CHRISTOPHER SCHRECK This September, you’ll be presenting a solo show at Sadie Coles HQ: the first in a four-chapter series tracking the imagined life stages of Marcus Garvey.
ALVARO BARRINGTON Right. This first chapter is Garvey being born into the world—not literally, in terms of his biography, but metaphorically. It’s a reimagining. The work does have art historical references, but reaches into different parts of culture as well—like reggae, where women are usually referenced as Mother Nature. Bob Marley’s Uprising, flowers, etc.
CS What drew you to Garvey as a subject?
AB He’s the father of Pan-Africanism, part of the first wave of Caribbean immigrants to the UK and America, and I was thinking about how that wave, and those that followed it, were responsible for me being in Brooklyn now. But I’ve been making work about him for years. There’s a community garden next to my stepparents’ house in Flatbush with a mural of him. I remember being there, thinking, “Man, I wonder if Marcus Garvey liked flowers?” So I went home and made a painting. Then I went back and did it again. I just kept going back, spending all this time with this imagery, even after I went to London for grad school. It kept developing, and when I was talking to Sadie about doing a show, it just felt like the right work for the space. It felt organic.