Winsom Winsom Jumps the Big Boa; Art before Afterlife
The art world in Belize has its own flavor and the taste on each palate is different to those who delve into the rich juices offered by our culinary artisans. The Image Factory has a storehouse full of unusual artists whose images come fresh as clockwork oranges. Winsom Winsom’s “Jumping the Big Boa” is an exhibit launched somewhere between here and the afterlife. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.
Jose Sanchez, Reporting
Jumping the Big Boa is the latest exhibit to be launched at the Image Factory. The artist, Winsom Winsom, is from Ghana, via Jamaica and Canada. Her art is a temple, a shrine that pays homage to those who have transitioned from this life to the afterlife.
Winsom Winsom, Artist
“It is a rite. Jumping the Big Boa is leaving this world to enter the other world—it is a rite of passage.”
“And this particular installation behind you, you have all these notable people. Did you just pull them at random or is there a specific reason why these people are on your alter?”
“I dreamt most of them to be there. Ao I had a list on people who I wanted to be on. Just be in Belize I wanted to learn about a lot of people, so I was studying them. originally I had a lot of Canadians and Americans—foreigners—and it came to me in a dream and I think it was Andy Palacio in the dream who said so what about me and I said what about you? And he said you doing things and you are not putting me there; you forgot me. And I said no I haven’t forgotten you and I woke up from the dream and it was as if he was in the room talking to with me. And so I said ok and I started to put Andy Palacio in there and then other names started to fall in place.”
“Outside the famous characters, I noticed you had someone who recently passed away, Tiffany Ayuso. Why her?”
“Because she was young, it is recent and it is a way of honoring her and helping her to move on to what we call “ginny” land—to jump that big boa. I know she is already dead, but a lot of time I believe they do stay around until we give them permission to go.”
The installation includes the lost civilization of the Olmecs, personal attachments such as a piece sewn by Winsom’s mother. The entrance to another part of the gallery has footsteps of those who are stepping into the afterlife. The centerpiece is upside down on the table to illustrate the world is now upside down. The faces of those who were on the altar are now faded, just shadows for us who are left behind.
“I did interview about three hundred people through facebook and other means about what death means to them. I had about four questions and asked: what would you like to be remembered about you, how would you like to be remembered, what symbol would you like to be used, etc. And these are ones that I took from what people had said. And these are ones that I took from what people said and I think there are four famous people quotes in there, but majority of them are people who are living, around and they made what they wanted to be said about death. In my culture in Ghana, West Africa, when we bury somebody, we don’t just put a box. We create whatever—if they were a newspaper writer, we would create a newspaper to bury them in; if they were pilots, we would do a plane or if you always wanted to have a jaguar and in life never got your jaguar, we would build a jaguar to bury you in. So I am an artist so I used the pallet and paint brushes.”
“I was just about to ask, is this for the artists like Andy and George Gabb or is this for you? Is this the way you would want to go out?”
“This is the way I would like to go—in celebration; in a pallet. I am an artist. I thought about doing a ballerina because I have always wanted to dance and never danced. I did a pallet and one of the hardest things that I found here in Belize and the actually around the world—the western world—they do not want to talk about death. It’s the other thing; it will happen, I don’t wanna talk about it. I’ve been talking about death from since I was four years old. This body dies and is left behind. You are not forgotten, you are here, all the colors around. It is not a sad thing. Most people think of death as a sad thing; it is sad for the people who are left behind, but it is also a celebration of life. If you didn’t die, you wouldn’t have a celebration of life. So to me they are intertwined.”
“Death as a celebration of life; that is the final message.”
“We could probably do an installation for you and get all of the guys, have a party.”
“I will. I’ve actually from when I die, by invitation only. Anybody who is gonna cry and be sobby, they are not allowed to come to my funeral. And we have drummers arranged and we are going to have a big, happy drumming party to send me off happily.”
Winsom Winsom’s tribute to the faithfully departed is welcomed to those who are spirited and those who are actual spirits. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.
The exhibit opens at six thirty on Friday night at the Image Factory. A live installation will be on display.Email This Story