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Dreading the Map

CARICUK’s third provocation sets the keynote for the concept of race as in/security, and is an original art installation by Sonia Barrett, called ‘Dreading the Map’, which was installed in the Map Room of the Royal Geographical Society building during March 2021.  Using carefully curated paper maps of the Caribbean and UK that have been shredded into strips, the artist and several black women co-creators used African-Caribbean hair styling techniques to plait the shredded maps.  Culturally, such female spaces of hair styling are filled with discussions around self- and community-care, and this black woman-centred cultural practice juxtaposed  the wood-lined walls, globes and portraits of white explorers that typify the building with the music and laughter of black women talking and working together.  As a response to the RGS’s stated desire to reflect on their history and their building, this was a filling of the space with black women’s language, perspectives and practices, a reimagining of what the space can and should mean.

This dramatic and large-scale installation was photographed by Damion Griffiths and Oliver Barrett.  It was created by artist Sonia E Barrett, with Map-lective members, Dr Pat Noxolo,  Dr Tia Monique Uzor, Obafeyikemi Luther, Evie Otoki, Lea Bematol, Bea Tizzy, with contributions by the staff of the RGS: Dr Catherine Souch, and Sarah Evans.

In addition, Gennaro Ambrosino’s beautiful new film features interviews and footage of the sculpture.  You can watch the film now.

CARICUK’s related provocation event was livestreamed from the Royal Geographical Society’s Ondaatje Theatre.  The recording is available from the CARICUK youtube channel.