Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

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Sunlight on the Sea Floor

Curated by Paula Naughton and Marina Reyes Franco

Sunlight on the Sea Floor is a traveling exhibition that engages in a dialogue about the multifaceted history of the Chagos Islands, and how the experience of this post-plantation society speaks to global discussions about the contemporary legacy of colonialism. The exhibition centers on the artwork of Clement Siatous, who undertakes to build an archive from memory through an artistic vision embedded in the struggles and triumphs of the Chagos Islands’ inhabitants as they advocate for their right of return. In the face of historical erasure and displacement, Siatous seeks to preserve the collective memory, stories, and cultural heritage of the Chagossian people and his community.

While Siatous’s practice anchors the exhibition in the Chagos Islands’ rich history and culture, it also models an archiving process that is shared among artists in numerous post-plantation societies—including Barbados, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Panamá, Puerto Rico, and Mauritius, as well as their diasporas in the U.S. and the UK. Taking its title from Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott’s poem “The Sea Is History,” Sunlight on the Sea Floor shows how creative acts of archiving works against erasure for often-marginalized cultures and histories. Works on view explore the complexities and shared historical experiences of colonialism, surveillance, and the impact of military interventions on displaced communities. Through video, photography, archives, prints, installations and paintings, the works in the exhibition hold knowledge and foster connections about the intersections of history, identity, and collective memory.

Artists: Audrey Albert, Allora & Calzadilla, Shiraz Bayjoo, José Castrellón, Chagos Research Initiative, Andrea Chung, Christopher Gregory, José Morbán, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Clement Siatous, Kelly Sinnapah Mary, and Alberta Whittle


Sunlight on the Sea Floor is a traveling exhibition curated by Paula Naughton and Marina Reyes Franco (Curator, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico). It is produced by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (MAC). Sunlight on the Sea Floor is made possible with the generous support of ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum.

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For more information, please contact Becky Nahom at becky@curatorsintl.org