My Bajan Letters
It all began long ago with an email from a scammer from Barbados. I replied and an enthusiastic correspondence unfolded. Before our dialogue came to an end, Fergal the scammer had, on my request, traveled across the island to document Bajan pop star Rihanna’s home.
Time passes and the scammer begins writing me again a year later. One thing leeds to another and I find myself on an isolated beach on the other side of the planet—continuously writing his now dead email account. Pregnant, slightly confused but intensively alert, I am gliding around in Riri’s world. Through my camera I discover the ruin of Paradise Beach Club. This throws me back into a J. G. Ballard book about an imaginary vacation resort for artists and wealthy eccentrics. Intensely I google Riri paddling these very waters. I paddle myself on a cheap foam surfboard. The Barbados days are strikingly saturated, yet profoundly slow. And so warm. I keep googling, remembering, emailing, filming it all. Detached from the everyday hassle, I think differently (dream-like) and I keep writing. Eventually, my mind gets the googled paddle photos mixed up with Peter Doig’s melting canoe paintings.. This, amongst other Island experiences, builds the core of my recent workflow.
Super skilled filmmaker Simon Möller is post producing the film. Similar to what I am trying to do with paint in my studio, we have bathed the clips in aesthetics inspired by travel magazines. Here the water is cyan-colored, the sky is blue and all plants are greeeen (not the yellow-brown of reality). We are going for a composed ambience—reminiscent too of Sci-fi and early Net Art. Tina Sauerländer has written the afterword for the publication that consists of two books with the emails and one book with film stills. About the film she writes: “A huge cruise ship landing on a small picturesque island resembles a collage ignoring any scale or proportion. It looks unreal and the observer can hardly believe his own eyes. This feeling of disbelief haunts the reader of “My Bajan Letters” and leads to his wish to verify the information given. He googles. Nowadays anything you can’t find there does not exist. There is no need to visit any place physically, because when you can google it, it is there—and you could just photoshop yourself into the image. The artist sitting on Rihanna’s beach almost looks too good to be true. Was she really there? Was Fergal ever there? At the end of the film, Peter Doig’s Red Canoe melts into a googled image of Rihanna on a surfboard at a beach in Barbados… at least Rihanna was really there”
4 coloured photogravure, edition of 20 pieces
54 x 39 cm
The Pearl Outfit and The Barbados Shirt, 2013
Oil on several canvases weaved together
80 x 70 cm
See also the similar project from 2011 entitled My African Letters