Review: Be You at the Black Magic Woman Festival 2012

By ARC Magazine Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 Categories: Reviews, Updates

Shown in the CBK Southeast are two new films, one of which a collaboration between Danish artist Jeannette Ehlers and Dutch artist Patricia Kaersenhout. Together they produced two large drawings and a series of new photographs, along with a newly realized film The Invisible Empire (2010). The photographs presented were taken in the 17th century departments of the Statens Museum for Kunst in Kopenhagen and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, emphasizing the lack the blackness in the sections,  the artists then changed the black in the photos t0 white.

Jeannette Ehlers and Patricia Kaersenhout's - 17th Century Department (Lack Of Black).

Kaersenhout who is of Surinamese origin, work deals with themes on slavery, African Diaspora, female sexuality and racism. Ehlers works thematically revolve around Danish slave trade in colonial times. With The Invisible Empire Ehlers looks at today’s slave trade, a.k.a human trafficking and worked with her father, Roy Clement Pollard, as narrator and performer. Her father is from Trinidad and Tobago, her mother Danish. By introducing her father in this context, she subtly intertwines her personal history with the narrative of the work.

Her questioning of historical ties and personal implications unfolds a strong pull on the viewer while raising awareness for servitude in globalized societies. By involving her own ethnic background she magnifies reality to study the consequences of eroding information.

Together Kaersenhout and Ehlers produced a black and white film” The image of me” which was the opening  film at the Black Magic Woman festival 2012.  The film is a beautiful staccato ode and lamentation on black skin and its meaning. A black and a white woman are shown changing their skin color while a voiceover says The Black Prayer, which was written by an anonymus poet.

Kaersenhout’s drawings and her latest animation contain the same ambuguity. Even though the drawings date from 2009 and the animation from 2012, it’s clear that they are related. “The Poetry of Invisibility “is a quest for meaning, for essence and  sound, for a state of mind, for habitat and the freedom of movement shown in all possible media in a very elusive way.

Patricia Kaersenhout's The poetry of invisibility 2008 The protagonist in Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man sits alone in his cellar while listening to Louis' Armstrongs song: "What did I do to be so black and blue"

The drawings are almost three dimensional and consist of cuttings, paint, charcoal, linen and paper: a shabby room is the space, and a black man lies in a bed as the protagonist. The drawings are brought to life in the animation, as the man sits at a table in his room, smoke curling above his head. The sound of  a train  rushing by, dripping water, voices from a radio talking about identity and race. These heavy matters evaporate in a atmosphere of lazy heat.

Jeannette Ehlers and Patricia Kaersenhout will participate in a group show in C&H ArtSpace which will open on December 8th. For more info visit:


ARC Magazine
ARC Magazine

ARC Inc. is a non-profit print and online publication and social platform launched in 2011. It seeks to fill a certain void by offering a critical space for contemporary artists to present their work while fostering and developing critical dialogues and opportunities for crucial points of exchange. ARC is an online and social space of interaction with a developed methodology of sharing information about contemporary practices, exhibitions, partnerships, and opportunities occurring in the Caribbean region and throughout its diasporas.