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Germaine, Evangeline, and Other “Negro Girls”: Rudy Burckhardt's Caribbean

Germaine, Evangeline, and Other “Negro Girls”: Rudy Burckhardt's Caribbean This essay unearths and recovers the Caribbean films and photographs made by New York School artist Rudy Burckhardt in the 1930s and 1940s. It argues that Burckhardt's work, especially his 1937 experimental film Haiti , deserves to be considered as part of a Caribbean visual archive. His deployment of a formalist practice of representation offers a visual strategy that allows him to evade the many racist and tropicalizing visual clichés and stereotypes that burden North American depictions of the region. Burckhardt's interest in form and surface over content and depth draws him toward the unspectacular visual ephemera, incidental landscapes, and soft architectures often overlooked in representations of the Caribbean during the era. At the same time, however, Burckhardt's formalism and his progressive visual strategies are undermined by his accounts of his affairs with Caribbean and African American women; these encounters are cynical, exploitative, callous, and contorted by the kinds of racist logic that his art declaims. Following this, at what expense recovery? By emphasizing form and dwelling on surface, Burckhardt creates what might be referred to as a representational field of evasive presences wherein content, depth, and the messy, material questions of politics are pushed beyond the edge of the image but, as his personal history and the history of the North American encounters with the Caribbean suggest, are never far away. CiteULike Connotea Delicious Digg Facebook Google+ Reddit Technorati Twitter What's this? « Previous | Next Article » Table of Contents This Article doi: 10.1215/07990537-1548173 Small Axe 2012 Volume 16, Number 1 37: 1-19 » Abstract Full Text (PDF) Classifications Article Services Email this article to a colleague Alert me when this article is cited Alert me if a correction is posted Similar articles in this journal Similar articles in Web of Science Download to citation manager Citing Articles Load citing article information Citing articles via Web of Science Google Scholar Articles by Hudson, P. J. Related Content Load related web page information Social Bookmarking CiteULike Connotea Delicious Digg Facebook Google+ Reddit Technorati Twitter What's this? Current Issue March 2012, 16 (1 37) Alert me to new issues of Small Axe Duke University Press Journals ONLINE About the Journal Editorial Board Submission Guidelines Permissions Advertising Indexing / Abstracting Privacy Policy Subscriptions Library Resource Center Activation / Acct. Mgr. E-mail Alerts Help Feedback © 2012 by University of Oregon Print ISSN: 0799-0537 Online ISSN: 1534-6714 var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www."); document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E")); try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-5666725-1"); pageTracker._trackPageview(); } catch(err) {} http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism Duke University Press

Germaine, Evangeline, and Other “Negro Girls”: Rudy Burckhardt's Caribbean

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Duke Univ Press
ISSN
0799-0537
eISSN
1534-6714
DOI
10.1215/07990537-1548173
Publisher site
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Abstract

This essay unearths and recovers the Caribbean films and photographs made by New York School artist Rudy Burckhardt in the 1930s and 1940s. It argues that Burckhardt's work, especially his 1937 experimental film Haiti , deserves to be considered as part of a Caribbean visual archive. His deployment of a formalist practice of representation offers a visual strategy that allows him to evade the many racist and tropicalizing visual clichés and stereotypes that burden North American depictions of the region. Burckhardt's interest in form and surface over content and depth draws him toward the unspectacular visual ephemera, incidental landscapes, and soft architectures often overlooked in representations of the Caribbean during the era. At the same time, however, Burckhardt's formalism and his progressive visual strategies are undermined by his accounts of his affairs with Caribbean and African American women; these encounters are cynical, exploitative, callous, and contorted by the kinds of racist logic that his art declaims. Following this, at what expense recovery? By emphasizing form and dwelling on surface, Burckhardt creates what might be referred to as a representational field of evasive presences wherein content, depth, and the messy, material questions of politics are pushed beyond the edge of the image but, as his personal history and the history of the North American encounters with the Caribbean suggest, are never far away. CiteULike Connotea Delicious Digg Facebook Google+ Reddit Technorati Twitter What's this? « Previous | Next Article » Table of Contents This Article doi: 10.1215/07990537-1548173 Small Axe 2012 Volume 16, Number 1 37: 1-19 » Abstract Full Text (PDF) Classifications Article Services Email this article to a colleague Alert me when this article is cited Alert me if a correction is posted Similar articles in this journal Similar articles in Web of Science Download to citation manager Citing Articles Load citing article information Citing articles via Web of Science Google Scholar Articles by Hudson, P. J. Related Content Load related web page information Social Bookmarking CiteULike Connotea Delicious Digg Facebook Google+ Reddit Technorati Twitter What's this? Current Issue March 2012, 16 (1 37) Alert me to new issues of Small Axe Duke University Press Journals ONLINE About the Journal Editorial Board Submission Guidelines Permissions Advertising Indexing / Abstracting Privacy Policy Subscriptions Library Resource Center Activation / Acct. Mgr. E-mail Alerts Help Feedback © 2012 by University of Oregon Print ISSN: 0799-0537 Online ISSN: 1534-6714 var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www."); document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E")); try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-5666725-1"); pageTracker._trackPageview(); } catch(err) {}

Journal

Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of CriticismDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2012

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