Photography - Issue #15
Believing there to be a link between an under-explored aspect of Caribbean adolescent masculinity and the freedom of bodies in the ocean, I set out to document boys’ interaction with the sea. Created over the last decade, the photographs that make up my work, Circa No Future, capture manhood, snippets of vulnerability and moments of abstraction that often go unrecognised in the day-to-day. The ocean itself takes on a personality - the embracing mother providing a safe space for being - which is both archetypal and poignant. The boys climb a large rock, proving their manhood through endurance. They fearlessly jump and become submerged in a moment of innocent unawareness. They emerge having proven themselves. The relationship between the boys and I is also explored within this paradigm. They are aware of me while posturing, but lose self-awareness when they sink into the water.
These images of the boys from Circa No Future are juxtaposed with photographs from Coral Survey. This later body of work shows various marine organisms that make up the greater ecosystem in which these boys are swimming. Through this series, I show the complexity of these environments in an attempt to shift people’s perception of the Caribbean Sea and what is understood of it. My documentation of this environment takes on a citizen-scientist approach - it is an attempt to create an ecological archive as a way to show visible changes that are happening within the marine environment over time as both coral deterioration and regeneration are in constant flux. The Black bodies of the boys from Circa No Future and the multi-species from Coral Survey share a lack of representation in images of the islands, which has made them both invisible, particularly in relation to the dominant narrative of the Caribbean, which has typically been framed through the lens of tourism.
I want viewers to understand that the Caribbean is not just a site of escapism for the developed world. We who live here are human beings living on multi-faceted, fractured islands scattered in the sea. We are trying to reconcile our own identities with the impacts of our colonial past, which have extracted and manipulated significant aspects of the physical environment while destroying a lot of our human and multi-species Indigenous populations. We are trying to survive in physical environments that are vulnerable to both natural and man-made catastrophes due to this extractive history.
Circa No Future