I see my art practice as an investigative tool, as a way to engage in dialogue, a platform for thinking and a means to develop knowledge. My work has evolved from figurative and symbolic explorations in painting to a variety of modes that include drawing, video, performance, installation and public intervention projects. Therefore, the emphasis of my work does not lie in the medium, but in creating a space to explore social contexts and collective narratives. History, film, soap-operas, fairy-tales and mythology all inform my work in that they are both narrative modes that I use as well as sites of investigation. I look for the narratives inscribed in various objects and places and find ways to add to them and at times subvert them. Because I live in the Virgin Islands, a place that has changed colonial hands seven times, the longest being Denmark and the last being the United States, I am particularly interested in the colonial and neocolonial narrative and how it shapes identity, memory and reality. (return to website)
Monday, March 30, 2009
Estado de Excepción, or State of Exception, is a series of nine collective exhibitions by the participating artists of the program Catedra de Arte de Conducta. This program was founded by artist Tania Bruguera in 2003 with the purpose of creating an alternative training space to investigate the limits of art and its relationship between life.
I participated on Monday, March 30 during the exhibition entitled “Advance Party”. The general theme for this show were works that engaged with the realm of children as a way to dialogue about collective memory, historical conditions and ideology.
My piece was a performance in which I dress my 11 month old daughter in the pioneer uniform and let her navigate the gallery space doing her usually activities: crawling, playing, etc... Entitled “Standard Issue” , the piece explores how the individual expresses oneself within a one-size-fits-all ideology.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
For Immediate Release
St. Croix-based LaVaughn Belle presents 'Hideaway', a group of pencil and paper cut-out pieces on display in Christiansted with an opening on February 19, 2009 5-8 pm at Maufé (the show runs until March 8). Hideaway is an extension of Belle's contribution to the Overdragelse group exhibition at Copenhagen-based artist collective Overgaden last August, and is arranged by Salt Gallery.
Overdragelse (in English, this means approximately Transfer) looked at the relationship between Denmark and their former colony, the Danish West Indies (today's U.S. Virgin Islands) in an attempt to understand the common history and cultural heritage between Denmark and the United States. Belle was one of the curators and artists in the group exhibit & Salt Gallery is now displaying her work at Christiansted's Maufé Gallery on St. Croix. A handmade 10-page book of cut-outs (photo attached) is part of the exhibit and is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen. The book's images and text are taken from the real-estate websites and magazines popular in the Virgin Islands that "sell" the islands as a fairy tale, an adventure, an escape, a hideaway.
With 'Collectible' (photo attached), Belle's color pencil drawings on paper plates mimic Danish commemorative plates from Colonial times. After her residency in Copenhagen, during which she produced the current body of work, Belle was intrigued that the topic of slavery was so rarely discussed in Danish society. The viewer can't help but look for similarities between Belle's plates and traditional Danish ceramics, yet he finds a wry humor in the use of paper plates. Paper is a forgettable and easily disposable material. Belle's work comments perhaps on Danish society's 'forgetting and disposing' of their history in a similar way and it is an important contribution to the discussion.
LaVaughn Belle was born in Trinidad in 1974 and works in a variety of media. Her work has been displayed in Havana, New York, Copenhagen and St. Croix.
Salt Gallery is an online art gallery and project management firm based in St. Croix, USVI representing artists from Europe, the US, and the Caribbean basin. Since Salt Gallery only exists on the world wide web, we organize openings in available spaces in St. Croix and the mainland US.
Contact: Tomas Lanner