Déchoukaj – uprooting colonial landscapes

Mara Chavez

Risktakers Fellowship - Mara_Chavez-SW

Déchoukaj (Haitian Creole for uprooting) is a research and documentary project that explores how unearthing and re-imaging colonial landscapes helps challenge dominant narratives in the Caribbean. The project is concerned with appropriating technologies in order to fabricate a counter archive that re-centers the stories of people in Martinique, Barbados and St. Lucia. The final output is a speculative documentary that reflects on the construction of memory and identity.

What will you be working on during the fellowship?

During the fellowship I will collect and generate material for a mixed media documentary made with communities in the Lesser Antilles. The goal is to explore the idea of regenerative memorialisation. For this purpose, I will experiment with photogrammetry and AI. I aim to put these technologies into the service of local communities in order to spur the imagination and creation of new statues and memory-spaces. This is an attempt to repair the wounds caused by previous exclusion an erasure.

To what future do you aspire?

I strive for a future in which we have dismantled supremacist, capitalist patriarchy and concerted our efforts to avert environmental catastrophe. But to be able to imagine an inclusive future, the silenced stories need to be reflected in history first. Too many remain absent. I believe that reinserting marginalised narratives into history has the potential to shape a fairer and safer society.

What does being a risktaker mean to you?

To me, being a risktaker means daring to explore and experiment with new ways of telling stories.