Curating the Caribbean: unsettling the boundaries of art and artefact

Michael D. Carrasco, Lesley A. Wolff, Paul Niell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we consider the material and visual implications of coloniality–the darker side of modernity, and structure of management that underpins and supports modernity’s rhetoric of promises–within the circum-Caribbean through a reflection on curating the exhibition Decolonising Refinement: Contemporary Pursuits in the Art of Edouard Duval-Carrié. By juxtaposing the recent work of Haitian-born American painter and sculptor Edouard Duval-Carrié (1954b) and a selection of historical artefacts from the Southeastern US we bring to light the recursive patterns of colonialism and exploitation in which the Gulf region has been culturally, economically, and politically entangled. Our collaborative exhibition deconstructs the notion of refinement both in the aesthetic sense and also as processes by which a resource becomes a product. For Duval-Carrié, the Caribbean is not merely a case study for these broader global dynamics, but rather the crucible from which the modern, industrial age emerges. We thus approach this exhibition as an experiment in decolonising the museum–itself a tool of coloniality–by creating dynamic visual and material relationships in the gallery that deny the viewer the convenient binaries of past/present, art/artefact, and US/Caribbean, and thus forge new possibilities for a kind of decolonial museality that reflects upon its own medial limitations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-699
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2021


  • Caribbean
  • Curating
  • US Southeast
  • contemporary art
  • decoloniality
  • exhibitions
  • heritage


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