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TOSTEM installation

by George Marks

The public is invited to a final viewing and public forum on three new works of art created as the result of  a TOSTEM Artist in Residency Project focused on investigations into the history and effects of slavery. This event, takes place 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20 at NUNU Arts and Culture Collective.

Along with viewing works by Mark Brown of St. John, Antigua, and Alex Bien-Aime of Port-a-Prince, Haiti, those attending are invited to be part of the installation of artist George Marks’ multi-media contribution, “2200.”

“2200,” includes 22 panels of various images and measured to the size allotted on slave transport ships, for children. The panels will be displayed in rows of seven, with one remaining panel inserted into a specially designed box that utilizes surface reflection to include the image of the viewer into the work. Those participating in the installation will each select one of the panels and then walk it over to Marks, who will receive the piece and then affix to the wall. The last panel will be slid into the box.

“I wanted people, the public to handle the work in some way and the installation should be hung either in part or in its entirety,” Marks said. “During my research both before and during the residency, I found that many young people and adults, regardless of race, did not relate to the topic.”

The installation process will be filmed by documentary film maker Bennett Rhodes, and that film will accompany the piece as a directive for future installations. At each of the TOSTEM locations where works are to be exhibited, others will repeat the process, making their participation, like those in Arnaudville, also part of the work.

TOSTEM (Tourisme autour des Sites de la Traite, de l’Esclavage et de leurs Mémoires) the French acronym for Cultural Tourism through the Footsteps of Slavery, is a partnership of tourist agents, cultural experts, historians and artists committed to strengthening cultural tourism and retelling the story of slavery –  only this time, from the perspective of those who were the enslaved. TOSTEM partners are located in France, Senegal, Cameroon, Antigua and Haiti.

The TOSTEM Artist in Residence Project uses art as a means to further discussions. The TOSTEM international exhibition begins this year in Nantes, France. The exhibition then travels to locations in partner countries.

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