In his essay, Curaçao artist Tirzo Martha signals the problems and needs of Curaçao society to which he has given a voice through his art, performances and projects. For Martha, growing up on the island of Curaçao between the 1960s and 1980s was a somewhat surreal experience. The island’s unstable social and political developments had a direct impact on a sense of community, with events such as the revolt of 30 May 1969 demonstrating how extreme and out-of-hand the situation had become. The economic decay that was tormenting the island gave rise to corruption and abuses of power in Curaçao’s political, governmental and social structures. In the more disadvantaged neighbourhoods, people were cheating and hustling just to survive – a situation that step-by-step became the norm at all layers of society. Circumstances became so bad as to evoke the stories of Anansi, set within a contemporary colonial society. In response, a voice was needed that could encapsulate and communicate the needs of Curaçao society. It would speak to and from the visual arts, through actions, interventions and performances in the community, working to remove the burden of dysfunction and decay. The voice took many other forms before finally issuing from the fictive persona of Captain Caribbean.
This text is published as a counterpart to the contribution to Sustainable Art Communities from the art historian Kitty Zijlmans.
Keywords: contemporary art, Tirzo Martha, Captain Caribbean, Instituto Buena Bista (IBB), Afro Healing
Full text: OAJ_issue5_martha_final_v2 (PDF 1.8 MB)
Tirzo Martha is a visual artist and co-founder of the Instituto Buena Bista, Curacao Center for Contemporary Art. As a socially and politically engaged artist, he seeks to turn his artworks into tangible actions that may contribute to the development and growth of Curaçao and the wider Caribbean.