My work examines the historical, physical, and metaphysical nature of memory and migration in the African Diaspora. I explore the relationship between my experience emigrating from the Caribbean nation of Nevis and the forced dislocation of African peoples from the continent throughout the process of enslavement. Using liquid gelatin silver emulsion to layer and combine elements such as maps, African pictographs and ideographs, and personal and historical documents with photographic images, I hope to convey the political and psychological link between these two seemingly disparate experiences.
The photographic process is crucial to the work because of its ability to illustrate the element of time and its relationship to history. The pictographic and ideographic symbols in the work are spirit writings. They are also indexes for memory, signifiers of personal, historical, and even mythological events. They function as a bridge between two seemingly disparate experiences, the historical and the contemporary. Blending past with present, I use iconographic elements as metaphorical residues of experiences.
Mourning Memory depicts my older sisters in their school uniforms emerging from a mound that consists of a cosmogram and a fragment of an alphabet from the Central Camaroon kingdom of Bamun. The cosmogram is one of many brought to the New World by Africans and retained by their descendants. This particular one was used in ceremonies of mourning to evoke the supernatural. The mound form references the central volcanic mountain that sits in the center of the island of Nevis. It’s also an index for the mound of earth used when growing crops on farms throughout the Caribbean. Within this context, both the text and the cosmogram imply the accretion of knowledge and history and it’s regenerative possibilities.
Terry Boddie, born in the Eastern Caribbean island of Nevis, currently lives in NYC. He received his BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts and his MFA from Hunter College, both in NYC. His work has been shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Smack Mellon Studios in Brooklyn, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Boddie’s work has been reviewed in the New York Times, NY Arts, and NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art. He was the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and has been an artist in residence with the Longwood Arts Project and an Artist in the Marketplace with the Bronx Museum of the Arts. He will be an A-I-R here at the Center this fall.