Inheritance

Amanda Coulson, Director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, and Director of Volta NY writes:

“Lynn Parotti’s 12-panel “Inheritance” continues research that started with the photographic cycle, “Slave House,” produced for the NE8 (Eighth National Exhibition) at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas in 2016. In the first series, Parotti created lush images that blended the desolate ruins of a former great house on the island of Exuma with the stunning stately home of the Rothschild family, which is still maintained in all its extravagance by the UK’s National Trust; the series spoke to land ownership, the rights of slave descendants, and what the former colonizer still values or cares to remember or record. In the current series, Parotti examines the actual worth of the trade, by copying the elegant handwriting that accorded a value to living beings in various ledgers. The names—though British—are not uncommon to us in The Bahamas, as many citizens still carry the surnames of the former slave masters; the prices ascribed to each family is the amount the British Government paid as compensation for loss of “property” when slavery was abolished. To pay the over 46,000 claims—applied for by people of all classes, not only the wealthy, so deep was slavery entrenched in everyday life—Great Britain took out a loan of 20 million pounds (£10m for slave-owning families in the Caribbean and Africa, and the other half for absentee owners living in Britain), borrowed from the aforementioned Rothschild family. It should be noted while John Austin, received £20,511 for his 415 slaves, (a sum worth nearly £17million today), the slaves were not even given their “40 acres and a mule” to begin a new life, with many ending up as sharecroppers for former masters.”

Additional photography:
HALLE 14, Leipzig | Büro für Fotografie