A collaborative installation by: Edgar Endress, Janet Cook-Rutnik and Lori Lee.

TRANSFER PROJECT has been funded by a: University of the Virgin Islands Cultural Award grant and in part by the VI Council on the Humanities, the VI Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Special thanks to: Edgar Lake, Landmarks Society, David Knight, Dr. Gilbert Sprauve, Candia Atwater and Sgt. Maj. Leroy Mars, Corp. Charles and the Girls and Boys of the award winning Eudora Kean High School ROTC Drill Teams.

In the Caribbean region, migration is, and always has been, a way of life. Migrations have been critical for shaping the mental landscapes of the local populations in the past and present. This multifaceted project explores varying degrees of transhumance, including temporary tourists, short-term and long-term migrations, and permanent migrations both legal and illegal. When the Danish first occupied the islands that became the Danish West Indies, the Native Taino population was critically diminished, choosing to flee the islands to escape the Europeans who killed and enslaved them. Danish occupation brought Dutch, Danish, Moravian, French, Irish, and Scottish overseers, planters, missionaries, families, and free and enslaved Africans. Continuous migration, both voluntary and forced, shaped the identities of the Virgin Islands communities. This migration process continues with unabated legal and illegal migration from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, other Caribbean islands, China, and the Middle East. Each year millions of tourists temporarily migrate to and from the islands on their quest for recreation. Before traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, tourists see brochures of non-peopled landscapes. The main purpose of our project is to return focus to the people of the Virgin Islands, to their history, culture, and heritage, which are interwoven with threads of migrations. This project highlights the visual and cultural landscape of the Virgin Islands in the era preceding the transfer and shortly thereafter, through a selection of images of people and oral histories of people that composed Virgin Islands society in the early twentieth century, and the historical memory of the event that has been passed on to later generations. Dr. Sprauve likened the images of the local people witnessing the event in Peppino Mabgravitte’s Transfer Day mural at Government House to ghosts. In this sense, the local community were liminal observers to an event in which they had no active political role. In simulation of this, life size images of local inhabitants have been transferred onto a gauzy fabric and they serve as witnesses to

the Transfer and the consequent changes that migration wrought. Unlike their still life counterparts in the painting, these individuals are in motion, signifying that on a local level the individuals were engaged in active transfer of themselves from one location to another, simultaneously on the outskirts of the political arena yet at the center of engaging in local social practices, such as travel, that shaped and were shaped by the Transfer event. Transfer Project is a contemporary art and cultural history project that embraces migration in the Caribbean while spotlighting emigration that took place around the time of the Danish Transfer of the Virgin Islands to the United States on March 31, 1917. The art exhibitions utilize video, installation, photography and oral history to reconstruct the event. The event is examined and fleshed out with the lived experience of individuals who experienced it. The migration process was initiated long before the transfer of the islands, yet the transfer initiated a change in status that changed the formal emigration procedures, which are preserved in the form of photo identification cards that were archived by the United States in the National Archives. On the second floor of the National Archives II, in College Park, Maryland are a series of books that catalogue every item within the archive, which is organized by place. The Virgin Islands are assigned to Record Group 55. Within this group are a series of passport applications for individuals and families who desired to travel from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the continental United States from 1918 to 1945. Archives serve as carefully constructed warehouses of memory. In this case, the memory is constructed from the perspective of the United States government. What is lacking is the experience of the documented events from multiple vantage points. Oral histories, in the form of narratives, are alternative repositories of personal and collective memories. We recontextualize photo identification card images from the National Archives to consider their multiple meanings.

