The Caribbean is much more than paradise or a playground for the rich and the famous as many throughout the world believe.
In fact, the region became one of the world's first examples of globalization because of the scourge of slavery, according to Caribbean artist, Annalee Davis.
The Barbadian artist challenged the traditional view of the Caribbean as paradise at last month's 2010 Biennial of the Americas, an international event that celebrates the culture, ideas and people of the Western Hemisphere, hosted by the City of Denver.
"Those who live and work in the Caribbean understand that regional society is more complex than any marketing strategy can communicate or any tourist can appreciate," declared the contemporary artist who pointed that "when one thinks of paradise, labour issues, migrant discrimination and displacement do not come to mind immediately."
Because of colonisation, slavery and indentured labor, "the Caribbean basin became the first platform for globalisation in the world," she told national and international delegates who assembled for a cross-cultural experience bridging and unifying the artistic, intellectual and political progress of the hemisphere's 35 nations
"This legacy has created one of the most diverse areas of world," said Davis, "however, it has left us with several concerns, such as island insularity and harmful land use policies, even in the face of regional attempts to integrate and develop better lives for Caribbean citizens."
Annalee Davis engaged the Biennial of the Americas in a discussion of the complexities of the Caribbean society in a presentation entitled "Perspectives of a Caribbean Contemporary Creative on Living and Working in 'Paradise'". The discussion complemented a thorough examination of Davis' work and covered the dissection of some of the most pressing challenges facing Caribbean societies in today's new era of globalisation.
The Barbadian and Bimventures-funded entrepreneur also showed how the diversity of the Caribbean experience inspired and gave birth to the creative artistic and intellectual genius of the region. The examination of both the successes and failures of the region challenged those present to view the Caribbean as more complex and textured than a 'paradise'.
Through the comprehensive coordination of art exhibitions, cultural programming and conversational round-tables, the Biennial of the Americas brought together established and emerging leaders in the the arts, culture, sciences, politics, economics and technology communities, facilitating the development of a unified vision for the future of the Western Hemisphere.
The 2010 Biennial launched ideas to encourage collaboration, artful thinking, and to promote positive change.