”. To describe a complex abstract painting is to dissect and to analyse a breaking down of things.

The analytical philosopher John Campbell provides a useful parallel definition when looking at Benoit’s painting:

“Philosophy is thinking in slow motion. It breaks down, describes and assesses moves we ordinarily make at great speed – to do with our natural motivations and beliefs. It then becomes evident that alternatives are possible.”[71]

If the practice of philosophy is analogous to the practice of art, Benoit’s work proposes that the object of a painting is to slow down and analyse the ebb and flow of the creative act attending to the use of the brain for thought, vision and decision-making. The bold central structures in Anima 1 are the “barriers” – like a series of central nervous columns – through which the symbolic schemas[72] move. Benoit is examining how the brain filters “good” and “bad” ideas, in the painting process, and how we absorb and block influences and habits conscious and unconscious. A painting is a construction and therefore scrutinizing the conditions and act of painting can reveal truths about the self. The function of the brain and thought are explored through the act of painting providing the evidence for how we might know and understand the nature of one’s identity through observing the creative human mind at work.

Benoit’s work as both a painter and academic explore the role of identity. The push and pull between our ideas and our actions while painting is a microcosm for how we live and relate to society. The role of professional artists in contemporary Caribbean society is emergent. Benoit’s interest in the (re-)construction of identity through art also challenges the cultural indifference to artists and visual arts practice in society decades after the end of colonialism.[73]

The Venice Effect Futures

Grenada’s pavilion is now intertwined with the Venice Biennale’s history and Futures. The expanding Biennale’s mondialité enables a bridge (in some cases a lifeline) to form between the country’s local art scene and international art world discourse. For new countries, this is the most important ‘Venice effect’[74] where critical exposure and international networks for artists and their countries can be a catalyst for the creation of new art centres. Grenada can now become one of these new art centres.

Caribbean countries (and artists) who have exhibited in Venice representing the Bahamas [75], Cuba[76], Haiti[77], Jamaica[78], Costa Rica, Bermuda and the Dominican Republic[79] have used the Venice effect as a step for the establishment and validity of building their own authentic national arts identities in the Caribbean. Notably it is the Biennale model that has been exported with fruitful results. In 2015, Cuba held its 12th ‘Bienal de la Habana’[80] and Haiti opened up their ‘Ghetto Biennial’ to international artists while Bermuda, Martinique, Puerto Rico and Jamaica have developed exhibitions.[81] These new Biennials have taken on their own particular character contributing to the local and national fabric – like a visual arts carnival – an authentic grass-roots visual arts culture that can identify with the critical, experimental and temporary art shown on the world stage.[82] In effect, the new Biennials have helped establish a pluralism of art centres in the Caribbean.[83]

The Venice Biennale remains a non-commercial exhibition[84] and it is the connections made showing in Venice that are vital to raising awareness about Grenada as well as introducing her artists to the international art world.[85] The “Venice effect” [86] has become a key modus operandi for covering the costs to exhibit in Venice however this is dependent on the artist’s existing links with the international market (and secondary auction market) notoriously difficult to break into especially for Caribbean artists.[87] The commercial “Venice effect” has limited means to change new artists’ careers overnight, but the effect of showing in the Venice Biennale does have the power to introduce international art status to emerging artists and much needed exposure for new countries wanting to develop art institutions and infrastructure at home. Venice’s official lack of interest in arts funding means that countries must find alternative ways to raise the money to cover the pavilion, exhibition and transport costs.[88] Perhaps as the number of Caribbean art centres increases, more international collectors, foundations and artists will decide to ‘discover’ the region. In the meantime, it is imperative that there exist art institutions and government funding to capitalize on the money starting to trickle into the region.[89]

Viva viva la – Arts – Revolution[90]

The greatest area of development needed in the Caribbean now is in arts infrastructure.[91] Grenada’s artists have used their art entrepreneurial abilities to arrive in Venice with great success but now Grenada must respond to this historic first step to ensure Grenada returns to Venice in 2017. The economic benefits of building an arts infrastructure has proven time and again to improve the quality of life in communities.[92] Investing in arts (and cultural) infrastructure means developing institutions and initiatives that run public events like Biennials, develop artist residencies and educational workshops. And until there is a more buoyant international art market in Caribbean Art, artists and curators must continue to travel and exhibit internationally[93] to market Grenadian art and bring artists together in turn to promote their home institutions.[94]