This recontextualization of the images provides a resonant description which challenges the nature of an event and highlights its reality as a process that is an accumulation of time before and since the event. Different voices emphasize the multifaceted nature of an event, which has different meanings for each individual. For Miss Meada, (Andromeada Keating Titley), the Transfer evoked memories of red American apples, a commodity that was given to children on that day and which became more common after the Transfer. The disconnect between the Danish past and American present were highlighted in her recollection of the singing of the Danish national anthem and the silence of the local community when the band played the American national anthem. For Aunt Sula (Ursula Krigger), the Transfer was remembered in terms of family connections, as an occasion where her brother played in the Naval band during the celebration. The significance of the event in her eyes was the consequent changes in the educational system initiated by the Americans. The historical event of Transfer Day is a snapshot that is created from the continuous processes of time and memory. Through narrative and archives the event is carded, combed, and woven into the fabric of historical memory of Transfer Day in the United States Virgin Islands. Our project has both artistic and historical elements. The historical goal of the Transfer Project is to reconstitute some of the histories

of individuals and families in the U. S. Virgin Islands who applied for travel passports, both those who returned to the island and those who did not. We want to trace the trajectories of the passport applicants— what are their stories before they applied for the passports and what happened to them, and their descendants, afterward? The goal is to have the greatest public knowledge of the project possible, to incorporate as many voices as possible. We want to reframe the archive created by colonial entities by shifting people from the role of object to subject. This puts Virgin Islanders back in control of their own histories, returning these narratives where they belong, to the U.S. Virgin Islands. The end result incorporates the histories, essays, and art, into a book for Virgin Islanders regarding the historical moment of transfer and the processes that it initiated from the perspective of Virgin Islanders. This book is an initial step toward that goal and it will be expanded as research continues. To counteract the exclusivity of access to information, which was an important reason for the initiation of this project, these documents, essays, and documentation of art will be made available on the web with open access to everyone (www.transferproject.vi). Note: This project was inspired by David Knight’s research, which resulted in a publication of data from the passport applications he located in the National Archive.

Project

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Transfer Project

documentation 2005/09

Photographs Passports from 1919 Transfer to Silk
(24 x 30 inc)

“Deer/donkey” explores the origins and distribution of a mythical creature—a hybrid of local deer and donkey populations. Both deer and donkeys were brought to the Virgin Islands as a result of colonization, to serve specific needs of colonists. The deer and donkeys serve as metaphors for different groups of people who came to the islands historically and the unpredictable results of this cohabitation. The colonists are gone but the deer and donkey remain, surviving periodic attempts to eradicate them because of their impact on indigenous flora and fauna. Yet they remain because they belong. Images of the deer/donkey are situated in the center room of the gallery which is set up in a way that recalls the Danish West Indian parlor room in the era of Transfer. Metaphors of migration are entangled in the details of the wallpaper hung in this room. Passport images of Virgin Island travelers are also revealed here. Their presence in this room, also established by creating a foundation of books covered in prints of contemporary passports beneath the table, emphasizes that they are the ancestors who establish a historical foundation for many Virgin Islanders of the present. The circular frames of the deer/donkey images on the opposite wall recall ship portals, creating a dialogue between the travelers and the material manifestations of colonization.

Because of their long history of geographic isolation, the U.S. Virgin Islands are home to few native terrestrial mammals. Eleven species of non-native mammals have established feral or free-ranging populations, including the Donkey (Equus asinus) and White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Donkeys were used extensively during the Danish plantation era and beyond, for transportation and to operate animal-driven sugar mills. The need for donkeys has declined but they persist in feral populations. White-tailed deer were introduced to the U.S. Virgin Islands from the southern United States ca. 1790 for hunting and sport. The deer are noted to have a small home range, which has prevented them from becoming exterminated in many areas.

A new species appeared in the USVI in the early nineteenth century. This species, the Deer donkey (Equus virginianus) combines attributes of each parent species, the donkey and deer. All male deer donkeys and most female deer donkeys are infertile. Several phenotypic variations are noted among observed deer donkeys. Most common are deer donkeys that display most features typical to donkeys with the addition of deer antlers. Most unusual is a variety that manifests deer antlers not only on the head, but also protruding from the trunk of the body. This mutation makes the animal unable to transport goods or humans or to be harnessed to labor at the mill. Due to the decline of donkeys in the U.S. Virgin Islands, these species are endangered.

“Red Birds” superimposes images of animals over historic photographs. The animals open a dialogue about biblical paradise and the fable of the Caribbean as a utopia, while at the same time representing migratory beings. The historic photographs represent realism. The banners beneath the photographs proclaims “I maintain” in various colonial languages, emphasizing the endurance of local culture despite the ruptures wrought by migration. The images are printed on silk, which creates movement, emphasizing a central theme of migration, which continues in the back gallery with additional screen prints.

