Through addressing the complex nature of bodies queered by crisis, bodies passed over as invisible and disposable, bodies confronted with the physical realities of a world not designed for their survival, Patterson's work attempts to find elegy for figures and moments already fading away.
Presented for the first time in London, the video work The Whole World Is Turning centers the exhibition around a queer retelling of hurricanes. This work was conceived by Patterson after Hurricane Dorian hit the Caribbean and devastated the Bahamas in the autumn of 2019, leaving a wake of material and emotional turmoil.
Tropical hurricanes have always played a key part in the social fabric of life and death within the Caribbean, which is one of the front lines of the climate crisis. Yet rising sea levels and temperatures continue to exacerbate the destructive effects of hurricane season. Rather than casting the hurricane as a malignant force of nature to blame, or a spirit of revenge to curse, Patterson casts it as a regular visitor and familiar guest disorientated. Personified with a swollen eye the hurricane appears confused and unable to explain herself. Perhaps we should view the erratic behavior she exhibits, as well as our own erratic experiences, as symptoms of our world being caught in the crosshairs of climate imperialism rather than her as the primary agent of destruction.
The devastating impact of Dorian also partially inspired Patterson’s Kanga for the Present textile works which bring contemporary inspiration to this East African ancestral garment tradition. This is a deeply personal project, conveying the life experiences and reflections of the artist through the garment they wore as a child – introduced to kanga by her mother. Each kanga has a naming phrase upon it which prays, prophesies, hopes, wishes, blesses, laughs, mocks, criticizes, warns, teaches, imagines, protects or curses. Traditionally, someone would gift a kanga to a person for whom its name is meaningful. The artist began making kanga as a means to find what little words they could muster for what was happening across the Caribbean, what will continue to happen in our climate-queered world, in our world queered by crisis. Kanga for the Present materialises thoughts, words, and experiences as gifts given to the world out of love, regardless of how soft, tough, or just simply complicated that is.
Accompanying The Whole World is Turning, flanked by kanga, another video work paired with a textile pitchfork sculpture is Buchibushi. This film tells the quasi-allegorical story of an aloe farmer born from scorched earth, and of what drought-affected riverbeds and other dwindling bodies of water may be able to teach humanity in a fast changing world. Tending to a plot of aloe, a crop known for its resilience and healing properties the protagonist and the film provide a little hope while grieving for a world that may be beyond repair.
About the artist: ADA M. PATTERSON b. 1994, Bridgetown, Barbados. Lives and works in between Rotterdam, Barbados and London. Recent and upcoming projects include ‘Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1950s – Now’ at Tate Britain, London and 'The Whole World is Turning' at TENT, Rotterdam, the exhibition at the Art Gallery of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, the residency 'Live Works" at Centrale Fies, Dro, Italy, and the publication 'Accessories to this love' included in 'The Material Kinship Reader' by Clementine Edwards & Kris Dittel, published by Onomatopee (Eindhoven, NL).