SUGARLAND

SugarLand is a body of work that looks at the labor involved in harvesting and producing sugar. I became interested in the subject after seeing the sugarcane harvest in the Dominican Republic.  Haitian field workers were hand-cutting ‘cana’ with machetes. Oxen teams pulled wooden carts laden with cut sugarcane from fields that stretched into the horizon. A pastoral, Bruegel scene it was not, though the harvest methods are the same as those used in the 15th century. The Haitians live separate from Dominican society in Bateys where the living conditions are barely sustaining. All this exists only a mile or two from ocean resorts as beautiful as anyplace on the planet, with turquoise water and coconut palms growing to the water’s edge. I became curious why the harvest methods were so primitive and social conditions so impoverished. The entire setting of coastal resorts, sugar cane landscape and Haitians workers - all burned an image inside my head that has not left. My art became a measure of my own awareness of the many facets that contribute to the conditions which allow us to have cheap, available sugar. The Dominican Republic and Haiti, the two countries that share the island of Hispaniola, share a violent and complicated history. I began to see that we in the developed world are complicit with hardship conditions like these in the sugar harvest.  We benefit from forced-labor conditions elsewhere. This is not unique to Haitians or to the Dominican republic - the subject is more widespread. It’s not a question of having a sweet tooth - it’s showing that sugar is not so simple.       https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/sugar-slave-trade-slavery.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage       

© 2023      Michael Pribich     sky7@mindspring.com      917-509-0239