Grenada’s Venice effect should work both ways now that a bridge has been formed with the contemporary art world. The presence of “Grenadian art” in the international art world is an opportunity for Grenada’s art institutions at home to build on this new status and identity. A Venice pavilion establishes an official national art identity that can be added to the existing political dialogues in Grenada with reference to Grenadian culture in the international ether similar to exhibiting in the CARICOM[95] “cluster” at the Milano Expo or winning gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show. Grenada’s creative communities should be recognized where there are existing political, economic and social networks that need art entrepreneurs and artists to lead cultural and aesthetic interests of Grenada’s national identity together and across the Caribbean Community.

Grenada’s Venice debut is fortunate to coincide with Enwezor’s inclusive global art constellation. The work of the four Grenadian artists has a new status and significance that represent both Grenada’s national arts identity and heritage. Venice’s Futures are now part of Grenada’s future. Grenada is a small country compared to the Caribbean countries that have already exhibited at the Biennale and have stronger national arts identities. However, Grenada’s presence has revealed present connections that will establish the international “conversations”[96] crucial to Grenada’s future legacies established in its first year at the Venice Biennale.

Frederika Adam is a photographer, curator and historian based in London.


Dunkley, D.A., Readings in Caribbean History and Culture: Breaking Ground (Lexington, 2011).

Enwezor, Okwui, “The Postcolonial Constellation: Contemporary Art in a State of Permanent Transition” in Nicholas Mirzoeff (ed.), The Visual Culture Reader (2014), pp. 552-69.

Gibson, Carrie, Empire’s Crossroads: A New History of the Caribbean (Macmillan, 2014).

Heuman, Gad, The Caribbean: A Brief History (Second Edition; Bloomsbury, 2014).

Poupeye, Veerle, Caribbean Art (Thames & Hudson, 1998).

Mosaka, Tumelo (ed.), Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art, Brooklyn Museum, NY (Philip Wilson, London, 2007).

Ulrich Obrist, Hans, Ways of Curating (Penguin, 2014).

Shalini Puri, The Grenada Revolution in the Caribbean Present: Operation Urgent Memory (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Steele, Beverly A., Grenada A History of its People (Macmillan, 2003).


[1] Oxford English Dictionary (OUP, 2008).

[2] Eduard Glissant’s concept of mondalité has become a keystone for current thinking about the nature of a global art world: juxtaposing the inherent pluralism of the local, national and international in art practice.

[3] Interview with Okwui Enwezor: Spence, Rachel, ‘Venice Biennale: Politics show’, Financial Times (1 May, 2105). (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[4] Okwui Enwezor quoted in La Biennale di Venezia, All the World’s Futures Arte 2015, (2015), p. 19.

[5] Enwezor, Okwui, “The Postcolonial Constellation: Contemporary Art in a State of Permanent Transition” in Nicholas Mirzoeff (ed.), The Visual Culture Reader (2014), pp. 552-69.

[6] “Nobody in the Caribbean is native to the environment” C.L.R. James’s Beyond a Boundary (1963) quoted in Renton, Dave, C.L.R. James: Cricket’s Philosopher King (2006), p. 15.

[7] Hurricane Ivan struck Grenada on Tuesday 7 September 2004 killing 39 people and destroying 80% of the infrastructure and 90% of the buildings on the island (estimated damage at the time was $1.1 billion). Tourism and agriculture came to a halt and signs of devastation are still evident on the island.

[8] Elements of Amerindian culture have survived through skills like basket weaving and vocabulary such as the word hurricane. It is an understatement to say that these petroglyphs (?c.900-1100 CE) are significant to the history of Grenada’s visual culture and are now at risk. The hope is to have at least Mt Rich listed by UNESCO. Although the works have never been dated, testing in 2013 established the condition and sustainability of these works. Allen, C.D., & Groom, K.M., Evaluation of Grenada’s “Carib Stones” via the Rock Stability Index, Applied Geography (2013), (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[9] The “Caribs”, originally from South America and in control of most of the Lesser Antilles by 1492, were named “Los Caribes” by the Spanish meaning “uncivilized” or “man-eater”. It is uncertain if the Caribs were cannibals but European usage of ‘uncivilized’ became a basis for enslaving these human beings. Heuman, Gad, The Caribbean (2014), p. 7. In 2011, there were 125 Caribs living in Grenada.

