C&AL: How is nature related to your interest in examining a society and culture traversed by a colonial system?
MB: Nature could be viewed as a Caribbean cliché of the tropical. In reality however, it contains a constant and slow aggressiveness that penetrates any organic material.
The colonial system, in particular, is built from a model of assimilation, not integration.
This model undergoes a process of dehumanization of man, woman, of the human being, and goes through force and physical violence in the plantation system, but also through a mental violence which, while transmitted in a subtle way, is no less violent. I continue to observe this type of violence in Guadeloupe today.
One of the most striking aspects of the colonial system is that people are disconnected from their territory; they do not know their flora and fauna and their healing powers and strengths.
Working with visually poetic objects allows me to voice political issues without becoming aggressive or confrontational. I think my relationship with nature goes through a process of observation which is nourished by other processes.
Nature is both a source of strength and a source of answers and it plays an important role when talking about the issue of soil contamination, for example, in Guadeloupe. As a result of the banana monoculture, pesticides were used which contaminated the soil, the rivers, the sea, the fish and obviously the humans and their food. The same thing is happening in Martinique. This contamination happened because the French State gave the authorizations, while knowing perfectly well that it was poisoning an entire population at very high levels.
For me, the banana tree is a representation of how French colonialism operates in our bodies today. However, I am also interested in the plant’s healing powers; the banana flower can help heal the uterus. For me, this is an opportunity to talk about healing and about the relationship we have with sexuality, since soil contamination touches the most intimate areas, the sexual organs of the population, it attacks the brains of children. It is a tremendous ecological and human scandal.