Realms of Soualiga
Rooted in magical realism, Realms of Soualiga weaves together mythology and hauntology, building a world featuring phantasmic figures of Black Atlantic cosmologies. The series draws from Suriel’s ongoing project Ghost Island, which explores the complex, dynamic and undocumented web of influences of Black Atlantic identity beyond the conventional scope of colonial narratives.
Suriel’s main inspiration has been the stories of ghosts, or ‘jumbees’ as they are known in the Caribbean, tied to distant memories from various African lore. As a documentary of imagination, Realms of Soualiga engages magical realities rooted in a decolonial past that feeds Black Atlantic and Caribbean identities. Soualiga is the Indigenous name for Saint Martin, meaning ‘Land of Salt.’ The name links to our ancestry and is imbued with spiritual and ghostly connotations: Where do we come from? Where does our story begin?
Lisandro Suriel is an Amsterdam-based photographer and art researcher from Soualiga. As a child of the African diaspora, the idea that his history and identity might extend beyond being a descendant of slavery was never introduced to him through formal institutions. Thus, his photographic journey arose from the need to reclaim his history and identity beyond the traditional Caribbean narrative framed by a one-dimensional account of colonialism and slavery. He argues that the imaginative lens is the medium best to consider how folkloric figures act as an agent in history and animate cultural memory.
Suriel has qualifications in photography and artistic research, and his work has been featured in exhibitions such as SIPF Singapore and Photo Basel.
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