Tile for Maica Gugolati's contribution: Floating Tropics
Floating Tropics . Maica Gugolati

Maica Gugolati

Floating Tropics

Welcome to Floating Tropics

The Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago shares with its neighbor country Venezuela the main arteries of oil and gas production in its national waters and lands. This country composed by 1.3 million inhabitants, exports almost 78% of its extracted oil and gas, which provides 30% of the government revenue and employs 3.4% workers of local citizens (TT extracting industry transparency).
I propose here a personal digital collage of photography that shows a magical realism, where the lands and the waters of the country are “inhabited” by its industrial, and extractive production. The photos I propose are digitally retouched in order to show the environmental fictional reconstruction of the land through the production of extraction of oil and gas.

Landscaping, from its born stage, evokes the action of shaping a land according to what the artist wants to show about it. What you see, is therefore never neutral but constructed and planned. This issue is directly linked with the notion of pictorialism, used by colonial painters and photographers to embellish and fictionalize the “new world”.

With this project, I shape the Caribbean lands and waters of Trinidad and Tobago letting them become a tropical paradise where desires, expectations, embodied knowledges, visual silencing and imposed gaze are showed. It wishes to subjectify to the lands. In the country, the industrial landscape is so pervasive in the daily visualscape that it is almost ignored by its inhabitants, though it shapes people’s daily lives. Similarly, the extractive presence is rendered invisible in the illustrations dedicated to tourism that privileges the natural “paradisiacal” sites and its festive cultural production.

This project challenges this visual omission, showing the lands and waters of the country inhabited by its industries that cohabit and are camouflaged within the environment. In so doing, I invite the viewers to recognize the presence of the industry, to assume awareness about its environmental implications, arousing consciousness toward international enterprises’ interests on the territory. My final goal is to stimulate questionings about industrial development in order to improve individual and collective engagement for a sustainable future.


take action

Maica invites you to check out and support the following initiatives:

Fishermen and friends of the sea: https://ffostt.com
Papa Bois Conservation: https://www.youtube.com/user/Papaboisconservation?app=desktop
Alice Yard Art residency: http://aliceyard.blogspot.com
East Yard Art residency: https://www.facebook.com/eastyardbycfaff/


continue to view Floating Tropics

Maica Gugolati, Floating Tropics, Floating Power-s. 2019 TT.



Floating Power-s. 2019 TT.

‘Down de islands’ is said when Trinbagonians hang out on boats or at their beach houses in the north west of the country. In this image one of these islands is occupied through a digital collage by the oil enterprise of the country. Do we see how landscaping challenges the economic power and environmental threat of a country?

Maica Gugolati, Floating Tropics, Trinis in Wonderland. 2019 TT



Trinis in Wonderland. 2019 TT.

The title is a quotation from the field note of my PhD dissertation (2018) while discussing about the gap between economic sustainability and wish of perpetuation of the life style established from the oil boom (1970s). This image is a digital collage of five different places in Trinidad that shows a surreal tropical, energetically and economically powerful wonder-land. What has been established as beautiful? Does the landscape that I see in my daily life what I want to be seen?

Maica Gugolati, Floating Tropics, ‘Bamboo Arch’, Cazabon Now. 2018 TT.



‘Bamboo Arch’, Cazabon Now. 2018 TT.

Inspired from the ‘Bamboo Arch’ painting by Michel Jean Cazabon (1850), Cazabon Now wants to provoke questions about the iconographic national representation of the country in its contemporary era. The photocollage is made of three photos.

Maica Gugolati, Floating Tropics, Sunbathing. 2019 TT.



Sunbathing. 2019 TT.

This image is a photocollage made of three original images took between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Here we see one of the most famous touristic beaches located in Tobago possessed by the industrial oil and gas presence that “watches over” the foreigner and local tourism during their vacations.

Maica Gugolati, Floating Tropics, Home



Home. 2019 TT.

This photocollage is made by four images. It reflects some of the meanings of home where domestic space, nature and gas extraction occupy the space of the human being. This last one is left as a carrier of nationalism. Home in this image is made of presence and absence; the time frames of past, present and future are showed all together.

Maica Gugolati, Floating Tropics, Narcissus. 2019 TT.



Narcissus. 2019 TT.

This is a photo collage that reveals my interpretation of a dichotomy of the country. The flourished paradisiac nature is hiding its alter-ego. Nature here is in a kind of visual psychoanalytical session, where the gas enterprise of the country is reflected by the unconscious’ mirror of water.

Maica Gugolati, Floating Tropics,“Take ah ride” (from Shadow’s song with the same title, Album “Ecstasy” 2008)



“Take ah ride” . 2019 TT.

The title is taken from Shadow’s song with the same title in their 2008 album Ecstasy. The calypso singer Shadow wrote this song about the national attitudes and the speculations that the oil and gas enrichment creates in the country. “In de future, tell me what do you see when I am riding on my big black donkey, and all dem oil wells are empty” (Shadow’s lyric). This photocollage made of fours images shows two timelines that have exploited corruptly the oil production in the country: the colonial past and the postcolonial present.

Maica Gugolati, Floating Tropics, Mirroring the Pitch lake. 2019 TT.



Mirroring the Pitch lake. 2019 TT.

What can you see from a puddle of the Pitch Lake, based in La Brea? This photocollage wants to let dive the viewer in a system of multiple visual realities. Looking at the reflection of the water left in the pitch lake during dry season, we can see a colonial bridge and oil barrels that are found abandoned along the streets. How do I shape my environment from my desires?

Maica Gugolati, Floating Tropics, Vote! 2019 TT.



Vote! 2019 TT.

This is a photocollage made of six photos. It shows as magic realism, a propaganda election poster and its hidden irony. What is it real in a landscape? What the society, the corporations and the historical heritage want to let me see and what do I want to see for my future?


Image of Maica Gugolati's work in Port of Spain, Belmont, private show. 1st-7th August 2019. Trinidad and Tobago (WI). Digital photoprints on commercial waterproof material for advertisement; Printed in TT.
Floating Tropics exhibited at Art Center East Yard 30th August 2019. Arima, Trinidad and Tobago (WI). Digital photoprint on commercial waterproof material for advertisement; Printed in TT.
Image of Maica Gugolati's work in Art exhibition at Sainsbury Centre’ School court, Norwich, UK, 3rd-6th September Digital photoprint on commercial waterproof material for advertisement; Printed in TT.
Floating Tropics art exhibition at Sainsbury Centre’ School court, Norwich, UK, 3rd-6th September Digital photoprint on commercial waterproof material for advertisement; Printed in TT.
Image of Maica Gugolati's work in Art Center East Yard 30th August 2019. Arima, Trinidad and Tobago (WI). Digital photoprint on commercial waterproof material for advertisement; Printed in TT.
Floating Tropics exhibition at Port of Spain, Belmont, private show. 1st-7th August 2019. Trinidad and Tobago (WI). Digital photoprints on commercial waterproof material for advertisement; Printed in TT.

take action

Maica invites you to check out and support the following initiatives:

Fishermen and friends of the sea: https://ffostt.com
Papa Bois Conservation: https://www.youtube.com/user/Papaboisconservation?app=desktop
Alice Yard Art residency: http://aliceyard.blogspot.com
East Yard Art residency: https://www.facebook.com/eastyardbycfaff/

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