Un|Fixed Homeland, Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, 2016 Catalog: Un|Fixed Homeland - Page 50

Roshini Kempadoo b. United Kingdom 1959 Born to Guyanese parents, photographer and media artist Roshini Kempadoo spent much of her youth shuffling between England, where she was born and is currently based, and throughout the Caribbean, including Guyana where she was a student in the 1970s. The artist’s multiple acts of migration have shaped much of her repertoire, which has included a body of work aimed at examining the role of the photographic image in the Caribbean diaspora and Britain. Face Up, 2015, presents a series of characters whose stories are told through screen animation vignettes, and weaved with text, images, and sound, referred to by Kempadoo as “snippets, sound bites, and fragments of life stories.” The work examines how our culture’s reliance on phones, tablets and other mobile devices “have radically affected how…[we] connect with others and…comprehend world events…”To frame an examination of the dependency on technology apparatuses to maintain connection across the diaspora, Kemapdoo creates the character “Deirdre” as one of the protagonists. She is a young Guyanese woman living in London who still has close ties to her extended family in Guyana. In the video, the viewer is made aware of distressing news about a family member’s health in Guyana while simultaneously seeing Deirdre’s engagement with multiple digital screens. From these engagements, the viewer witnesses the ways in which Deirdre stages and creates a self-image, curating and sharing her experiences with the world. Deirdre checks her hair using the screen and switches her earplugs from the phone to the laptop. She is in her regular coffee bar near Regent Street around the corner from work, waiting for a Skype call. It is what she suspected…her cousin in Georgetown has gotten worse and needs medical treatment. Ordering another flat white, she downloads and forwards the visa forms, looks up airline tickets and checks her bank balance. The credit card balance has maxed, but she has managed to reserve flights from Cheddi Jagan International to Gatwick. Via her selfies, Deirdre’s gestures of “self-validation and visual confirmation” reveal a kind of myth-making. The diasporic Londoner is always “negotiating journeys across and through spaces and media,” states Kempadoo, “[she] knows about at least two places called ‘home’ and keeps track of and maintains tenuous and multiple ‘identities’ as a precarious life experience— hers and others.” 50 Roshini Kempadoo Face Up, 2015 Video 11:35 mins Courtesy of the artist 51