[10] Grenada’s colonial history starts with the ‘discovery’ of “La Conception” by Columbus in 1498 followed by the arrival of the Spanish (1520), British settlers (1609) and finally becoming a French colony (1649-1763).

[11] Caribs’ Leap/Western Deep (2002) juxtaposes Grenadians on the beach and figures (Caribs) falling (“leaping”) with miners descending into the deepest gold mine, Tautona near Johannesburg, South Africa. Commissioned by Artangel for Documenta XI as an edition of four. To date McQueen has shot two video works on Grenada (including “Ashes” (2014)) which is significant for both the island as a location, its history and the work to become part of Grenada’s national art identity. (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[12] This Treaty marked the end of the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) and stipulated that the British were obliged to protect Roman Catholicism on the island which remains today the main religion of Grenada.

[13] Many slaves came to Grenada from present day Ghana and Nigeria for more information see: Vaz, Neil, ‘African Origins of the Peoples of Grenada: 1709-1837’ M.A. Thesis (2011). (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[14] Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species by Quobna Ottobah Cugoano (c.1757-after 1791) was a Fanti born in Ghana and sold into slavery at 13 years old. In 1772 an English merchant took him from Grenada to England and he later worked for the artists Richard and Maria Cosway. He arrived on British soil the same year as the Somersett Case ruling which outlawed slavery in English common law and Cugoano became legally free, changed his name to John Stuart and converted to Christianity. (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[15] Julien Fédon was originally from Martinique (his mother was a free black slave and father was French) and owned the Belvidere estate on Grenada. Fédon was encouraged to lead a rebellion by Victor Hugues, a French republican commissioner who had defeated the British on Guadeloupe. Hugues spread the word about the French and Haitian Revolutions to inspire revolts on St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenada. Heuman, Gad, The Caribbean (2014), p. 85.

[16] The number of male to female slaves was given around 50:50. Official documents pertaining to the British colonial office for the West Indies and Grenada are held in the National Archives, Kew, 1574-1967: (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[17] “Legacies of British Slave-ownership is the umbrella for two projects tracing the impact of slave-ownership on the formation of modern Britain: the ESRC-funded Legacies of British Slave-ownership project, now complete, and the ESRC and AHRC-funded Structure and significance of British Caribbean slave-ownership 1763-1833” running from 2013-2015.”

[18] Indentured schemes could last for three to five years. Between 1834-65, 3,072 “liberated Africans” arrived, followed by 3,500 East Indians between 1856-85 and 1,000 or more “poor whites” who became known as “Mount Moritz Bajans”. Steele, Beverley A., Grenada: A History of its People (Macmillan Caribbean, 2003), pp. 196-97.

[19] Ninety per cent of Grenada’s nutmeg trees were destroyed by Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005). “Prior to 2004, the Industry was the major contributor to GDP and foreign exchange earnings and employment (Nutmeg revenue averaged $EC35 million per year for the period 2000 to 2004 and as an indicative example, in 2002 nutmeg and mace contributed 22.5 percent of Grenada’s total merchandise export).”   (accessed 24 July, 2015). Considered one of the best on the market it takes over 10 years to replant and rehabilitate trees to produce nutmeg for export.

[20] Steele (2003), p. 343. The number of people who left Grenada would have been around 1,900 as the population of Grenada in 1954 was 73,000. Richmond, Anthony H., The Colour Problem (Pelican, 1955), p. 215.

[21] St George’s University is one of the original “Big 4” of now sixty off-shore private medical schools in the Caribbean. The university’s ‘neo-colonial-style’ campus is next to the airport in the South West corner of the island. The student population is by nature transitory and does not fully integrate with the rest of island but has a very successful clinical placement scheme and is a crucial source of extended-stay tourism. See: and on the recent $750 million investment by a Canadian private-equity firm: (both accessed 24 July, 2015).

[22] An organization working to raise awareness about social issues is Groundation Grenada: Like many countries in the Caribbean, homosexuality continues to be illegal in Grenada. For a recent editorial on homosexuality in the Caribbean see Dr. Lawrence A. Joseph Now Grenada (28 May 2013): (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[23] Words and phrases of ‘Grenadian Creole French’ or Patois are still in use but native speakers are elderly and estimated at less than 2,000. Academic research by Curtis Jacob links the French Patois language with the history of slave resistance and the Maroons (runaway slaves) on Grenada. In 2009, a Grenada Creole Society was founded and in 2012 a history of the francophone Creole language was published. For more information see the video: “Bwa Nèg Mawon: A Story of Resistance of the Grenada Maroon”: (both accessed 10 August, 2015).

