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Panama, 1980

Giana De Dier

My work examines the struggle, failed expectations and heritage of a displaced people – Afro-Caribbean migrants summoned to work in the Panama Canal in the early twentieth century. Collected interviews and intimate accounts inform my practice and illustrate the challenges in a segregated Canal Zone.My work draws on archival photographic images that fetishize the black body as exotic and obscure the female experience, divorcing the true narrative from the image itself. Through mixed media collage, I assemble these fragments with family photos and handwritten notes that connect shared realities in the African Diaspora. The mixed media collages highlight their contrasting racial, religious and linguistic disparities within Panamanian society and culture.

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