This article chronicles the development and critical underpinnings of an inter-insular exhibition and editorial project curated by two Canary Islander specialists, art critic and literary scholar Nilo Palenzuela and art historian and curator Orlando Britto. The project, named Horizontes Insulares/Insular horizons, focused on contemporary art and literary practices in a range of island and insular locations. Occurring in 2010–2011, it brought together visual artists and authors from Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Cape Verde, Madeira, Azores, La Réunion, French Guiana and the Canary Islands. The itinerant exhibition included a multi-lingual edition of twelve books featuring work by writers and artists, a substantial exhibition catalogue, and the multi-site exhibition itself which travelled from the Canary Islands to Madeira, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Martinique. Seeking to explore and explain the exhibition's guiding principles, the article delves deep into an Atlantic, inter-insular and inter-oceanic consciousness that is both historically aware and decidedly forward-looking.
This article argues that a new image of the West Indies as affordable tourist paradise was consolidated from colonial tropes in the 1950s to promote the introduction of mass-market tourism in the region. Tourism is now the region's leading industry and it reproduces the economic and social relations of colonial society so closely that it warrants the term neo-colonial. However, this neo-colonial image was shaped by competing interests, Britain's loss of empire and the United States' ascent to imperial superpower on the one hand, and on the other, the US struggle for Civil Rights and West Indian nationalism – and their interaction with culture – and their interaction with Caribbean, US and British culture. This article sheds light on the construction of this image by examining two texts that contributed to it greatly: Darryl Zanuck's film Island in the Sun (1957), and Alec Waugh's 1955 novel on which it was based.
This article analyses a set of photographic works on island and littoral locations by German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. Focusing initially on one of Tillmans' signature images, Untitled (La Gomera), 1997, the article draws attention to this piece's originating context in the island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands. The critical narrative expands to include other island and littoral photographs to sketch a series of ‘frames’, from notions of process, scene, borders and the elemental, to escape and mobilities. The text locates its readings in dialogue with Tillmans' most recent project, Neue Welt, as a way to think about contemporary ways of producing and altering island images that depart from longstanding island imaginaries of the tropical Atlantic and other, similar oceanic locations. The article concludes by arguing that an ‘aesthetics off the margin’ can be teased out of Tillmans' photographic shores and islandscapes.
Artist Mariko Mori's series Present from Beginning of the End grounds an island imaginary in visual iterations of global urban centres, belying notions of insularity and periphery. Globalization, this article argues, has disappeared the connotations of island imaginaries and spaces from the four global cities, each also islands, represented across Present. The series nuances the term ‘island’, exposing the disparities that exist between islands; not all islands are understood as equal in relationship to global economic and political power. Mori's photographs link the island and the alien as imbricated analytics, asserting the two as pivotal geopolitical markers of a global urban present. Mori's photo series remaps temporal and spatial narratives of globalization via the alien and the island, questioning the ways in which the processes of globalization attach to bodies, and the ways in which finance dictates the terms of global contact and the creation of networks.
This article investigates the centenary celebrations of the Angel Island immigration station (off the coast of California) in order to think through how this site configures the island in relation to issues of Chinese migration, time and tourism. Moving through four interrelated performance events – a dance-theatre piece, the tour of the station, theatrical re-enactments of detainee interviews and the exhibition of a junk – the author identifies and elaborates a concept of fugitive temporality and related insular phenomena that come into relief through the twining of performance and memory. These phenomena include the production of boredom and intimacy as well as the construction of an antipodal imaginary. These phenomena thus become different optics to think through insularity in relation to the social reproduction of Chineseness and Americanness.
Political traumas and ethnic antagonisms in Taiwan emphasize the need for a reconsideration of the intervulnerable relation between island imaginaries and mainland ideological violence. Premiered at Metropolitan Hall in Taipei City on 28 October 2011, Golden Bough Theatre's musical Pirates and Formosa presents images of pirates of different races and genders surviving on the island, theatricalizing an islandscape that challenges the official, Kuomintang-advanced, historical grand narrative that has relied upon Confucian gender norms and the exclusion of women as subjects of nation-building processes. Combining local queer debates and camp discussions with island theories, this project sees the performance as a queer, de-hegemonic, and postcolonial discourse, which fashions a queer island disidentification that undoes the truth-claims of nationalist identitarianism and queers the Chinese-centrist identity as the ‘descendants of dragon’ that the Kuomintang has promoted for the past sixty years.
This article explores Singapore's Gardens by the Bay as a sci-fi botany fantasy and a postcolonial super garden of the twenty-first century. The Gardens presents an island botany complex that internalizes imperial horticultural display for an electric tropicality powered by biodiversity, sustainable energy, and a global ambition for the postcolony. Its award-winning cooled conservatories and Supertree Grove are all emblems of this futuristic vision. Using the architectural and botanical performance of the Gardens as the basis for reading this complex, Lim considers its cool design and sensory logics as an aesthetic and vision of transnational performance in the twenty first century. This is a new iteration of island performance that also marks Singapore's allegorical transmogrification from tropical colony to global city to transnational island.
Third Text is published in print and online by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.