[24] (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[25] Omaowale, David, ‘The Experience of the Slave Trade and Slavery’ Big Drum Nation (January-April, 2007) Carnival traditions include acts of resistance re-enacted in the “Pierrot” or “Shakespeare Mas” where the contest between black and white pairs reciting Julius Caesar ‘correct’ each other by hitting the other with sticks on making a mistake. (both accessed 24 July, 2015).

[26] UK documents released in 2013 give Margaret Thatcher and her government’s response to the invasion. (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[27] The last of the Grenada 17 were released in 2009 on the BBC Caribbean (the service is now defunct): (accessed 24 July, 2015). The Grenada Human Rights Committee (GHRC) was founded in 1984 and ran a successful campaign to overturn the death sentences to life imprisonment for 14 of the Grenada 17 in 1991. In 2003, Amnesty International recognized GHRC’s report on the violation of human rights of the Grenada 17 including “the constitutionality and fairness of their detention.” (accessed 24 July, 2015). For an excellent seven-part film on the work of the GHRC’s history and work see “Prisoners of the Cold War” from part 1 on YouTube: (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[28] These boxes were later sighted by the Committee for Human Rights in Grenada as a violation of human rights. The Point Salines airport, started construction by Cubans during the Revolution, was renamed the Maurice Bishop International Airport in 2009.

[29] Hans Haacke ‘U.S. Isolation Box, Grenada, 1983′ (1984) was shown in a travelling exhibition by the artists’ collective ‘Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America’ at various sites in January to March, 1984. Haacke’s work deliberately provokes political issues highlighting social injustice and economic exploitation encapsulated in the questions asked in World Poll (2015) produced for the Giardini’s central pavilion of the 2015 Venice Biennale.

[30] It also puts Grenada into a small radical circle of Caribbean countries that have undergone revolutions in Haiti (1791-1804) and Cuba (1959) or who have been invaded by the US (Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 1915).

[31] Environmental sustainability and art have come together in an underwater sculpture park consisting of 65 works creating an artificial coral reef at Moilinere Bay by Jason deCaires Taylor. (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[32] McQueen quoted in the Press Release for exhibition of “Ashes”, Thomas Dane Gallery, London (2014) (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[33] Grenada’s documentary history is under threat: the National Archives of Grenada have been restricted since 2004 and closed since 2012. A new building is needed to house and preserve the collection. UNESCO has provided some funding towards digitisation and there is now academic and fundraising support from the Diasporic Literary Archives Network

[34] The official number in 2015 is 90 but Kenya and Costa Rica withdrew before the opening week. Paolo Barrata describes the changes necessary to expand by opening up the ‘Form of Exhibition’: (accessed 24 July, 2015). This year the expanded format included a ‘Special Project’ of four performances of Bellini’s Norma at La Fenice designed by Kara Walker.

[35] New Zealand has a pavilion at San Marco airport. This year’s Golden Lion for Best National Participation was awarded to Armenia’s Armenity on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni and there are other pavilions including Cuba located on small islands adding to the pilgrimage of discovery in the expanding Biennale experience.

[36] Haacke’s World Poll has found to date that 64% of the Venice Biennale audience is art world professionals. The Venice context is therefore an absolutely vital form of display and peer review for contemporary international artists.

[37] For example, Grenada has yet to establish a national art collection and an art school.

[38] The Seychelles is the smallest African state with a population of 90,000 just smaller than Grenada. In the 19th and 20th centuries it was a British colony and today is part of the same exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as Mauritius.

[39] The Republic of Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean 1,200 miles south east of the African continent. Like Grenada, the French and British fought over its colonial fate as a key island on the Eastern trade routes becoming a British colony in 1810. It is the only place in the world where remains of the Dodo bird has been found – the bird became extinct in 1681.

[40] The majority of the population of 24 million is of Bantu descent and it is the only country that is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations that was not formerly a British colony. Accessed 24 July, 2015.

