- É Kurasoleña NoboExpressions of the Curaçaoan Woman in the Paintings of Jean Girigori, Minerva Lauffer, and Viviana Cornet
The southern Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao is a spatially compact country with multiple layers of sociocultural and political dimensions that every so often undergo political transitions in the nation-building process of self-reliance. The political struggles of the Curaçaoan Dr. Moises Frumencio DaCosta Gomez1 in the 1930s and 1940s, helped to establish the groundwork for a revamped Antillean status in the Dutch kingdom. Curaçao, together with five other Dutch colonial islands, gained autonomy as a federation country within the Dutch kingdom in 1954. However, the vague and imbalanced application of the country’s autonomy within the kingdom, the continued colonial and racial hierarchies still evident after the modernization period and through the 1960s, and the persistent discussions between the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles,2 and between the islands of the Netherlands Antilles fueled, in part, Curaçao’s continuous movement toward self-reliance. The Netherlands Antilles continued on its inevitable path to collapse. Aruba abandoned the Netherlands Antilles in 1986; and the remaining islands of the Netherlands Antilles continued a disintegration process that concluded in 2010.3 It was in this year that each remaining island of the Netherlands Antilles followed through with politically and legally upheld decisions for a fresh start.
In the case of Curaçao, we see a shift in the island’s status from a federation state in the Netherlands Antilles to an autonomous country within the Dutch kingdom.4 Population movements, technological and economic developments that impact the sociocultural construct in ways that continue to support cultural plurality, characterize the autonomous country. A linguistic uniqueness and a multiracial people all enmeshed in nonlinear, asymmetrical, hybrid, and [End Page 99] fragmented cultural relations typify Curaçao’s plurality.5 The latest juridical and political position of Curaçao within the Dutch kingdom, which allows the island to claim a political and juridical position as a new country, affords the citizens the possibility to design a fresh cultural imaginary for Curaçao. In essence, as different political and juridical lines between the Dutch Caribbean islands and the Netherlands are implemented, artistic and creative lines are also being extended, reconfigured, and refurbished.
The work of Curaçaoan artists can be revisited to reinforce cultural significations that existed prior to October 10, 2010. At the same time, their work is ripe to create memories and significations post–October 10, 2010. Artistic significations to conditions, objects, and subjects that prior to October 10, 2010 have been appropriated as relics of Curaçaoan culture in the Netherlands Antilles can now enter alternate extensions to earlier historicity, even if unintended. Ultimately, the works produced by Curaçaoan artists, primarily after October 10, 2010, can be imagined in innovative hybrid cultural frameworks. It follows, then, that an examination of the art scene in Curaçao is timely, particularly since there have been reports of steady and positive strides in the island’s artistic landscape.6 In fact, the creative activities, exhibitions, and developments in the area of visual arts, sculpture, theatre, and painting are flourishing behind the scenes.7 Hence, the artistic world in Curaçao is a fertile ground for the examination of the location of women in Curaçaoan society post–October 10, 2010.
Artistic responses about the location of women after the recent shift in the country’s status were evident in exhibitions such as Antepasado di Futuro (Ancestors of the Future), held at the Curaçao Museum from October 10, 2010 through January 10, 2011. Many of the artists provided a clear narrative in response to the location of Curaçaoan women and the Curaçaoan nation in general.8 There was an exhaustive use of Curaçaoan artifacts, folkloric assemblages, historical landscapes, and memories in the creative works of many of the artists. Hence, these artists are using historical and urban elements of the Curaçaoan cityscapes in their attempt at configuring Curaçao’s people and its future. The ways in which the city elements are signified in the mind of Curaçaoan...