In 2015, tired of waiting for the governing party to hold the long-awaited gender equality referendum that they promised as part of their election campaign, Sonia exhibited “Elect Ya Tings” at the 32nd Annual Central Bank Art Competition.
This interactive installation in the form of a voting booth and confessional allowed viewers to vote on the four proposed Constitution articles for equal treatment under the law. Because the promise for a referendum had still not been fulfilled, the referendum felt false and hollow, so these votes, as they were cast, passed through a shredder, making them redundant.
The following year, the Bahamian public voted on the four proposed article amendments during the actual referendum in June 2016 with a landslide of “no” votes. Though personally devastating, this hardly surprising outcome nevertheless revealed the referendum for what it truly has been all along: not a human rights issue, but rather a political tool.
“Cycle of Abuse” is a manifestation of this frustration, a response to the results one year later, and a disruption to this dominant, problematic, and outdated narrative. For this piece, Sonia gathered the voting ballot shreds from “Elect Ya Tings” and pulped them down to make them into blank sheets of paper. She then letterpress-printed blank voting cards onto these sheets. Each of these cards holds a thumbprint of her menstrual blood for every cycle experienced between June 2016 to July 2017, along with the declaration “I am a citizen of this nation.” Equal rights for all; we are all citizens of this nation.
This piece has been exhibited in the 34th Annual Central Bank Art Competition at the Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Gallery in Nassau, The Bahamas (2017); at the K. K. Merker Gallery at the University of Iowa Center for the Book in Iowa City (2017); and in the exhibition “Hard Mouth: From the Tongue of the Ocean” (June 22nd, 2018 — June 2nd, 2019) at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Curated by NAGB Assistant Curators Natalie Willis and Richardo Barrett, the exhibition delves into language — verbal, written, and visual — and how we go about shaping our narratives as a nation and as Caribbean subjects. Read more about the show here and the visit the NAGB website to find out more about their visiting hours.