Caribbean Realities - by Hugo Ares. Published in Bold Magazine

Without a doubt, art in the Caribbean is a fusion of cultures, Spanish-Dutch-English-French and the most important and influential – the African Culture. These rich layers serve as the inspiration for many artists like Raquel Paeiwonsky from the Dominican Republic. Raquel studied Fine Arts at the School of Design Altos de Chavón and in 1991, she moved to New York where she lived and perfected her art at the New Parson School of Design. In her work, Paeiwonsky showcase the complex social realities of the Caribbean by exploring universal themes, such as identity, history, colonization, intimacy, feminism, politics and pop culture, using photography and a series of installations as the foundation for her work.


In a fascinating piece called “Re-Vuelta” (The Revolt) Raquel explores the concept of origin, the meaning of womanhood, body transgression and gender identity. In another piece titled “Levitando” we can see a cluster of feet dancing from the ceiling, allowing the viewer to re-interpret the meaning of space. This installation constitutes as an allegory to the period of slavery in the island, a denunciation of the political system and cultural product of our civilization.  One particularly notable installation is called “Muro” (The Wall), where we see abstract – large shaped pieces- resembling breasts. This installation explores the concept of womanhood, questioning the status of women, breaking away from the current concept of breasts as a symbol of power and lust in our society. Through this installation, Raquel invites the viewer to submerge himself/herself into an intimate and personal universe and see breasts as a symbol and as the essence of life.

The fusion of cultural elements put forward by Raquel calls into question the social stereotype of gender and the idea of the body. A prime example of the idea of the perfect body is analyzed with a fine-tooth comb in “Las Mutantes” (The Mutants). Here we observe a distortion of what is real and what is fiction – half bodies comes across or can be seen as new female species –.  Further to this idea of the body ad body image. “Vestial” showcase magnificent sculptures made from millions of small dolls, rags, sticks, small bags, steel rolls and little heads, recreating a new body. Raquel sees the Caribbean as an extremely diverse and eclectic cultural space. The geographical location, the colonial past and the insular condition connects us somehow “I think, in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the world, women are active in the artistic production with strong statements about what we are and what surrounds us”

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