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The Kingdom of This World, Reimagined at Pensacola Museum of Art, Florida

24th Sept 2021 - 9th Jan 2022

The Kingdom of This World, Reimagined originally opened in 2019 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier’s renowned novel, The Kingdom of This World (1949). The book takes an imaginative dive into the volatile epoch of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), when an extraordinary uprising, led by enslaved and freed people of color, transformed the French colonial territory of Saint Domingue into the liberated nation of Haiti.

The eleven artists in this exhibition, including Dudley Alexis, José Bedia, Edouard Duval-Carrié, Scherezade García, Sergio García, José García Cordero, Simryn Gill, Leah Gordon, Roberto Juárez, and Maggie Steber, present work that responds to Carpentier’s stylized retelling of Haiti’s profound history through the literary genre known as lo real maravilloso [the Marvelous Real]. In the book’s prologue, Carpentier famously asks, “For what is the history of the Americas, if not a chronicle of the marvelous in the real?” For Carpentier, the collective heritage of this hemisphere is marvelous, though not entirely optimistic. The marvelous recalls the traumas imposed on the people of Haiti and across the hemisphere, as well as the awe-inspiring efforts required to persist amid and overcome such injustices, inequities, and silences.

In this exhibition, Carpentier’s narrative serves as a catalyst for this group of artists to explore the ways in which Haiti’s marvelous and challenging past asserts itself in the present. By unsettling the relationship between history and mythology, these artists, along with Carpentier himself, profoundly shift our vision of the Caribbean from tropical oasis to nexus of global revolution.