Water Wars, 2019.
Nic Brierre Aziz (in collaboration with Maya Jevans)
Archival Inkjet Print
Deep in Earth’s oceans are mystical organisms that are four times thinner than human hair and waiting for the arrival of nutrient-filled sediments that have been washed over the planet’s mountains. These organisms, known as “diatoms,” are the secret to the earth’s oxygen supply and are responsible for 50% of the breaths that we take as humans. During the Victorian Era in the United Kingdom (1837-1901), professional microscopists began crafting intricate patterns of these algae that would become known as “diatom arrangements” and be sold to nature enthusiasts who would exhibit them at social gatherings. The interests for these microscopically-manipulated creations hit a peak toward the end of the 1800s as this was also a period when the arts and sciences were more aligned.
Thirty-four years prior to the beginning of the Victorian Era, enslaved Africans on the island formerly known as Saint-Domingue were victorious in their fight for freedom and established Ayiti (Haiti) as the first independent black republic in the world. This revolution began in the middle of the woods in 1791 during a Vodou ceremony in which different lwa (spirits) were called upon for guidance and assistance. Ogou, the lwa representing strength and freedom, is also believed to be the lwa that possessed the enslaved Africans to victory during the revolution - and this spirit’s impact would go onto influence freedom movements in countries such as Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia. This collaborative illustration combines the vévés of Ogou and La Sirene - the lwa considered to be the “Queen of the Sea” - with the diatomic arrangement styles of the Victorian Era in an effort to create new possibilities for the amalgamation of art and science while illuminating the essentiality that women and water play to the concept of freedom and life itself.