I will Maintain
Print on Silk (36 x 28 inc)

“Stomp” is a two channel video projection created from video of St. Thomas Eudora Kean High School’s drill team. “Stomp” evokes the multilayered history of the islands, particularly ritual, gender, military power, and cultural continuity and transformation. This piece also emphasizes the importance of youth in cultural continuity and transformation through performance.

“Daily Bread” is comprised of images of USVI governors. The images of the governors are cut from paper plates. When light is projected through the plates, the images are transferred to the wall. This piece considers power after the transfer of the islands by recontextualizing images of political figures on mundane paper plates—objects used daily for food consumption. Placing the images here highlights the rituals of mealtime, the status and class hierarchies invoked in these daily rituals through material culture, and the new political and power relationships established, challenged, and maintained through the new USVI government and its evolution over time.

“Dream Journey” considers the juxtaposition of physical landscapes and mental landscapes, both real and imagined. Romance novels are found in abundance on Caribbean islands as a result of tourists bringing them, and then leaving them behind when they return home. These romance novels are often set in the context of the islands with

themes of pirates, sirens, and mermaids. For the tourist, the temporary migrant, the novel is a gateway to enter paradise. Although tourists’ mental landscapes of the Caribbean are not a reflection of the actual physical and cultural landscapes that exist in the islands, the utopian trope of paradise remains constant.

Notes on the 1918 Travel Passes The image on the postcard invitation of this installation exhibit features the cool gaze of 19 year-old Rudolph Ulysses Lanclos. Indeed, his bowler hat – perhaps shale-stone gray with black ribbon trim – but, now sporting a fiery brown, sits smartly above his ears with tilted jaunty pride. Two things betray his vaunted intent in sailing to New York City aboard the steamship, Saga: his stated purpose so disarmingly casual: “visiting a friend Allan O’Neal, at 164 West 144 Street;” and his right lapel sporting a small shamrock fraternity pin. From his tab collar hangs a white silk tie, a veritable shaft of light illuminating his eyes. Ulysses (for that is the name I’m using for this traveler across Time), leaves us designated as a Clerk, but appears as a “Dentist/Doctor” in the 1930 Census, when he returns to St. Thomas to work in the Municipal Hospital. He comes from a remarkable family: His mother, Hildah, is a homemaker; his father, Hubert, was

a bookkeeper; one sister, Rosamond, was a teacher; another sister, Evelyn, was a telephone operator. Indeed, one of Hildah’s - and Hubert’s - grandsons was Rudolph Galiber. Ulysses, then, belongs to that long line of returnees connected to our present-day medical corps: descendants of these estates’ grandmother mid-wives, and Aid societies, long remembered in the Virgin Islands. One gains particular democratic insights from the watershed of faces, recipients of the 1918 US Immigration-issued Travel Passes to persons residing in the newly purchased United States Virgin Islands. In the currency of heritage exchange, these applicants were among the first Virgin Islanders to formally engage with the new empire, The United States of America, encrypting their biographies, their variegated social intents and purposes for leaving their homelands. Thus, the Nativity of so wide a pan-Caribbean field of 1918 applicants is a remarkable footnote to an emerging Virgin Islands democratic vision. Details of familial ties, occupation, age and institutional memberships verifying their identities belie the immutable strata of kinships, culture, and heritages that offer portals into genealogical contours and inter-island legacies. There are other buried constellations, in fact: a rich assortment that includes the maritime records of ships’ names and dates of departure to sundry ports. There are Letters of Recommendation, Baptism Certificates, Marriage Licenses and Police Declarations with administrative and civic vernaculars of their own; each with marginalia and innovative addendums related to the change of status of these islands and jurisdictional matters of colonial agencies. The tournament of officials’ names denoting past colonial authority now stand as a footnote of diminution. A sobering and little-discussed caveat lay strewn in the vestibule of History: the compiled list of persons who declared their desire to preserve or retain their Danish citizenship. One sees the proverbial needle’s eye errantly lodged between the vestibule’s floorboards, parents and their unsuspecting children unwittingly exercising a dubious Right, whether born in Denmark or these islands. But it is the photographic image of the Travel Passes – the first formal engagements of an impending US Citizenship – that speak most eloquently across Time. They are, unquestionably, among the first expressions of our 20th century Modernism. Aside from evidencing a curious sartorial elegance and group portraiture, they objectify our hopes and dreams in realm of The Gaze; our encounter with moving image technology beginning with the steam-engine estate-workers of the mid 1850s, and later, with Lindbergh’s pan-Caribbean landings of the Jazz Age. Edgar O. Lake

