Curtis Talwst Santiago, Trinidadian Canadian, b. 1979
Curtis Talwst Santiago is a Trinidadian-Canadian visual artist living and working between Brooklyn, New York and Johannesburg and is currently an artist at the MOMO Artist Residency. His practice explores issues of transculturalism, memory and ancestry in the contemporary diasporic experience.
Talwst’s infinity series of miniature dioramas in reclaimed ringboxes consider the absence of certain narratives in dominant culture, drawing on the tradition of storytelling to question the production of historical understanding. The ringboxes are unusually mobile artworks; between exhibitions they close and travel with the artist. Encased in structures that protect and transport precious objects through generations, the ringboxes become symbolic of oral historical practices.
The artist’s interest in storytelling, in particular narratives from African and Caribbean culture, informs the tension between the powerful content and miniature scale. This acts as a reflection of the minimization and silencing of these histories. The lack of an immersive experience in viewing these works and their overt objecthood suggest the distance between dominant culture and the stories they hold. More recently, Talwst has introduced drawing into his practice; using paper and rocks as his surface, these works consider more directly the connection between the artist and his ancestors.
Talwst is a former apprentice of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, and artist in residence at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Talwst has exhibited internationally in solo and group shows including at Hunter College, Savannah College of Art and Design, Fortnight Institute, the Art Gallery of Mississauga and at the Studio Museum in Harlem where his work was recently acquired.