The St. Croix Landmarks Society will hold an exhibition of works by Virgin Islands artists La Vaughn Belle and Monica Marin entitled “The Great House: Reimagining Power, Space and History.” The show is comprised of drawings, installations, performances, video and photography that seek to create a new dialogue with the Great House of the Whim Plantation Museum. The exhibition will open with a reception from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, and close with an “artist talk” on Saturday, April 16, at 3 p.m. The Whim Plantation Museum is located in Frederiksted, St. Croix.
The show seeks to interrogate the hierarchy of the plantation society and the narrative of the “Great House.” Commenting on the exhibit Belle said, “Typically ‘Great Houses’ function as a monument to power and permanence. Inside they are filled with the accoutrements of wealth -- fine dishes, fine linen, fine furniture -- all conveying the idea of cultural superiority. In this exhibit we want to transform that narrative by including other stories, both personal and historical, that are often invisible when you visit Whim.” Among Belle’s work in the exhibition will be a video that ties in the childhood story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” playing with ideas of intrusion and belonging. Other pieces are based on her research while in Denmark in 2008 that include a collection of hand drawn plates and an installation with a haunting portrait of a Danish West Indian woman.
Marin will include several works that reflect on the nature of memory, and the construction of history. She recounts some of her earliest memories of Whim through a series of photos that reflect personal and public memory as the viewer is asked to contribute their own recollections. Another work will highlight the masquerade tradition and its cultural significance as an act of resistance.
The exhibition is the first time the St. Croix Landmarks Society has given such access and support to artists to critically engage the museum. The exhibit is expected to be thoughtful, provoking and exciting, as many of the pieces will actively engage the viewers as participants.
Both Belle and Marin have exhibited throughout the Caribbean, the U.S. and Europe. This exhibition project is jointly supported by a grant from the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.