Breath & Breeze: Tongueless whispers of the wind 

Social Practices

Project details

  • Skye Maule-O’Brien
  • Project Leader
  • Skye Maule-O’Brien
  • Funding Program


    DurationSept 2023 – Aug 2025 
    Affiliated activities

    Breath & Breeze: Tongueless whispers of the wind* is a research-creation project that looks at the wind, wind technology, and the Dutch colonial footprint in Barbados and other Caribbean islands that are still connected to the Netherlands.

    The  Dutch played an extensive role in shaping colonial rule, slavery, trade, labour, and the plantation economies through the use of wind technology. For example, at one time Barbados had more than 500 windmills, more than any other country besides the Netherlands. The skeletal remains of these windmills are part of the visual landscape of the island, reminding us of something that is supposed to be long over and done with, but which lingers unresolved.   

    The research investigates what it means to trace the politicization of wind figuratively, creatively, and deliberately. The purpose is to explore reparative justice and how past colonial structures and the systems of power that built them continue to haunt the present. The research uses visual autoethnography / autotheory methods, on-site field research, semi-structured interviews, and will offer interactive teaching and making public moments // a publication.   

    The project is a collaboration between Skye Maule-O’Brien and Amsterdam-based artist, Mirjam Linschooten. Skye is undertaking this project as a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Social Practices.   

    Early meditations on the wind (video):  

    *The title for the project comes from Guyanese poet Martin Carter’s poem called Listening to the Land, where he speaks of hearing difficult (or haunting) histories held in the soils of the Caribbean.