WHEN EYE LAND by Star Feliz
150 x 230mm, 156 pages, Colour printing, Perfect bound, Screen printed Hardcover, Ed. of 800, 2023
The project builds on Feliz’s research-based installation work, wading into memory, intimacy, and the ancestral past to explore how the legacy of colonialism has shaped the national identity of the Dominican Republic.
What gets left behind when identity and belonging is removed from a relationship to land and spirit, shaped instead within the white European patriarchal imagination? How does colonialism live and breathe in our cells and psyche, taking root in the subconscious like a spell? Who is the Dominican land?
Assembled from historical texts and photos, colonial maps, fabulated letters, and the artist’s own family albums, When Eye Land confronts the twisted colonial visions of the Western gaze in Hispaniola in the late 19th and early 20th century. The publication unravels desire seated in the eye of the tourist, scientist and explorer, reflecting on how the constructed landscape (the “Land Columbus Loved” as National Geographic puts it) is formed by spiritual, socio-political, ecological, and cognitive processes.
Across this material the publication shows us indigenous life and its violent encounters with Spanish rule, agricultural workers, Santo Domingo’s early industry, and export crops like plantain, cashew fruit, and sugarcane. Select images are transformed with an underprinting of gold pantone ink, offering gilded adornments like those you might find in an old scrapbook. The project offers a way to re-address the cultural mythologies and commodification of the Arawak-Taino original peoples of the Caribbean, and elevate the lives of Black and rural poor hidden from view. It reflects on a brutal past, lived contemporary reality, and how we might conjure other worlds ahead.
When Eye Land concludes with an afterword by artist and writer manuel arturo abreu that builds on the project’s themes within their own experience of economic precarity, generational secrets, and transmissions from the ancestral realm. An extensive bibliography credits the source of works included and referenced, melding the project’s anthropological and personal perspective.