Black, Negro, Mulatto, Chabin, Chapé.

Such a wide range of words to describe complexions in Guadeloupe. Now... Lucky ? Oddly enough being lucky is not being “ too ” black ! The word chapé really shows how centuries of slavery and colonial ideology have impacted the way Guadeloupeans —and overall car


ibbean people — see themselves as black people. They’ve been forced to, then got used to symbolically “erase” their blackness (behavior, culture, even skin) to mimic the white model, the “ultimate” archetype : masters of the past, ideal of their present.

“ Black skin, white masks ” (named after Frantz Fanon’s essay) is a collection of pieces designed to compensate for “lack of healing”. I intend with this work to give tangible form to the damages of colonial ideology on colored people.

The pieces of this collection are built with a mixture of molasses and coal. The use of this material is symbolic, it is a reference to the Mas a Kongo (Congolese Mask) one of the typical “desguise” of the guadeloupean carnival. This “costume” appeared during the colonial era, when slaves would apply this mixture on their skin to mock new ariving slaves and manifest how blacker, more uneducated, uncivilized and savage they were compare to them. A blackface, portrayed by black people themselves : the sad result of a colonial brainwash. Fortunately, the symbolic behind this disguise is different nowadays, but our society is still marked by a colorism peddled thru generation with the remanent use of the words I mentioned in my introduction.

Using this medium for designing a collection of decorative objets is a statement to reverse its original symbolic. The solidified mixture of molasses and coal embodies and celebrates blackness in diversity and identity. It is randomly burnt to whiteness to materialize the ravages of black shaming on those strong pieces of “black skin”. Their integrity is altered to conform to colonial standard. There is the “ white mask ”.

“ Pran tiban-la, sizé... ” says the storyteller.
... this is nothing but the true story of our unwounded scars.

Pictures from the exhibition are courtesy of Ronald Smits and Dutch Invertuals

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October 2020


Furniture, Seating, Installation and Scenography


Molasses, coal