National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, Nassau, Bahamas, April 15 – October 17, 2021
“Our task is to make trouble, to stir up potent response to devastating events, as well as to settle troubled waters and rebuild quiet places.”
― Donna J. Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene
We are inheriting the untenable environment that our forebears created. With decades of work around the increasingly precarious and troubled ecologies we live in, Parotti shows us our inheritance under colonizer-capitalist greed, exhaustion, and exploitation – concepts that we are no stranger to in The Bahamas. The vibrant seascapes that make up the imaginings of the iconic Caribbean picturesque are depicted in brutal honesty with the uncomfortable realities we face in the present and the future. We are but children inheriting the Anthropocene, the geological epoch of human impact on the earth.
Bleached coral, forest fires, soil leaching, melting glaciers, catastrophic hurricanes…
All serve as harbingers heralding hard times in our contemporary, but also of brooding, bleak futures with biblical scale repercussions. Parotti’s oeuvre gives an aesthetic resisting time: at once primordial, with the natural world as old as time itself, but they also depict our present struggles and further still the crises to come. They are simultaneously a warning, an illustration, and an imagining of an increasingly frightening reality. This is made all the more poignant in the context of a post-Dorian Bahamas, and the ongoing threats of sea level rise in small island developing states such as ours. For those in the global north who inhabit spaces that see the growing climate crisis on the horizon, perhaps not as their lived reality, feeling untouched by the devastations proliferating below the equator, Parotti urges us to consider that the money, greed, and access that have made some complacent, cannot save you indefinitely.
Even in apocalyptic fires and floodwaters, we are all of us water, fluid, and indefinitely interconnected to each other. We are also, in a post-human sense, irrevocably to the spaces we inhabit and abuse. Our humanity and mortality are as inescapable as they are fickle and fragile things, we all must return to ashes to ashes, but the glistening, insidious beacon of melting ice in Parotti’s “Memento Mori” (2019) begs of us, “not like this”. The landscapes we see burning as a result of human avarice and interference will continue to go on whether or not we are present to pay witness to their desolation.
In dark irony, Parotti’s investigations into the anthropocene give us the eerie absence of human life. The empathy we feel for the habitats under undue stress and duress are perhaps projections of our own frets and distresses over uncertain futures. As Haraway in “Staying With the Trouble” invites us to reconsider relationships of all kinds in the anthropocene – our relationship to kin, to landscape, to seascape, environment. Parotti’s palpable and purposeful omission of human life is an appeal to reinsert ourselves to the landscape, to consider in deepest empathy our generations to come, with utmost care and concern for those picking up this heavy mantle after us.
The clarion call of the planet will not be ignored. This is our inheritance.
Natalie Willis, Associate Curator