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From “poisoned gold” to “a dazzling gold”: the transformation of Sargassum from the artists’ eyes

Abstract : The massive presence of sargassum since 2011, "represents not only an environmental and economic disaster but a real threat to human health" (Resiere 2018), and gives rise to various treatments, physical and symbolic, the most obvious of which are political and sanitary. More unexpectedly, forms of artistic engagement in the public space have emerged in parallel with collective and individual mobilizations contributing to the translation of the nuisance as well as hopes of valorization. Photographers, performers, videoartists, comedians, have established a plural and paradoxical relationship with these sargassum, polysemic and hybrid objects. Thus the sargassum is described as "inspiring" by a Martinicanslammer, and allows"a writing track". All art forms are represented and different popular cultural places and moments, such as the Carnival period, become conducive to the display of these non-neutral appropriations in Caribbean culture. The artist raises the question of "living with" and allows us to transform our view of the territory invaded by these brown algae. It makes it possible to envisage, at least in the collective imagination, a metamorphosis of the sargassum from "poisoned gold" into "dazzling gold" as wrote the artist Louisa Marajo on a poem. This communication offers to question artistic approaches and artifacts both as political acts and aesthetic gestures. The premise is to insert them as part of the mechanism for telling the story of the ecological phenomenon. The importance of art in approaching the problem can not be overlooked: we are witnessing the emergence of these forms of interpellation in the public space and the integration of artists into the process of reflection on the representation of nature and its risks. In this context for example, Vincentian artist Nadia Huggins was invited to the Understanding Risk conference (May 2019) at the University of the West Indies.
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Florence Ménez. From “poisoned gold” to “a dazzling gold”: the transformation of Sargassum from the artists’ eyes. Caribbean Science and Innovation Meeting 2019, Oct 2019, Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe), France. ⟨hal-02429742⟩

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