by Angelique V. Nixon
Although the Caribbean is celebrated as a creolised “mix-up” space, there is much silence around race and Blackness in particular that simplify ancestry and celebrate a mixed-race or multicultural utopia. But the system of colourism remains in place, yet it ruptures within sites of families that are mixed race and working class, who resist silence and passing. “Troubling Identities” represents these issues at the intersections of race, colour, gender, class, and sexuality in The Bahamas specifically and the Caribbean more broadly. Through family photographs, poetry, and digital collage, this multimedia work seeks to make visible the submerged and vexed sexual-racial relationships that make up the Caribbean family.
“Troubling Identities” was originally featured at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, for their 7th National Exhibition: Antillean: an Ecology. (Nassau, The Bahamas. Dec 2014 – May 2015); It was also featured at the HilgerBrotKunsthalle in Vienna, Austria, “Nassau Calling: Art in The Bahamas (Re)-visited.” (Curated by Amanda Coulson. Sept – Nov 2015.)
“Troubling Identities” is also offered here as a Tribute to Michelle Cliff because she too troubles identities, claims Blackness, and speaks out against silences. The poem and artwork are inspired in many ways by the artist’s engagement with Cliff as a reader and scholar of her work.
“Her books inspired me to be a writer. Her words and poetry especially sparked my own fire and courage to be fearless and defiant in my art.”
-Angelique V. Nixon
Angelique V. Nixon is writer, artist, teacher, scholar, activist, and poet—born and raised in Nassau, The Bahamas and currently based in Trinidad and Tobago, where she is a Lecturer at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the UWI, St. Augustine. She holds a Ph.D. in English specialising in Caribbean literature, postcolonial studies, women and gender studies from the University of Florida, and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Africana Studies at New York University. Her research, cultural criticism, and poetry have been published widely; and her artwork has been featured at several exhibitions in the Caribbean and Europe. Her scholarly book Resisting Paradise: Tourism, Diaspora, and Sexuality in Caribbean Culture (University Press of Mississippi, 2015) won the Caribbean Studies Association 2016 Barbara T. Christian Award for Best Book in the Humanities. She is author of the poetry and art chapbook titled Saltwater Healing – A Myth Memoir and Poems (Poinciana Paper Press, 2013). Angelique is active in Caribbean movements for sexual and gender justice. She serves on the working board of CAISO, and she is a member of the Alliance for Justice and Diversity T&T. Angelique strives through her activism, writing, and art to disrupt silences, challenge systems of oppression, and carve spaces for resistance and desire.