Joscelyn Gardner: Bleeding & Breeding

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n Bleeding & Breeding, Joscelyn Gardner exhibits a body of work completed between 2009 and 2011 which centers on Creole women’s secret use of exotic tropical plants as natural abortifacients on 18th century Caribbean plantations. Creole Portraits III, a suite of thirteen lithographic portraits ‘named’ for otherwise anonymous slave women and for the botanical specimens believed to have been used by them to induce abortion, reveals intricately braided Afro-centric hairstyles viewed from behind entwined within the horrific iron slave collars which were used to punish female slaves accused of this heinous act.

In the video installation, “behind closed doors…”, the voices of women from the period are overheard giving their painful testimonies of sexual exploitation on colonial Caribbean plantations. Through probing colonial material culture found in Caribbean archives as well as, more recently, historical fiction, Gardner continues to question the depravity of the plantation system from a postcolonial feminist perspective. She leaves the viewer to ponder the wider implications of a colonial discourse which supported the violent subordination of enslaved peoples as a ‘natural’ right of white (male) privilege.

Born in Barbados, and recognized internationally as a leading Caribbean artist, Gardner moved to Canada in 2000. Her work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions in Spain, the USA, Canada, and the Caribbean. She is a recent recipient of the Biennial Grand Prize at the 7th International Contemporary Printmaking Biennial in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec (2011), and has exhibited in international printmaking biennials across Europe and Latin America since 1994, as well as in the 22nd and 23rd Sao Paulo Biennials. Recent group exhibitions have included Utropicos at the XXXI Biennial de Pontevedra in Spain; Global Caribbean which originated at Art Basel in Miami, and travelled to museums in France and Puerto Rico; Infinite Island at the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Canadian Impressions in Washington, DC; and Stains on my Chintz at the Harrington Art Center in Kolkata, India. Gardner currently teaches in the School of Contemporary Media at Fanshawe College, London, Ontario, and works as an artist between Canada and the Caribbean. She has an MFA from the University of Western Ontario and BFA (Printmaking) & BA (Film) from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.

Collections in which Gardner’s work can be found include the Museum of Contemporary Art in Puerto Rico, the Barbados National Gallery, US Embassies Collection, Museo TEOR/éTica in Costa Rica, Fondacion Clemente in Dominican Republic, and several corporate and private collections.

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