Disappearing people

Is that a buoy? 

This work was first published in Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism under a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Is that a buoy? explores the ambiguity of the body in the sea, especially when observed from a distance, and the assumptions one makes about gender and sexuality based on physical appearances. We have been conditioned to make certain distinctions between male and female. Hair is one of the first attributes that we use when making these distinctions. I am stereotyped as being masculine constantly because of the absence of my hair.

Circa no future
Indian Bay, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines. 2014-ongoing.
Exploring the vulnerable masculine under water

Believing there to be a link between an under-explored aspect of Caribbean adolescent masculinity and the freedom of bodies in the ocean, I have decided to creatively document boys' interaction with the sea. These pieces capture manhood, snippets of vulnerability and moments of abstraction, that often go unrecognized in the day-to-day. The ocean itself takes on a personality - that of the embracing mother providing a safe space for being - which is both archetypal and poignant. I am as much a subject as the boys for whom I provide solace. The boys climb a large rock, proving their manhood through endurance, fearlessly jump, and become submerged in a moment of innocent unawareness. They emerge having proven themselves. The relationship between myself and the subject is also explored within this paradigm. The subjects are aware of me while posturing, but lose this cognizance when they sink into the water. It is this moment that tells the true story.


is a series of diptychs that explores the relationship between my identity and the marine ecosystem.

During my daily swim, I became preoccupied with the changes I saw happening before me with the deterioration of coral reefs that were once alive. At the same time I was finding solace through the amorphous quality and weightlessness of my body in the water. I decided to take my camera into the water to document the interplay between the seascape and my body.

In the sea, as a woman who identifies as other, my body becomes displaced from my everyday experiences. Gender, race, and class are dissolved because there are no social and political constructs to restrain and dictate my identity. These constructs have no place or value in that environment. This idea creates the foundation for these portraits.

Most people's experience with the sea occurs at eye level with the horizon and they are oblivious to what is happening below the surface. I am interested in the notion that "just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there". Underwater, I am alien and unable to survive without gear. I explore this limitation by holding my breath and submerging for short periods of time to capture each image. The marine organisms I document have been shot in the same location over a span of two years in tandem with my own body. My intention was to investigate the changes occurring both within and without myself, as well as how our own actions affect our immediate environment over time.

I created these transfigured portraits by using collage techniques to bring together self-portraiture and my documentation of marine organisms. Each portrait brings together two separate entities: the body and various marine animals. By juxtaposing these images with a space in between them, each portrait is on the cusp of becoming a single image.

This space represents a transient moment where I am regaining buoyancy and separating from the underwater environment to resurface. My intention with these photographs is to create a lasting breath that defies human limitation. The transformation exists within the space in between photographs. It is in this moment that the viewer makes the decision if both worlds are able to separate or merge.

Pulling the net
Roseau Valley, St Lucia. 2011.

There is a large pipe that runs from the ocean, along the valley to a nearby rum distillery. Large ships moor close to shore to pump molasses to the distillery. The people living in the village come together, both young and old, to pull in a large fishing net which they cast earlier. It's moving to watch two generations living in the now of the moment. I felt privileged to be allowed as an onlooker.