SATURDAY 11/19-SUNDAY 3/26. THE Momentary, Bentonville. Free.
Raised close to the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic in Loma de Cabrera, Firelei Báez grew up in an space of intersecting cultures and complicated notions of id. The artist’s immersive work, “To breathe full and free: a declaration, a re-visioning, a correction (19º36’16.9”N 72º13’07.0’’W, 42º21’48.762’’N 71º1’59.628’’W, 36° 22’ 0.1848” N94° 12’ 8.64” W),” constructs her imagined model of the Sans-Souci Palace in Haiti, a website the place Henri Christophe — a former slave turned common — reconfigured his place in historical past and declared himself sovereign. Sans-Souci, which might be translated colloquially as “no worries,” was destroyed by an earthquake in 1842, and Haiti, the primary Black republic, suffered as its financial system was pummeled by French taxation. Báez’s inventive follow is rooted in errant histories, or the understanding that historiography — the writing of historic narratives — is a course of rife with its personal fictions, biases and erasures. Among the many immersive architectural sculptures are reproduced maps; a cerulean cover evoking constellations and underwater reflections; illustrations referencing 18th century botanist Carl Linneaus’ depictions of the New World — during which the Indigenous inhabitants have been categorized as bestial; and pictures from Dominican folklore, such because the wandering ciguapas, libidinous feminine tricksters with backward legs, whom the artist renders with fur and flora. Báez has described the ciguapas as functioning like receptacles for the abject, or unaccepted, values of the tradition and the way, upon deeper studying, they characterize feminine company. Of her painterly and vivid works, the artist has mentioned she doesn’t need to create “narratives of victimhood,” however quite flip the script to incorporate fantastically subversive photos of freedom.