JW: Can you talk a little about your process of making the images in your show? How did these images come into being?
HB: After battling for the longest time over how to relate my practice to my many
concerns socially and conceptually, I decided that I needed to dig a bit further to
get to the marrow of my curiosity. Photography and how I partook and fed off of it
really opened up late last year, I began looking at my families archive and really
thinking about the specificity of the West Indies, it’s culture, language and
I started the “Compounds” what you may refer to as collages late October 2009.
They began very didactic, very one to one in the ratio of text and image. I
collected and scanned images from a variety of sources, including my immediate
and extended family’s archive, historical books, objects specific to the area etc. I
spent a lot of time in the pictures section of the New York Public Library going
through folders of old marine architecture, whaling, slavery, Sugar and maps.
Symbols and iconography that were broad enough to begin exploring something
that was intrinsic and specific to my concerns and interests but also the broader
issue of Colonization and Anglophone rule.
They developed over time into these fragments and bits that started to move
without my implicit permission. Using Photoshop as a tool for the first time in a
really self conscious and intuitive way I approached each layer, each photograph
as a way for me to displace, veil and reveal information. I frequently go back to
see how edit one differs from what I consider being the assemblages that were
included in my thesis show and the evolution leaves me speechless. I return to
them for inspiration whenever I am stuck, knowing that they hold a certain trust
and a certain kinetic energy that I can learn from.
JW: Do you feel that you have two home bases?
HB: I think right now I do. I intend to give myself some time from my home country in order to grow and reach my full potential as an artist. I have only had a very short time to really delve into creating and so much as changed since September 2008, it would be a tragedy if I fail to adopt NYC as my surrogate. I am giving her seven years!
JW: Can you talk a little about how you identify with and function in both places?
HB: I moved to New York city for the first time in 2001 right after 9/11. Funny enough it called me then, I lived here till 2006 doing my undergrad in Communications then went back home to Bequia, St. Vincent for two years. I worked as a Production Manager at an Advertising Media Agency. After 6 months ennui set in and I started trying to really consider photography and visual arts as an outlet for me. After two years the island consumed all of me, so naturally New York was high on my list of places to return to.
It was hard for me settling back into the velocity of the city and of course the
degree. It was like hitting a brick wall but sometime at the end of my first year
New York began feeling really right, I began really understanding how the
currency and consciousness of images and histories collide. And right now I am
intoxicated by it, by the possibilities it offers, by its hunger, enormity and its rage,
mostly I am now addicted to the learning process. Metropolitan cities have that
dichotomy of being hostile and generous, really contradictory.
Bequia is in my marrow, lodged deep in my blood. I think everything about who I
am; intuition, strength and sensitivity were engrained in me by the lay of the land.
It is the foundation of my morality, which makes it easy to understand why I left, I
think you need to be removed from all that weight in order to look at what you
know with a sense of objectivity, my attitude to art and the simple act of creating
was being bogged down by cultural expectations and limitations: sexism, racism,
homophobia to name a few. It is however my foundation, my discipline and work
ethic operate organically because of that base.
Both New York and Bequia make my head spin and my heartache.
JW: In your statement, you mention, “genealogical research.” Can you tell me if you found out anything really interesting about a family member that you didn’t know before?
HB: My father exaggerates my mother doubts. It is interesting going over the
collective archives. I found out a couple things, how true they are, who can say? I
1. We come from a line of Whalers/Pirates. The first being solider Bynoe who
some say got found on his way to Bequia.
2. In the late 40’s my mother’s father, my grandfather went into the business
of financing and building an old schooner with his family, one of the men
his Brother in law Frankie. Frankie was a wild man, one of those men they
couldn’t tie to the shore with rope, they had to weld him down to stay in
one spot. M.V Gloria Colita on route to St. Maarten, Grandfather changed
spots with Frankie because of some issue he had to deal with at home,
after they offloaded the cargo which was mostly ground provision,
bananas etc they decided to have a drink or two. Sugar Production in the
Caribbean was still at a high back then, so after a little too much to drink
and not enough ballast in the schooner they headed southeast. Homeward
Wind and God’s water beat the ship into oblivion.
Everyone perished except “Brother King” who after three days
shipwrecked at sea was rescued by a Hawksbill turtle.
3. My father took photographs in his 20’s.
This of course is the starting point of Volume II in my collection
To sea to see the sea.
JW: What are your plans for the immediate future?
HB: I am looking into different grants and residencies at the moment. I think it
is going to be crucial for me to maintain a rigid system around me once I
am done with the degree. My personality needs that push and that system
in order to really propel the creative process. So I have been looking into
some opportunities that will help me deal with material and materiality in a
more sensitive and ambitious way. I have been thinking about books,
papers, gels, mirrors, glass and alternative photographic processes. It is
strange because I feel as though my process and output just really aligned
in a really magical way to afford me some space to think about what more
can I do. I have also been thinking about form and foundation.
I am currently interning at A.I.R Gallery and I love the democratic
environment and the amount of really interesting people that pass through
the space each time I am there. It is a joyous experience for me, which
keeps me on my toes and enables me the opportunity to connect with
established and prolific artists. There is a discourse that surrounds their
practice and mine and we share frustrations, anxieties, philosophies and
My main goal after school is to find a job. Isn’t everyone’s? I want to work
in an environment that will allow me to contribute my talent, heart and
mind in an artistic, social and cultural manner. I have been thinking about
not for profit spaces, community programs with children under 13, working
with new media and even arts administration. I am keeping my prospects
broad as I want to give myself the chance to explore avenues that are
hidden from me as well. I want to also assist Professors in continuing
education classes at the ICP and in the full time General Studies program.
Once I find my footing and language I may even want to see if I can try my
hand at teaching. It is after all in my blood.
Holly has just closed her show, 40ºN 74ºW / 13ºN 61ºW . For more information about Holly and her work, go to: www.hollybynoe.com .