Rebecca Wilhemina Roberts, a 25 year-old seamstress and native of St. John, leaves her Charlotte Amalie Address at No. 36 Norre Gade and applies for her Travel Pass on December 29, 1917. Her scribal words belie her time. Born on the 12th of December, 1892, Rebecca writes that she was born at “St. Jan,” and intends to leave on the steamship Guiana. Her scrawl accelerates in sharp ascent, and tacit declaration: “A visit. Brother Ralph Roberts, 677 Lenox Ave New York City.” Yet all three facts will change. Almost six months later, she received her pass on June, 5, 1918. The designation of her native island, her intended good-luck ship, Guiana, and her initially stated New York City address, will all change. The Naval Police clerk’s deliberate term, St. John, changes her own scribal, “St. Jans.” Then, her curiously assigned destination changes to now 225 West 143rd Street. Lastly, Rebecca is assigned passage on the steamship, Korona. From her tentatively hand-written application, to scribed Travel Pass, only the section “purpose,” remains constant from start to finish. Wilhelmina’s bureaucratic navigation in attempting to re-establish contact with her brother, inadvertently provides a cross-street address – to better confirm her destination: a veritable walking grid of Virgin Islands-New York civic and political organizations. Rebecca – no doubt a namesake of the 18th century Danish West Indian Moravian internationally known pioneer – is a member of the “Emmaus” Moravian Church on the East End of St. John. She carries a Baptism Certificate signed by Reverend A.B. Konig. Five

Sponsors’ signatures etched at the time of her baptism (January 5, 1893), a five-day infant carried from Estate Little Plantation in the swaddling arms of her parents: Samuel Augustus and Annie E. Roberts. One cannot help noticing the erectness of her posture: a resolute elegance and alertness in her serene portrait. She stands beneath a Moravian seal, holding a branch of the common fern. Rebecca holds the fern as if she was a flautist, a poet finishing a parchment. Or, is her portrait a subtle post-1917 peasant-societal fraternal posting: using her native Flora as a pastoral plume (indigo, or charcoal), a posture so deeply akin to American Poet, Phyllis Wheatley? Her soft dress with high neckline framed by a spun-gold medallion and flared embroidered cuffs revealing a cultured pearl bracelet, speaks volumes of her ancestral fishing legacy and her dressmaking skills and traditions. Imagine, Winnold Reiss’s 1925 Harlem Renaissance published portfolio (“Four Portraits of Negro Women”), with one portrait of a Virgin Islands woman! Is it Rebecca’s soft cotton collar, sketched broader now with age and Grace; the hair misted and oiled; her gaze lowered and pensive? Indigo, once grown at her birthplace, Estate Little Plantation, complimented cotton farming which once flourished in -18th-19th century Danish West Indies. Rebecca, seamstress and immigrant - her enigmatic story boldly sewn in the fabric of our people’s democratic vision. Edgar O. Lake