[41] Dates of independence for the other four countries are: Mauritius (1968), The Seychelles (1976), Mongolia (1990) and Mozambique (1975).

[42] Mongolia is a nomadic, land-locked country bordering Russia and China, east of Kazakhstan and is the largest country (population 3 million) out of the five new countries.

[43] Tuvalu and the Maldives established pavilions at the Biennale in 2013 and their artists have produced work specifically to highlight the fact that their countries are sinking due to rising sea levels.

[44] During the opening week of the 2015 Biennale, the city of Venice was abuzz with political protest surrounding the cruise ships that are tugged though the canal contributing to Venice’s demise and yet the powers that be refuse to act. Venice is sinking and the political and social activism inherent in Enwezor’s curatorial approach to this year’s Biennale are highly appropriate for a city long taken for granted by those who profit from the Venice brand without care for the consequences to its fragile and doomed ecosystem. Somers Cocks, Anna, “Hi, Biennale Crowd: Did you know Venice is dying for these six reasons?”, The Art Newspaper Venice Biennale Guide 2015, pp. 32-33. To contact Anna Somers Cocks about what you can do to save Venice email her on:

[45] The African national pavilions: Angola, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe, along with the art collective Invisible Borders, and African artists from Congo, Ethiopia and El Anatsui from Ghana who won the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. Said-Moorhouse, Lauren, ‘Why Africa is the buzz at this year’s Venice Biennale’ (29 June, 2015). For a full list of African artists: (both accessed 24 July, 2015).

[46] As well as the Caribbean and Indian diasporas.

[47] Almost all newspapers and mainstream international art press note that Enwezor is the first African curator of the Biennale. Online magazines and journals specializing in black art, such as Culture Type, have provided greater analysis and statistics (“over 35 black artists are participating”) regarding the number and name of black artists included this year including Valentine, Victoria, ‘Okwui Enwezor’s Vision for Venice Biennale is Right Up Front’, Culture Type (7 May, 2015). (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[48] Enwezor’s Biennale is being called “a Milestone for Post-colonial Thought” Azim, Zalike, Inside/Out MoMa Blog (5 August, 2015) (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[49] In addition to the countries represented in Indigenous Voices for the Latin American Pavilion (IILA), Arsenale, Haiti is the location for the film Halka/Haiti 18°48’05” N 72°23’01”W made for the Polish pavilion and Graham Fagen has produced a version of Robert Burn’s “Slave Lament” sung by Jamaican Reggae artist Ghetto Priest in Scotland + Venice, Palazzo Fontana.

[50] Chris Ofili is a British painter based in Trinidad and Tobago. His paintings are featured in the exhibition All the World’s Futures in the Arsenale..

[51] Doig is a British painter based in Trinidad and Tobago. Peter Doig is at the Palazzetto Tito organized by Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa and it is his first solo exhibition in Italy.

[52] Forward Home: The Power of the Caribbean Diaspora (2012) a film directed by Lisa Wickman. (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[53] “Linkage between violent criminal activities and drugs. June 5, 2002 killing of Kenson “Ashes” Baptiste of Mt. Craven, St Patrick’s, in what was reported to be a drug deal gone sour.” Grenada Drug Information Network (GRENDIN), Annual Report (January, 2003), item xii, p. 31. (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[54] ‘Full Circle: Drugs trafficking in the Caribbean – An old route regains popularity with drugs gangs.’ The Economist (24 May, 2014). (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[55] Aspden, Peter, ‘Interview: Steve McQueen on telling the truth in Hollywood’, Financial Times (3 October, 2014). (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[56] To view an interview with McQueen on the making of “Ashes” produced for the Venice Biennale YouTube Channel see: (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[57] Roman Krznaric’s definition of empathy: “is the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions.” Krznaric, Roman, Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution (Random House, 2014), p. x.

[58] Francesco Elisei is an experienced curator who has worked with a number of countries showing in Venice for the first time including Bangladesh and the Istituto Italo-Latino Americano (IILA).

[59] From logistics to funding, Luisa Flora and the Officina delle Zattere arranged for the pavilion and the essential ground work in Venice to exhibit as an official pavilion in the Biennale.

[60] The busy location of the Grenada Pavilion in Dorsoduro has attracted hundreds of visitors each day including tourists passing by on their way from the Zattere vaparetto stop to the Accademia, Guggenheim Collection or Santa Maria della Salute Church.

