For the past fifteen years I have made frequent trips to Grenada in the West Indies and photographed an island yet fully to experience the impact of "First World" development. Throughout the Caribbean, tourism has meant drastic change to every aspect of island life: economic, social and cultural.
In Grenada however, much of the agrarian infrastructure remains as it has for decades with one notable exception. The island has a primarily subsistence economy and relies heavily on its verdant terrain and once bountiful waters. The River Antoine Rum Distillery operates on waterpower as it did in the 18th century. Nutmeg and cocoa, Grenada's major crops, are still harvested and processed by hand with minimal technology. The first chocolate factory was recently established on the island. Situated in a small house in the hills, it is generated by solar power with packaging done manually. Ironically, all of this exists side by side with one of the world’s largest private medical schools.
The tourist industry in Grenada has been slow to develop.This could to some extent be attributed to the fact that in the past Grenadians have been able to live off the land. The US Intervention of 1983 has had a stalling effect on the number of foreign visitors to the island, something that continues to this day. Americans tend to hold a one-dimensional perception of Grenada: that we invaded it, and that it is dangerous. The Grenadian government does not have the resources for the aggressive promotion of tourism, and there are also governmental controls on land development.
There is currently a move afoot by certain NGO’s to create a partnership with the National Geographic Society’s Department of Sustainable Tourism, whereby an eco- tourist, preservationist approach to Grenada- its natural resources, culture and traditions with a focus on “working” communities-is hoped for.
My project is an impressionistic account of a Caribbean that is rapidly “disappearing”. I have tried to capture the quotidian life of Grenada; its work, its recreation, its rituals, both religious and secular: Grenadians working in the rum distilleries, the cocoa cooperatives, the slaughterhouses; Grenadians playing cricket, dominoes and basketball; Grenadians attending church services, weddings, funerals and celebrating Carnival Mas.
In September of 2004, Hurricane Ivan ravaged Grenada, destroying many of the characteristic Georgian structures, homes, schools, places of work and worship. My portfolio includes photographs of buildings and businesses that no longer exist and thus takes on new historical significance