Artists Janet Cook-Rutnik and Edgar Endress and anthropologist Lori Lee will be presenting the 2011 edition of their ongoing Transfer Project at Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts. The opening of the show, Transfer 2011, will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, March. The project attempts to evoke critical thinking about the processes of migration in the islands and encourage people to explore the history and the present nature of migration in the Virgin Islands. A central focus of the project is the transfer of the islands from the Danish to the United States in 1917.
This year the project will feature several new pieces that examine migration and re-contextualize history from multiple vantage points. A video projection of St. Thomas Eudora Kean High School’s ROTC drill team called “Stomp” evokes the multi-layered history of the islands, particularly ritual, gender, and cultural continuity and transformation. The installation in the center room of the gallery, upon first appearance, will look similar to a Danish West Indian parlor room in the era of Transfer. Upon closer inspection, the viewer will discover several transformations that emphasize the local history, migration, and the lives of individuals who shaped this historical moment. A third piece, “Red Birds,” superimposes images of animals over historic photographs. The animals represent the fable of the Caribbean as a utopia, while at the same time representing migratory beings. The historic photographs represent realism. The banners beneath the photographs proclaim “I maintain,” which emphasizes the endurance of local culture despite the ruptures wrought by migration.
We are interested in collecting the stories of individuals who received passports to travel around the time of the transfer of the islands from the Danish to the United States (see www.transferproject.vi). The main purpose is to return focus to the people: who they were, where they were going, where they were coming from and why. We want to bring the focus back to the people of the Caribbean, their culture and their heritage, which is interwoven with threads of migrations, and away from the natural landscapes that many tourists seek. If you have information about these individuals, their ancestors or their descendants, please contact the Transfer Project at Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts. There will also be a “living history” table to share and record new information.
The show will be held from March 18 to April 30. Teachers are invited to bring their students and should call CMCA to set up a time.
For additional information, contact Janet Cook-Rutnik at 693-8069 or Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts at 772-2622 or www.cmcarts.org.