Un|Fixed Homeland, Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, 2016 Catalog: Un|Fixed Homeland - Page 34

Khadija Benn b. Canada 1986 The digital photographic series Wanderer, 2012–2016 is an homage to the “discovery and re-discovery of place…and the underlying histories that have created these complex spaces,” states Khadija Benn. That this body of work relies on Guyana’s landscapes is a testament to Benn’s intimate relationship to home and land. The artist has witnessed how we appreciate land in its natural state and work to preserve it, as well as how we mine it for its precious core and irrevocably transform it. Benn spent her childhood in the mining town of Linden, in the northeastern region of Guyana, where bauxite, a main source of aluminum, has been the town’s staple export since the early 1900s. Later in her life, the artist’s formal training as a geographer and cartographer would lead her on map-making and heritage preservation assignments across the country. In Amalivaca, 2012, Kanuku, 2012, Chrysalis, 2013, Benn takes us to the Rupununi grasslands, the Kanuku Mountains, and the coral ferns in an abandoned Linden mine, respectively. At first glance, Benn’s polished painterly images, lush with color, light and a heavy-handed brush of glamour and romanticism, might appear as a replica of the pervasive ‘picturing paradise’ aesthetic we often see associated with the Caribbean and South American region. However, it is this very narrative that Benn seeks to exploit by inserting the female body