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CVC Lecture: Roshini Kempadoo “Black Gold to Dust”

April 6, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Lecture: “Black Gold to Dust: Visualizing Narratives and Slow Violence”
Tuesday, April 6, 2021 12:00 PM CDT Zoom Webinar, Link forthcoming

In 2015 via announcements made by ExxonMobil, I learnt of the offshore exploratory work for potential oil and gas extraction off the Essequibo coast, northwest Guyana in the disputed ocean waters with neighbouring Venezuela.  This artists presentation will present the artwork Like Gold Dust which was created while on the Artist International Residency at Artpace San Antonio, USA (2019). The artwork evokes narratives about everyday survival, economics, and special powers needed for the 21st century.  Its starting point are women narratives from two terrains, Guyana[1] and Texas, to explore relationships between environments and present life.

They are Wynter suggests, ‘hybrid-auto-instituting-languaging-storytelling species,’ narrating themselves into existence. Slow violence (Nixon, 2011) recognizes efforts by writers, activists and artists including Wynter, Da Silva, Roy, Maathai and Saro-Wiwa who rethink environmental activism for a planetary future. They enact responses to pernicious violations to the terrain and life experiences, particularly those who are disempowered and involuntarily displaced, caused by ecological neglect, corporate greed and colonial aftermath.

Like Gold Dust registers our time of increasing racism, violence, volatility, and the precarity that women of colour (as queer, bisexual or heterosexual figures) are experiencing in the here and now.

In May 2015 ExxonMobil announced the discovery of more than 90 meters of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs about 200 km off its coastline. The Liza-1 well would make it worth $40 billion at today’s international crude price. ExxonMobil followed by discoveries of further oil fields. ExxonMobil and Hess reported that new discoveries contain estimated resources exceeding 4 billion barrels of oil equivalent, potentially producing 750,000 barrels per day by 2025. The value of oil dwarfs the roughly $3 billion gross domestic product of Guyana. As Exxon continues development, the small nation is likely looking at a windfall in royalties. For a country of less than a million people, the find changes everything.

Roshini Kempadoo is a media artist, photographer and scholar. Her research, multimedia and photographic projects combine factual and fictional re-imaginings of contemporary experiences, histories and memories. Roshini has been active in documenting Caribbean communities, events, rights issues, and individuals in the UK and the Caribbean. She was instrumental in setting up Autograph, the Association of Black Photographers in the late 1980s, and worked as a documentary photographer for Format Picture Agency (1983 – 2003).

Her photography and artworks are created using montage, layering, narration and interactive techniques of production. They appear as photographs and screen-based interactive art installations to fictionalise Caribbean, UK and US archive material, objects, and spaces. She has recently completed the Spring 2019 International Artist-in-Residence @ Artpace, San Antonio, US creating the artwork Like Gold Dust. She is Reader with CREAM (Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media), at Westminster School of Arts, University of Westminster. She is represented by Autograph ABP, London. Link to Roshini Kempadoo’s website.

Image: Roshini Kempadoo (2019) from the series Like Gold Dust
Both events are free and open to the public. They are possible thanks to the generous financial support of the Anonymous Fund. The Center for Visual Cultures would also like to thank the Departments of Art, Art History, Communication Arts, Gender and Women’s Studies, The Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium, The Center for Culture, History and Environment, Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, The Center for Humanities, and The Institute for Research in the Humanities.