TS12 – Jeffrey Meris
Transforming Spaces 2012 will engage in an exciting new exercise — a curated tour with a single theme. In conjunction with the Creative Nassau Initiative — a local committee of artists, designers, craftspeople and writers working to have Nassau designated a UNESCO City of Craft and Folk art — present FIBRE.
This installation by Jeffrey Meris has been selected to fill the prestigious, prominent center space at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. Jeffrey describes his concept for Transforming Spaces 2012 below:
The Middle Passage- three thousand seven hundred miles of onerous oceans; heralded the production of the cotton plant in The New World some 300 years ago. New Worlds stabilized by agriculture essentially sugar and cotton. The Cotton plant has played an intricate role in the formation of The Caribbean needless to say the Bahamas. Twelve million human beings displaced to become cotton planters, pickers and processors.
As it relates to Transforming Spaces: Fibre, I plan on investigating cotton in the historical sense of it being a catalyst for New World slavery and Afro-Caribbean population. Tagged “The Middle Passage” the installation of two walls of assembled cotton will function as a passage from one realm to another. Each cotton fiber would be representative of a life taken from one land to another (in the same sense that cotton is being placed in an interior gallery setting).
The cotton fibers will mimic a claustrophobic environment where the audience has to interact with the piece both physically and visually. Each person that enters the walls of “The Middle Passage” enters at a point at which the opening is non fibrous at all but instead slightly wider and better lighten than the exit.
As one comes closer to the exit the opening is tighter, the cotton becomes more bulky and there is less light –which eventually fades into darkness and the audience has to orient themselves by means of texture. You have to squeeze your way out. This would be the experience of the actual middle passage; uncertainty, fear, darkness, human packed sardines, maybe even death.
The work should be installed in an indoor setting where lighting can be controlled and space can be configured into a corridor.
Just as the cotton fiber puts a strain on the earth’s natural resources so has cotton disturbed civilization for many West African cultures; hence the aim here is to create an environment that appears to be comfortable but has the potential to create discomposure.
One should realize the many changes the cultivation of cotton in the Caribbean has had on diverse Diasporas. Cotton has created the effect of “The Middle Passage.”
3-D model constructed wit the help of Gerard Johnson and architect major at C.O.B. Photography by Steffon Grant.