How the people feel: Visual art and socio-political critique in Bermuda, 1959-2009



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“No one is painting how the people feel, how they’re reacting to things.”"Race doesn't appear in the paintings, sex doesn't appear in the paintings, gender issues don't appear, and above all else what doesn't appear is money. There is no critique of anything." An artist and an art critic (Robert Barritt and Gregory Volk) made the preceding statements regarding the visual art of Bermuda. Is their perspective correct? Can overt social commentary be found in the visual art of Bermuda? In this dissertation I will tease out through a broad range of social evidence the implicit meanings and intentions in selected works of art and will show that Bermuda’s visual art does indeed present a critique and a perspective of its social conditions. In fact, the limited instances of these works are also a part of that commentary. Amazingly, neither the social realities nor the accompanying discourse as revealed in the visual art has changed significantly over the past half-century. The visual art commentary points to the fact that postcolonial Bermuda is experiencing a struggle entrenched in its racial relations. Public discourse ranging from the changing economy to the sustainable development of the country’s limited physical resources predictably returns to racial relations. More specifically Bermuda’s visual art speaks to identity and marginalization, contributing to the wider discourse of visibility/invisibility that extends even beyond the island’s racial and cultural relationships to the consideration of Bermuda as a whole as it makes determinations in regards to full decolonization, relationships with Atlantic World neighbors and its positioning in an age of globalization.



Bermuda, Visual art, Atlantic, Postcolonial