Artist in Residence: Iman Person
IMAN PERSON is a first-generation Jamaican-American artist and cultural anthropologist whose research explores the intersections of Black and Indigenous technologies, and their connections to ritual, the land, language, and cosmic time. Her work goes beyond traditional Western views of technology to offer a somatic examination of cultural diasporas within the Americas and the Caribbean. In her practice, she sees the body as deeply connected to the elements, with her recent works focusing on air and ether as points of convergence for exploring collective histories, migration, and diasporic memory. Using Africana cosmologies and personal experience, Iman channels speculative visions of Black futurity through intuitive writing, video, real-time data, experimental sound, sensory ethnography, and object-making to shape unexplored ideas concerning living archives and sovereignty while navigating the delicate terrain occurring at the edges of multiple worlds.
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An emerging area of focus for me is does sound have the capacity to embody space fully in place of the moving image. Can audiences journey and comprehend a location solely through sonic spaces and if so, where does this sound take them? Can a new destination be formed that exists outside of the present or the past by altering timescapes through sound? The core of this research engages with Kamau Bratherwaite's concept of alter/native language, which defines types of narratives that have the power to transform psychology and ways of knowing within communities of the African diaspora, which Bratherwaite believes are inherited from the teachings of colonization and the ideologies of the “mother country.”
Forming alter/native languages is a discursive method that can initiate the process of re-orientation and nativizing something that has no native land to construct a more authentic voice of marginalized peoples. Brathwaite believes these languages are essential to understanding the Caribbean experience, as they reflect the region's diverse and complex cultural heritage, and provide a window into the lived experiences of its people. Not only is this creolization a melding of English or French dialects with the African or the Amerindian, but this language is also infused with the landscape itself. The weather, the quality of air, erosion, its flora, and humidity...these all alter the words created and expressed throughout the Caribbean and diasporic communities.
The archives that I am currently incorporating into the work are audio are collections from prominent Caribbean linguists, narrations and reflections of the mass West Indian migration into England during 1945- 1960, lyrical prose (both self-written and found), ethnobotany and its relationship to colonial narratives in Jamaica, as well as musical excerpts of Jamaica’s sonic journey from Kuminia to present day. This project delves into sound at the juncture of Blackness and technology through codified languages that have emerged through Jamaican Patois, West Indian Creole, and other tribal communities.