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Provoking a Caribbean

Artwork by Annalee Davis

August 26, 2002 – September 27, 2002

AMA | OAS Gallery
OAS Main Building
17th Street, NW (Corner of Constitution Ave.)
Washington, DC 20006

Annalee Davis uses her work to examine cultural and historical issues of the Caribbean, specifically her homeland of Barbados. She reflects on the region’s 500 year old history of forced and voluntary migrations, invasions, settlements, and emigrations, and more specifically, the resulting ambiguity of what it means to be Caribbean. Through these works, Davis presents us with the idea of “a” Caribbean as opposed to “the” Caribbean. Rather than suggest a romantic representation of “oneness,” Davis presents a complex region, in which it is a challenge to locate oneself within its diversity.

A case in point is “Barbados in a Nutshell.” This piece is a satirical cross-section of a small island state rapidly shifting from an economy based on agriculture and tourism. The piece presents a souvenir display of ways in which Barbados has been mapped from the 17th century until now. In the past, Barbadians have been mapped by outsiders, for outsiders. Davis insists that, in the present day, they continue to map themselves for others and Davis’ work suggests that they map themselves, for themselves.

Perhaps more personal in its cultural theme is the piece “Evocations of a Caribbean.” In this historical series of self-portraits, Davis crosses time to become a Caribbean woman infused with carious ethnicities, along with alter-egos represented by corresponding Goddesses. In response to the long tradition of mapping the Caribbean, often in reference to the female body, she takes back this cartography and uses her body to map a female Caribbean, and to claim a collective history.


Annalee Davis was born in Barbados in 1963. She completed her BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA at Rutgers. After university she returned to the Caribbean where she now lives and works.

She has held solo exhibitions in several Caribbean countries and exhibited regionally and internationally at the Habana & Sao Paulo Biennials, as well as in group exhibitions in countries such as Argentina, The Dominican Republic, Germany, Spain, and South Africa.