New York City's Ford Foundation Gallery’s exhibition, Everything slackens in a wreck, explores the destructive nature of colonialism through the eyes of four artists. Curated by Trinidadian scholar and artist Andil Gosine, this collection both showcases the trauma and strength of underrepresented people; now on view until August 20.
In Khal Torabully’s poem about indentureship, Coolitude, he writes, “Everything slackens in a wreck.” He describes the dehumanising experiences of migrants trapped in the Indentureship program in the Caribbean from the 19th century, whose role was to replace the slaves that had worked there before abolition. These migrants engaged in what Gosine coined “wrecking work” – they innovatively challenged gender norms, fighting against the patriarchy to push for better living conditions and culture reform.

Similarly, Gosine’s curation intimately explores this history of hardship and the fight for survival. Highlighting the history of indentureship, this exhibition is the first major show to bring together visual artists who are descendants of indentured workers – Chinese Jamaican Margaret Chen, Indo-Trinidadian Wendy Nanan, Caribbean American Andrea Chung and Indo-Guadeloupean Kelly Sinnapah Mary.

Further, this collection explores this heritage throughout multiple generations, integrating works by older artists Chen and Nanan with those of younger artists Chung and Sinnapah Mary. Using various materials, from paint to paper-mâché to wood, these artists reimagine artifacts of history – they manipulate nature into something creative, symbolising the way migrants used what they had to survive through hardships. Through their art, they grieve their past while recognising the perseverance and craftiness of their ancestors.

Additionally, Andil Gosine and the collective Jahajee Sisters collaborated to produce a soundscape, which plays in The Ford Foundation’s indoor garden during the exhibition. The tape features women’s responses to the questions, “What brings you joy? What brings you comfort?” and aims to bring attention to and dismantle gender-based violence within New York City’s Indo-Caribbean community. The Ford Foundation will also offer other educational materials – such as a reading library, videos, and publications – to help visitors find peace and renewal in destruction, just like these artists have.
Everything slackens in a wreck is now on view at Ford Foundation, 320 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017 (USA) until August 20.
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Installation View.jpg
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Andrea Chung
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Kelly Sinnapah Mary
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Margaret Chen
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Wendy Nanan