Family Connection is an artist collective formed through kinship and beyond, based in both Curaçao and the Netherlands. Established in 2005 by Glenda Martinus and Gala Martinus, the current formation of the collective includes: Jörgen Gario, Quinsy Gario, Caldron Lewis, Whitney Lewis, Gala Martinus, Glenda Martinus & Rudsel Martinus. The collective took part in 2019 in the exhibition Positions #5 at the Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), where they reflected on the ways the 1969 uprising in Curaçao is remembered.
Their participation in the Special Project 2020/21 is an extended invitation from artist, activist and politician Quinsy Gario, who was initially invited to take part in the programme.
Den tur circumstancia nos lo sigi move (Under all circumstances we will continue to move) (2021)
Caldron Lewis, Den tur circumstancia nos lo sigi move (Under all circumstances we will continue to move) (2021), acrylic on canvas (3), 100 x 80 cm
Jörgen Gario, Papia Ku Baila (Speak and Dance) (2021), sound piece
Rudsel Martinus, Masked Joy, Carriers of Celebration, The Encounter of Cultures (2021), acrylic on canvas, 170 x 120 cm
Regalda L. Martinus Lewis, Den tur circumstancia nos lo sigi move (Under all circumstances we will continue to move) (2021), composed of:
- Gala Dolls: Flamboyan, Magdalena, Trinitaria, Katuna di Seda, Kayena and Tuturutu, dolls made from newspaper, acrylic paint, varnish, mounted on ‘Palu di indju’ wood & tree trunk
- Gala Shoes: Sorsaka, Granatapei, Mispel, Shimaruku, Kenepa and Tamerijn, recycled leather shoes decorated with beads, paint, beaded flowers and beaded butterflies, mounted on ‘Palu di indju’ wood; high top sneakers decorated with glitter glue
Whitney Lewis, Den tur circumstancia nos lo sigi move (Under all circumstances we will continue to move) (2021), 15 glass beaded bracelets and 6 pairs of crocodile earrings; 3 high top & 1 low top sneakers adorned with glass beads, paint, beaded flower figurines. The sneakers are named: Fiesta, Arko iris, Paraiso di flor and Lokura di Barbulete.
Den tur circumstancia nos lo sigi move (Under all circumstances we will continue to move) is a group of works by artist collective Family Connection. The vibrant, mixed-media artworks enact Carnival and offer the possibility to experience and examine its legacy as a signature of Afro-Curaçao identity and collectivity in the Netherlands.
The body of work takes a 1983 video report of the Antilliaanse Carnival in Utrecht, made by then art student Rudsel Martinus, as point of departure. Seated, Martinus speaks directly into the camera, stressing the importance of keeping the Caribbean communal memory of Carnival alive. He speaks in Papiamentu – the Spanish and Portuguese-based creole language spoken in the Dutch Caribbean – referencing a deep connection to traditions of marronage (the process of extricating oneself from slavery) and refusal.
Martinus shared this material with his nephew Quinsy Gario in 2019. After studying the video report and its historical position, as well as the broader development of Carnival in the Caribbean, Family Connection developed a collection of artworks, a collective response to Martinus’ material, that speak of generational solidarity and revolutionary actions. The collective repoliticizes playing mas (short for “masquerade” and its associated performance) and the event’s function in Utrecht during the severe economic recession in the Netherlands of the early 1980s, in the same city where imperial European powers had negotiated colonial occupation and slavery 270 years earlier. In the unearthing of stories that have long been dormant, the members look at the Black Caribbean craftsmanship involved in producing Carnival costumes, the choreography of the masses in public space, the genealogies of the soundscapes that inspire movement, and the historical poetics that came to the fore while organising the Carnival in Utrecht.
Den tur circumstancia nos lo sigi move (Under all circumstances we will continue to move) was exhibited at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons (6 Nov. 2021 – 20 Jan. 2022) as part of the Special Project 2020/21. Through the exhibition, Family Connection wanted to contribute to local municipal memory and invite the city to continue to remember that which is not found in the city archives.
A verbal description tour of the works and exhibition at Casco is available here.