Annesta Francis, is the 109th applicant for a US Travel Pass in St. Thomas. Yet, she is a native of St. Croix, and, at 23 years old already a veteran cook – saucy, even in the pucker of her eloquent mouth – setting out on August 5, 1918, from her residence at Commanding Gade No. 10. Whom does she cook for - humming those early-morning church tunes over stew; or, baking home-made bread? She can hardly wait to see the written phrase (“and is an American citizen…”) written on her own Travel Pass. But, at the Administration Building, the Naval Police clerk prophetically retraces his mistaken spelling of the word (American) in the pivotal phrase: “and is an American.” He first spells it (Amercan), no doubt a phonetic contraction - but, doubly so - and at Annesta’s expense. He also mistypes her name (Anesta), although it is Annesta – for that is how she signs her name. Annesta has already left her native island home, St. Croix, though not forgetting the churchyard of St. Patrick’s Church, West End. Reverend George Englert has sent her Extract of Baptism, five months before – less six days. Days really matter, particularly for someone already in-transit, and before she gives the certificate to the police clerk, Ensign Theile, she notices, there too, her name is written with one “n.” No matter. Clothes, and traveling papers, both to gather: iron and fold. She presents two pictures across the polished mahogany desk: her picture shows a tear-filled left eye; the right one seems proudly defiant and determined of her mission to improve her station in life. Her baptism shows that Annesta is the daughter of William and Margaret Francis, with baptism sponsors (and doting God-parents) Joseph James and Rebecca McBean. At five months old, Annesta was already crying at the world, even as Reverend Verlooy had softly poured water across her veined forehead. Annesta’s black hair is adorned with a vermillion-with-orange stripes satin bow. It is neatly parted in rolling black waves, much like the steamship, Marina, would be bound for “Porto Rico” on the following

day. She had carefully put on her silver choker, and on a second turn, affixed her prized silver and ivory pendant. It sits snugly at the plump base of her neck, anchoring the vortex of her shoulder-wide collar. Only her pair of pearl earrings outshines the white of her eyes. She sits before the navy clerk, thinking of her aunt, Helen Boynes, living in Santurce, Puerto Rico, to whom she will travel the following day. She had memorized the address, Stop 15 Monserrate Street, House # 19, pinning a copy of the document in her purse. In less than a month, Annesta would secure her own residence at 16 Stop Casse No. 4, in Santurce. Whom has Annesta left behind? Her niece, Wilhelmina Lancaster, three years older than she, residing at Kongens Gade No. 4. Wilhelmina is a laundress with equally determined eyes and a sealed mouth. Her hard-worked 5 feet 1¼ inch frame - merely 1 and ¾ inches shorter than her aunt. In the Mona Passage passing, several stowaways from “Porto Rico” would be discovered who had come onboard a berthed ship, with the “Lighter,” and hid in the ship’s boiler room. Forced aboard another ship at high seas, and amidst protest from the Venezuelanbound skipper whose captain had been lured on deck and given a three dollars fee, they had been returned to Porto Rico, bound and chained. Annesta’s good-luck steamship Marina would have returned - perhaps with a distinctive docking horn, or ship’s whistle, as it approached the Charlotte Amalie harbor – just as three blasts would later signal its departing at close of day. Would Annesta have encountered these would-be New Yorkbound stowaways? Would it, perhaps, have been on the Ponce de Leon – merely a few streets from her residence? Would they have heard the mid-day stroke of the bell tower at the stately old Catholic church in Le Palmas, now almost devoid of any memory of Las Islas Virgenes? What of midday mass, once commonplace privilege for both Annesta and Wilhelmina in St. Thomas and St. Croix? Those genuflections - both theirs and now, ours - offer timeless votives for these far-off sojourners. Edgar O. Lake

