BLACK LIGHT VOID Dark Visions of the CaribbeanProduct no.: HP267
Edited by Marsha Pearce
In Black Light Void: Dark Visions of the Caribbean, Marsha Pearce curates a collection of paintings and short stories to explore sensations of place and identity. The anthology casts tropical place in a different light, going beyond what island sunlight renders visible – beyond what we already know, or think we know – to a space in which the imagination offers illumination. The book makes an argument for seeing the Caribbean in the dark. Expanding the discourse on opacity, it proposes darkness as a critical space for Caribbean aesthetic practices; darkness as a space that resists easy, transparent readings of the Other. Pearce asks: What stories lie beyond those experiences lit up by the sun – the light that is a defining feature of the tropics?
Through a dialogic presentation of work by Trinidadian contemporary visual artist Edward Bowen, and short stories by Trinidadian, award-winning writers Kevin Jared Hosein, Barbara Jenkins, Sharon Millar, Amílcar Sanatan, Portia Subran and Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw, Pearce shapes a journey into the dark and unpredictable. The collection’s ekphrastic format is a call and response experience in which the reader is expected to participate and make meanings – reflecting on self and responding – in the amalgam of image and word.
Black Light Void is beautiful and serious work. In a book that considers how we see, we experience Edward Bowen’s paintings, which are for me, about light coming out of darkness and of darkness within the light – paintings that have their deep roots in drawing and yet display a freedom of movement, flickering to their own beat. These works are truly of the Caribbean, and yet rarely display any of the usual tropes that might suggest that. The paintings are one of the most significant bodies of work to have been made in the Caribbean region over the last thirty years. PETER DOIG is a Contemporary Artist
What happens when visual and narrative texts encounter each other? In Black Light Void we experience Edward Bowen’s canvases in the company of fictional characters whose dreams, cruelties and wonder match our own. Moving between painting and prose as we face our deepest fears and desires, we find that the past shapes what we think we are seeing for the first time, and that it can also be supplanted by new textures of insight and foreboding. What a beautiful text. FAITH SMITH
Black Light Void is a provocation. It challenges us to see in the dark. The Caribbean has produced fewer critics than artists, and Marsha Pearce, a very fine art critic and editor, has taken on the task of bringing together the visual and literary arts into an exciting conversation that pushes us to find the light as we explore the dark but highly charged recesses in our own heads where new identities can be imagined and realised, and original narratives created. This rich and beautiful book, with Pearce’s engagingly written opening essay, could not have appeared at a better time, as we eagerly re-engage with our literary arts. We owe Pearce a great debt for assembling a treasure trove of remarkable images by a most enigmatic and gifted artist and stories by daring, accomplished authors who write back to them movingly and surprisingly and always with originality, capturing both the menace and comfort in the experience, and provoking our own personal responses. The interplay of the associations between the visual and literary allows us all a welcome opportunity to explore the often unarticulated nature, form and rhythm of our lives. The result is a unique and important contribution to our 21st century cultural and intellectual life. MARINA SALANDY-BROWN is the Founder and President of Bocas Lit Fest