Profile: Firelei Báez

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Like many unnamed art artifacts collected from the African continent, which are labeled with only their geographic provenance, Pendant references this practice and draws a parallel to my own experience as an afro Carribean woman. How difficult it is to draw out a specific lineage or heritage considering many of my ancestors were either murdered, kidnapped, sold or pushed out of their home countries without any written record of their existence. The only point of reference left then is the physical body. Édouard Glissant and David Hammons, both of whom share a similar diasporic history, express this feeling of an inexorable, heavy, bond to the body; which has to be addressed before, or as a tether to, other ideas. The titling of Pendant references the one contemporary means of mapping or accessing the past through the body, genetic testing. My own test chronologically references Benin, Granada, Spain and el Cibao, Dominican Republic/Haiti. The figure in the portrait, like an imagined ancestor, has all three spaces etched onto her body. However, as in much sci-fi, art gives us the power to distort the present and see how the world can be different. The figure is at once fully sensate and buoyant, beholden to and defiant of gravity. Scientific research continues to reveal the many ties between the body and spirit, (i.e genetic memory/trauma) and our ability to find valid modes of resistance, healing, and affirming from then.

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