Chaos Monde 
New Museum

Collaboration with Carolyn Lazard 

Brooklyn Rail

“Chaos-monde is comprised of five totems arranged as an astrological map beneath the floor of the exhibition. The  map traces cosmological positions on two seminal dates in Caribbean history: January 1, 1803, the day independence was declared in  Haiti; and October 27, 1979, the day St. Vincent, of the Windward Islands, gained independence. The largest totem, representing the sun, is partially visible through a Plexiglass trap door, encircled by smaller totems that represent Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, and Mars. Each consists of a wooden base supporting an assemblage that combines personal items, material native to the Caribbean, and reels of 16mm film, a reference to the artists’ own backgrounds in filmmaking, a medium that can bear witness to transformations over time. In this installation, Lazard and Liverpool have inverted ground and sky, and place a celestial landscape beneath our feet. The positions of the stars the evening of the Haitian Revolution are legendary, and were cited by  the vodou practitioners who led the rebellion, which marked the first successful national slave rebellion in history. In Caribbean Discourse, Glissant writes that for Caribbeans, “the relationship with the land, one that is even more threatened because the community is alienated from that land, becomes so fundamental in this discourse that landscape in the work stops being merely decorative or supportive and emerges as a full character. Describing the landscape is not enough. The individual, the community, the land are inextricable in the process of creating history. Landscape is a character in this process. Its deepest meanings need to be understood.”

The work’s title comes from Glissant, who writes “I call chaos-monde the current shock of so many cultures that flare up, repel themselves, disappear, still subsist, fall asleep, or transform, slowly or at breakneck speed: these bursts...we cannot predict.” Glissant advocated for the right to opacity, a protective barrier to resist against the reductiveness of humanism, which he argued was deeply tied to the colonial enterprise. In this installation, Lazard and Liverpool investigate syncretism, the assimilation of religious practices often described as a natural merging of disparate ideas and religious practices, a definition which obscures the great violence of the christianization of the colonies. In reality, syncretism was a method of survival, and a strategic way of hiding of one vibrant practice within the guise of another. By burying sacred objects and pieces of recording technology beneath the gallery floor, Chaos-monde uses concealment as a protective measure and an expansive gesture against the transparent performance of Caribbean identity. “ - New Museum