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  • Foto del escritorSamuel Sarmiento

¨Chants from Overseas (Poetics and Contemporary Visions through Ceramic in the Dutch Caribbean)¨ #2

Samuel Sarmiento painter
Samuel Sarmiento. Infinite Processions. Glaze on stoneware. 2024.

A multitude walks in circles, but the circle is so vast that in some cases, one complete lap can equate to years or an entire lifetime. Different generations coincide within this circle; some work, eat, die, fight, and make love while following the trajectory of the circle. Some elders mention that the circle is like a snake devouring its own tail, and that it never ends. Others believe they have already lived through the circle's rotation and doubt whether they have seen everything in a past dream. The routine of the circle can be considered Kafkaesque, but sometimes it's easier to keep walking without thinking that tomorrow is just another slope in the circle's paths. Scholars comment that the circle often moves like a shoal of fish, or a flock of birds in the sky, but the element that keeps the multitude together, moving, and gives meaning to the locomotion, are often systems of beliefs, common stories, and chains of knowledge.

Samuel Sarmiento Art

In the circle described in this ceramic, people walk around hundreds of Caribbean stories, shining like stars in the night. In the midst of the procession, we can see two stories depicted through two small illustrations. On the left, we see an elderly man dressed in white, it is Obatala building the heads of human beings, with their ideas, fears, compulsions, and desires. On the right, we see a woman giving birth, and above her is Ogun cutting the umbilical cord with a machete, separating the union between heaven and earth, so that a new human being can live on earth. Meanwhile, we all continue walking in circles.

Samuel Sarmiento
Samuel Sarmiento. Drifting Slaves. Glaze on stoneware. 2024.

Hundreds of years ago, as the kingdoms of Europe sought to expand their trade routes and competed to accumulate precious metals such as gold and silver, more and more workers were needed to be sent to the “New World”. In contradiction to Judeo-Christian values, millions of human beings were enslaved in Africa and Asia, only to be later shipped on boats to America to perform all sorts of tasks against their will.

It’s interesting how humans have the capacity to dehumanize others; when an individual is considered subhuman, they lose their faculties as a person and are denied the right to choice or autonomy.

Legend has it that halfway across the ocean, a ship belonging to the Dutch East India Company lost its course and remained lost for months. The sailors in charge of the vessel, seeing the tragic outcome, decided to cast themselves into the sea without any hope. Meanwhile, in the hold of the ship, hundreds of slaves were locked in darkness, amid chains and hunger. So many were the tears, human waste, and blood they shed that this liquid gradually seeped through the hull of the ship, reaching the ocean floor. Yemaya, who lived among corals on the seabed, upon seeing these waters born of suffering, understood the situation of these humans. So, she sent tides and waves that swiftly carried the ship to an island where the people could be free. Afro-Caribbean Story.

This work was created during a period of creation at EKWC , thanks to the support of Mondriaan Fund.

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