Signs of the T&T Times

The fascination that Trinidadians and Tobagonians have with the word, the written word and its multiple usages, is fully evident in the calypso folk idiom and in the early humorous work of Trinidadian novelist V.S. Naipaul. These writings, drawings on the walls of T&T, so powerfully and graphically documented by photographer Pablo Delano, not only stand as further testimony to this infatuation but also underline the cosmology that has been created here. These pictures constitute something of a public script for a world view that braves past denunciations of ignorance, naiveté and so much else. They leave behind, and dissolve unconsciously, sometimes with zany humour, aspects of a history of blame and shame. The images bring to the fore a different kind of commerce to the one that brought these people to the islands as they dare to describe the hybridity of life, or of living, itself. Christian, Hindu or even Islamic enterprises are displayed by way of promotions, to the public eye, of different commodities and services, especially exquisite cuisine, in the grainy texture of survival and inevitable technological change. The weather beaten signs manifest the perpetuating life force on these tiny but vibrant islands. The writing is on the wall.

Tony Hall