For Alberta and Victor, a Collection of Conjurings and Opacities
La Vaughn Belle
Guest curated by Daniela Agostinho
ARIEL Feminisms, Women’s Building, Copenhagen
For Alberta and Victor, a collection of conjurings and opacities, is an exhibition by St. Croix-based artist La Vaughn Belle, guest curated by Daniela Agostinho.
The exhibition presents a new body of work, comprising the video essay In the Place of Shadows (2021) and a large-scale collage from a broader series entitled “How to Imagine the Tropicalia as Monumental” (2021). The exhibition engages with the narrative of Alberta Viola Roberts and Victor Cornelius, who were taken as children from the Danish West Indies to be displayed in the 1905 colonial exhibition at Tivoli Gardens, organized by Emma Gad, co-founder of the Women’s Building, where the exhibition is held.
Nov 19, 2021–Jan 16, 2022
With this intervention in ARIEL’s space, Belle explores how unremembered histories can be inscribed in bodies, paper, landscapes, seascapes, and the built environment. Working with the gaps in knowledge about the lives of the two children before they were taken to Denmark, the video work “In the place of shadows” (2021) employs critical fabulation to wonder about Alberta and Victor’s childhood memories on the Danish West Indies. Shot in St. Croix, the work explores traces of history lodged in the landscape to surface the continual haunting of past presences on the island. Turning away from the violence of archival records, the video is conceived as an offering to Alberta and Victor, an attempt to create a space of care and regard for the memories of their early life.
Covering part of the exhibition space, Belle’s collage work explores the gesture of assembling and reconfiguring material fragments of history to imagine new conceptions of time, space and self. Originating in a set of paper previously damaged by a storm, the piece explores and resignifies the memory of devastation lodged in the material to “transgress temporal limitations, cross infinite distances, and invent multiple horizons”. In layering multiple elements pulled from the artist’s vocabulary, the piece speaks to how the colonial past and present are not separate but juxtaposed, entangled and fluid.
Together, this new body of work extends Belle’s counter-archival practice to explore how to summon a different kind of knowledge from fragments and traces of history. The exhibition offers a room for spatial and temporal collapse— what the artist terms a space of “pastpresentfuture”—, where different spaces and times touch, muddle and speak to one another, surfacing unremembered histories and their unresolved unfolding.
The exhibition is realised with the generous support of the Danish Arts Foundation and the Copenhagen Council for Visual Arts.
ARI. READINGS 12#
FOR ALBERTA AND VICTOR, A COLLECTION OF CONJURINGS AND OPACITIES
For this event, the exhibiting visual artist, La Vaughn Belle, in conversation with guest curator Daniela Agostinho, will introduce the exhibition project by engaging a set of texts that inform and situate the artist’s practice:
Dionne Brand, A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging
Kei Miller, Things I Have Withheld
Michel Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History
ARI. Readings is a series of events, oriented towards literature as communication and a vital part of artists’ research. The literature is selected by artists and guest curators from ARIEL’s exhibition program, so to assemble a parallel publicly accessible archive; ARIEL ARCHIVE.