This work is a historical (ongoing) personal genealogical study rooted in multiculturalism. Its development began on a Czech-German/W. African family reunion in Beskyden, Czech Rep, and Ebenstein, on the Austrian/German border. It is comprised of 26 portrait subjects; acquired photos/documents showing an intercultural family history dating back to the 1700’s; and a documentary of the trip. Traveling together from our homes in four continents/regions, we attracted the interest of the Sudetan Scholar Society and a filmmaker who accompanied us on the trip. We were also received in a televised ceremony by the Mayor of Klimkovice.
Few in my family live in our birth countries or where we were raised, including myself. With a fairly unconventional background (West African/Dominican/Czech German/British/Jamaican) comes complex life experiences and nurtured skills in social adaptability, but there is also instability within groups. My family members are nomadic in where we reside, our professions, and in how we love. It was inevitable that I would live in a constant negotiation of cultural contradictions, navigating dissonant social circumstances, and constantly explaining unlikely duo-realities.
The portraits show subjects flanked by family members who are disengaged from the viewer. This arrangement appears detached or stoic but on closer inspection, offers a combination of vulnerability and ‘support-in-isolation’.
It is experientially odd to be so closely integrated, yet undeniably distant, since most of us are geographically separated. We in all societies experience this effect of ‘globalism’ today. I find it endlessly interesting to use the camera to subjectively and conceptually examine complex cultural and racial identities, and how families actively work to preserve their history, thereby possibly preventing the isolation of younger generations.
Berette Macaulay is an awarded artist who has exhibited her work in the Caribbean, the United States, and Europe. She has a multinational/multicultural background: born in Sierra Leone, of West African/Dominican/German-Czech descent, raised in Jamaica and the UK, and now a NYC-based US citizen. Her work is heavily influenced by regular travel, and the psychosocial negotiations of identity ever present in her family and community life. Macauley’s training and experience as a performer and theater technician broadens her expression of near untenable navigations of class, race, culture, spirituality, language, and secular aspirations. She is drawn to exposing the emotional life of deep intrapersonal processes in her imagery. Often examined in her conceptual portrait work are themes of difficulty and redemption concerning: identity, introspection, vanity, confusion, loss, repression, duality, denial, delirium, and despair – the universal challenges of the human.
Berette explores other imagery, shooting abstracts, urban scenes, land, and cityscapes, and often strives to integrate various mediums of performing and visual arts in live theater and video art work. She is currently at work in image transfer/alternative print processes utilizing mixed media like wire, wood, gesso primed canvas, and acrylics. It is her desire to produce aesthetic stories that are deliberately visceral or cathartic in effect.
Berette Macaulay also works under the name SeBiArt.
Artist’s Website: sebiart.com