Juliana Francis, a 28 year-old left her native St. Croix to find work on St. Thomas as a House-worker. On September 5, 1918, she walks from No. 17 & 18 Berge Gade, to the US Naval Government Secretary’s office in the Administration Building, downtown Charlotte Amalie, to complete her Travel Pass application. She has not yet bought her passage on a steamer. Juliana’s parents, William Francis and Joanna Germain, were members of St. Patrick’s Church of West End. She can see the ghostly Slips on Hassel Island, mountains of coal awaiting the steamers of the various Packet Lines. Already, Juliana has seen enough calamity: The 1916 Hurricane fell on October 9th and 10th. The December, 1916, coal workers Strike, the seamen of the Valkyrien, young Marines carrying the wide baskets of coal in their backs For the first eight months of 1918, deaths from contagious diseases have been rampant and eerily competitive on St. Thomas and St. Croix: on each island, eleven deaths resulting from Dengue Fevers, six deaths from Pulmonary Tuberculosis, and five deaths from Typhoid. All residents of St. Thomas between 5 and 45 years of age have been vaccinated. The First World War was gripping the mood on the island. By June, 25,000 prisoners have been taken by the Allies. German U-boats torpedo ships on the Eastern seaboard. The local St. Thomas newspaper, The Bulletin, announced that on June 15th, the Norwegian ships, the Vindegger, and the Heroic, had been sunk by German submarines. Eighty tons of copper ingots was taken by the U-boat, 200 miles off Cape Charles, Virginia. Bombs and gunfire were used; torpedoes saved for larger troop transports. To date, 18 ships had been sunk by U-boats. American and English national anthems were sung in the Wesleyn Methodist Church. Its advertisement was a heady mixture: In June, the Lutheran Church had a 10 o’clock English-language service. That same month, the Moravian Young Men’s Literary Society offered July 2nd entertainment at their Parish Hall. Another dance had been arranged on July 3rd (beginning at 9 p.m., and ending at 3.a.m.) at the Grand Hotel for ringing in July 4th celebrations. The Lutheran Church bell-tower shook that August 10th, tolling for Thomas Gabru, a Machinist, who had left for New York City. It created a dark mood that evening for a United Laboring Associationsponsored lecture event, “Indifference – its political and Industrial effect on a Community,” by Rothschild Francis. The National Hymn was sung at the lecture’s conclusion. Two days before Juliana set out to complete her Travel Pass application, the sailing sloop, La Gracia, returned from neighboring
“Fifth year of World War. Why, I, as a Christian man, can conscientiously pray for an Allied victory.”

Tortola, filled with “Excursionists,” who had left to celebrate Labor Day. There was a Serenade, cricket match, a concert, and another evening of entertainment. Rothschild Francis’s newspaper advertisement had earlier promised “music all the time,” delivered by a choir and orchestra, with all events prepared by the E.O. Club. Yet, Juliana had not risked the excursion trip to Tortola. Instead, she had been preparing clothes for herself and Leandra, ironing and folding their best pieces. Later in the morning, Julian would hug the shade of the curving alley, to buy two tickets for Steerage Class on the Parima, a steamship due from Surinam and bound for New York City. Thoughts of her god-parents, Andrew Ditty and Alice Benny, tearfully came to mind. Juliana checked her purse for the two photographs required for the Travel Pass. The photographs show a brutal desire and fierce protection for her daughter, Maria Juliana Leandra Greaux, a five-year old, sitting on her knee. Both wear a crown of thick hair, braids form an enduring crown: Mother and child as portrait. No doubt retrieved for the occasion, a single strand of beads falls softly over Juliana’s richly embroidered dress collar, an eerilyshaped noose in once-brutal times. Her application’s declaration (“for the purpose of visiting a friend”), is belied by the formality which followed, (“Mrs. Elaine Christian”). As Juliana passes a makeshift news-stand, a torn poster catches her eye with a poignant announcement: “Lecture, Monday, September 30th, at 8:30 p.m. Under the auspices of the American Historical Research Society, in the Hall of the United Labouring Association, on Subject: The early political, social and industrial conditions of the American People.” A series of lectures promising “to open your eyes to things American.” The advertisement’s tag-line haunted her deepest desire: “Be present and then decide what can be done for our island home.” She had saved a January 30th, 1918 newspaper dispatch from New York, tucking it in the bottom of her valise: “European food experts are agreed that the entire world
will be brought to the verge or starvation if the European war continues to more,” Dr. Maurice Egan U.S. Minister to Denmark Said last night. “The northern European neutrals,” Dr. Egan declared, “are in dire straights. Food is so scarce in Denmark famous Danish wolfhounds are being slaughtered for food.” Dr. Egan, who recently returned from Copenhagen for a rest, warned the people of the U.S. against German espionage and declared that every citizen should wake to its danger. He added that “the people of Denmark now are living practical slavery and that the same is true of other European neutrals.”

Edgar O. Lake

Leper Colony, St Croix / Acts of Erasure