How do we experience the land and the sea as containers or agents of memory? How can inherited and personal rituals amplify our interconnectedness with the landscapes we inhabit?

In this film screening and conversation, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons (Cuba/USA) and Deborah Jack (St. Maarten/Netherlands) discuss the similarities and differences between their multidisciplinary practices and creative engagement with cultural memory and personal histories. Through film and sound, these two artists consider the ongoing impacts of colonization, trans-cultural identities, and contemporary diasporic experiences across the Caribbean region. Sharing artworks including Campos-Pons’ collection of photography, film, and performances and Jack’s film The Water Between Us Remembers…so We Carry This History On Our Skin…long For A Sea-bath And Hope The Salt Will Heal What Ails Us, they immerse viewers in the specificities of their nations’ histories as they breathe power into inherited traditions and new mythologies that center island and oceanic landscapes as spaces of healing and rebirth.

Access the event recording and artist bios here.

Lingering: reflections, questions, and scores for continued engagement

in collaboration with Ayaka Fujii

What is your relationship to the sea?

Where do you feel the sea in your body?

Where does your body find restoration?

Where are your edges?

Where do your borders become mutable?

Where is your reservoir?

Where do the shorelines within you meet?

Where is your geography calling you?

Contemplations for being ‘here’:
soften your edges.
your feet making contact with the ground
the small dance happening in stillness and inner movement
your body as a constellation of waves, arriving and departing
the borderlessness between your skin and space
to feel a letting and listening
to feel a deep connectedness
“we are the same thing”*
a reservoir in the soft places
in the continuum of time,
behind you, here, and before you
in a duet with the waters of your body
the waters of the air
of the soil
of the rivers and seas
“the saliva / the amniotic waters /
that flow / in / under / ground / streams” **
waters that pull and push at your
softened edges
that erode the borders of time to shape a world continually remade
by the accumulation of histories and memory’s fluidity
currents that intertwine life and death and life again
to draw up the threads of (re)memory
that tangle in the spaces between
to “press your ear to the wind” **
to be “many in one” *
like how a wave moves through time.

* “We are the same thing. Saltwater, sweetwater, freshwater. This is not art. This is life – unfair, unfinished, disrupting, brutal, gorgeous, full of promise. Find imbalance. Being many in one. Finding balance, finding justice, find [that] inside us, we are the same thing. A tornado, a hurricane, a small fountain. Embodiment of the history of power, of inclusion, exclusion. We are the same thing.” (Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons)

** Foremothers (2002) by Deborah Jack.

More Resources

Read The Sea Is History by Derek Walcott – Poems | Academy of American Poets

Read Toni Morrison, “The Site of Memory”

Read “The Sea and the Breathing” by Astrida Neimanis

Listen to “The Nature of All Our Forms”: María Magdalena Campos-Pons on Performance Art

See Magda’s recent and ongoing project When We Gather, which marked the election of the first woman to the Vice Presidential office

Stay tuned for more talks and collaborations from Magda’s initiative Engine for Art, Democracy, and Justice at Vanderbilt University

Read about Deborah’s work in her own works in ForgottenLands Vol. 3

See Deborah’s work in the online exhibition Seascape Poetics, Curated by Bettina Pérez Martínez

Read the recent BOMB Magazine article on Deborah’s work Mare Incognitum / Unknown Sea: Deborah Jack Interviewed

Read About Evidence: A Conversation between Deborah Jack & Patricia Ortega-Miranda – Now Be Here

Stay tuned for more news about Deborah Jack’s solo exhibition at Pen + Brush Gallery in September 2021

Stay Up-to-Date with the Artists’ Upcoming Works and Events

María Magdalena Campos-Pons — Gallery Wendi Norris