[61] Mains’ website:

[62] Enwezor, Okwui, Epilogue: ‘Iconoclasm, Iconophobia, Iconophilia: On Charlie Hebdo’, All the World’s Futures: Biennale Art 2015 Exhibition (2015), pp. 549-51.

[63] The five-year insurgency led by Boko Haram in Nigeria has killed as many as 10,000 people. On 3 January, 2015 an attack on Baga killed up to 2,000 people but was given less press coverage with the Hebdo attack in Paris. (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[64] Mains has included a short video of “Portraits for Cocoa Farmers” produced to accompany the painting in the pavilion providing useful context of his project. Main’s website:

[65] Since Hurricane Ivan, cocoa has surpassed nutmeg as Grenada’s number one agricultural product. Although it appears, according to the World Bank, that nutmeg is on the rise again. (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[66] Yardley, William, ‘Obituary: Mott Green’, The New York Times (9 June, 2013). Mott Green (1966-2013), founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company, is profiled in a film by Kum-Kum Bhavanani Nothing Like Chocolate (2012).

[67] The Diamond Chocolate Company (producing “Jouvay” chocolate bars) factory opened in 2014 and is owned by the Grenada Government and L.A. Burdick. In 2011 L.A. Burdick established the charity Cocoa Farmers Future Initiative (CFFI) to help protect the biodiversity and environment for the cocoa industry and its independent cocoa farmers while improving the farming techniques and conditions for the farmers themselves. ( See also: Grenada Cocoa Association ( In 2015, the same week as the opening of the Venice Biennale, Grenada hosted its first ‘Chocolate Fest’. (

[68] “Meet the Farmers” contains further interviews with cocoa farmers from Crayfish Bay available on YouTube: (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[69] Grenada’s chocolate revolution is based on the transparency of the source of the chocolate. In the global cocoa industry it is very difficult for confectionary companies to know where the cocoa comes from, that many are deliberately undermining the free trade mark and all the while cocoa farms, notably in Africa, are notorious for violating human rights by exploiting child labour. (accessed 10 August, 2015). The image Mains projects of the Grenada cocoa industry stands in stark contrast to the large scale industrial cocoa industry represented in Ibrahim Mahama’s installation at the Arsenale.

[70] McClafferty’s website:

[71]John Campbell’s website:; Campbell quoted on Brian Leiter’s website: (both accessed 10 August, 2015).

[72] Symbolic schema in cognitive development refers to the mental actions we use to understand and to solve problems.

[73] Benoit’s website:

[74] In the international art market, “the Venice effect” refers to the correlation between enthusiastic interest in an artist’s work at the Venice Biennale and – in a matter of weeks – an increase in the value of the artist’s work at Art Basel or Frieze Art Fair. Frieze Art New York was held 14-17 May, 2015 capitalizing on this year’s earlier Venice Biennale opening. Olav Velthuis’ research on “the Venice effect” has found that the overlap between business and art is exercised in Venice regardless of the commercial ban and that many artists rely on their dealers to help with shipping and installation costs for the Biennale knowing that exhibiting in Venice will inevitably convert to higher sales. (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[75] Tavares Strachan represented the Bahamas in their first national pavilion in 2013. The Bahamas do not have a national pavilion in 2015 “due to other commitments in May 2015” but in the meantime the painter Lavar Munro was invited to exhibit in All the World’s Futures. Amanda Coulson quotation: (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[76] Cuba’s first national pavilion was in 1976. This year’s national pavilion “The Artist between Individuality and Context” is located on the island of San Servolo.

[77] Haiti had its first and only national pavilion(s) to date in 2011. Although not showing in 2015, Haiti has been transported to Venice in the Poland Pavilion by the Polish (New York-based) artists C.T. Jasper and Joanna Malinowska with Halka/Haiti 18°48’05” N 72°23’01”W. The fourth Ghetto Biennale will take place in November-December 2015.

[78] Arthur Simms represented Jamaica at the Venice Biennale in 2001.

[79] The Dominican Republic artists’ collective Quintapata showed in 2013 as part of the Italo-Latin-Americano including artists from Cuba and Haiti. The IILA is based in Rome.

[80]The Havana Biennial (established in 1984) was held 22 May-22 June, 2015.

