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Paraíso Maldito

Curator: Bettina Pérez Martínez
02/02/23 - 09/03/23


Access here the online exhibition

Week #1

February 2nd, 2023
Presentation of the program

Week #2

February 9th, 2023
Bemba PR

Week #3
February 16th, 2023

Nibia Pastrana Santiago

Week #4
February 23rd, 2023

Nuit Blanche event in Montreal

Week #5

March 2nd, 2023
Patricia Encarnación


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Bettina Pérez Martínez is a Puerto Rican curator, art historian, and researcher based in Montréal, Canada. Her research interests focus on Caribbean identity, diaspora and placemaking practices, decolonial studies, and the politics of ecology and climate change in the region. She is a fellow for the Bridging the Divides, a Mellon Foundation funded initiative organized by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. She holds an MA in Art History from Concordia University in Montréal, Québec and a BFA and a BA from the State University of New York, in Purchase, New York.

“But in our tourist brochures the Caribbean is a blue pool into which the republic dangles the extended foot of Florida as inflated rubber islands bob and drinks with umbrellas float towards her on a raft. This is how the islands from the shame of necessity sell themselves; this is the seasonal erosion of their identity, that high-pitched repetition of the same images of service that cannot distinguish one island from the other, with a future of polluted marinas, land deals negotiated by ministers, and all of this conducted to the music of Happy Hour and the rictus of a smile. What is the earthly paradise for our visitors? Two weeks without rain and a mahogany tan, and, at sunset, local troubadours in straw hats and floral shirts beating “Yellow Bird” and “Banana Boat Song” to death. There is a territory wider than this – wider than the limits made by the map of an island – which is the illimitable sea and what it remembers.”

Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize acceptance in Literature, 1992

Paradise is a term often used to depict an idyllic representation of bare coastal landscapes, devoid of any local presence, almost still in time, awaiting foreign consumption. Since the European colonial invasion of the Caribbean, the term Paradise and Edenic have been equated to the region because of its  climate and ecosystems. This equation is often used as a strategic tool exploited by the tourism industry, an industry vastly financed by European and North American development, to promote a colonial narrative of the Caribbean. The tourism industry in the Caribbean is then concerned with the recreation of paradise for the visitor, at the cost of the exploitation of the local landscapes and populations through servitude, austerity, and expropriation of their lands for coastal developments. 


Paraíso Maldito is an online exhibition and programme that examines tourism and its role in maintaining and upholding these colonial narratives that hinder economic development, as well as deeply affect social and political realities in the Caribbean region.  By examining and contextualizing the lived realities affecting the Caribbean, from the spread of land dispossession, the socio-political struggles through austerity, and the racial and gendered violence experienced, this exhibition presents the Caribbean as not an idyll, but rather an afflicted region experiencing colonization and empire through the tourism industry.

This exhibition is inspired by the decolonial writings of Frantz Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth, where Fanon observes the dehumanizing effects of colonization, as well as Derek Walcott’s texts that denounce and contest against this flattening of identity in the Caribbean through tourism. Tourism is then seen as a practice that promotes the dehumanization, the dispossession and the exploitation of those who are born, live and die in the Caribbean.

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