[81] San Juan Poly/Graphic Triennial (; The next Bermuda Biennial is in 2016 (; The first BIAC Martinique was held in 2014 (; Jamaica rebranded its Annual National exhibition to a “Biennial” in 2002. This year (7 December 2014-15 March 2015) it included for the first time artists from other Caribbean countries including work by the Grenadian artist Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe.

[82] Smythe-Johnson, Nicole, ‘What is a Biennial? Part I – The Matter of Origins’ National Gallery of Jamaica blog (14 November, 2014). (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[83] Ulrich Obrist, Hans (2014), pp. 128-9.

[84] The Venice Biennale introduced a sales ban from 1968-1973 altering the nature and purpose of the exhibition into a non-commercial and experimental platform that has inspired many now well-established and alternative Biennials. For a list of the recognised Biennials worldwide:

[85] Susan Mains and Asher Mains have been invited to take part in Brazil’s first TrioBienal opening in September 2015. The TRIO Biennial (6 September-8 December, 2015) for three-dimensional work is directed by Alexandre Murucci and Curated by Marcus de Lontra Costa with the theme: “Who said that tomorrow doesn’t exist?”   (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[86] Spiegler, Marc, ‘The Venice effect: Ruff, Neuenschwander, Orozco, Balka, Wallinger and Vezzoli are among the artists whose sales have been boosted by their presence at the Biennale’, The Art Newspaper (June, 2005) and Olav Velthuis, “The Venice Effect”, The Art Newspaper Magazine (June 2011). There is also the “Frieze effect” which refers to the overlap in the conduct of art fairs taking on the seriousness of the Biennials with talks and curatorial elements. Andrew Stefan Weiner, ‘Frieze New York, Art Agenda (15 May, 2015).

[87] Breaking into the international art market is notoriously difficult. ‘Caribbean Art’ is not an autonomous global market category and instead included in sales with ‘African’, ‘Latin American’, ‘Emerging’, ‘Modern’ and ‘Contemporary Art’. A quick search on Christies and Sotheby’s websites have very little contemporary Caribbean art coming to auction and the listings under ‘Caribbean’ tend to be historical or colonial objects, maps, books and luxury real estate.

[88] There is a noted trend in Venice to look to private funding rather than public funds to support exhibitions.

[89] 2015 marks the creation of: the Davidoff Art Initiative (DAI)’s residencies for artists from the Caribbean to bring non-Caribbean artists to the Dominican Republic and the FT/Oppenheimer Funds Emerging Voices Awards.. For more information on these programs:; See also: (both accessed 24 July, 2015).

[90] “Viva viva la Revolution” is lyrics from the Mighty Sparrow (Slinger Francisco)’s calypso “Grenada under Siege” (1983). Francisco (born 1935) is one of the best-known calypso and soca artists of all time. He was born in Grenada and grew up in Trinidad.

[91] Amanda Coulson, Director of the National Art Gallery on art in the Bahamas: “What exists here is a very high level of creativity in all the arts…Yet the country also suffers from a dramatic deficit in terms of infrastructure, as well as practical and theoretical education. There are only a few people actually trained as art historians, art handlers, restorers (crucial in this tropical climate!) or art critics and, generally, it’s the artists who have to piece things together in a long process of ‘learning by doing’.” Dan Fox, ‘Island Life’, Frieze (April, 2014). (accessed 10 August, 2015).

[92] See: Zabel, Laura “Six Creative Ways artists can improve communities’, The Guardian (12 February, 2015) and investing in “creative economy”: (both accessed 10 August, 2015).

[93] For example, in 2009 with the support of Culturesfrance the exhibition “The Global Caribbean” was organized to address the lack of Caribbean art in the art market and to help Caribbean artists make connections “for those of “creole” cultures” See also Asquith, Wendy, Open Arts Journal, Issue 2 (Winter, 2013-14). (accessed 24 July, 2015).

[94] Grenada’s Arts Council, founded in 1964, became of a member of the International Federation of Arts Council and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) in 2008.

[95] The theme of the 2015 Expo Milano is “Feeding the Planet – Energy for Life”. Grenada is showing as part of The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in a ‘cluster’ along with eight other Caribbean countries (Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname).

[96] Trinidadian Christopher Cozier calls for the need for “conversations” between Caribbean locations and their critical “outside”. Wainwright, Leon on: (accessed 24 July, 2015).