Barontini mines historical art references and visual systems to make new, surprising images that explore issues of representation and race. He establishes new contexts for images culled from African and European art, and in the process engages topics that critique colonialism and oppressive regimes. Tracing a personal lineage from Réunion Island to the Caribbean to Paris, Barontini is influenced by processes of creolization and hybridity and the philosophies of Caribbean thinkers, such as Édouard Glissant.
The project is conceived within the framework of the exhibition "Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom," a group exhibition utilizing historic documents in conversation with contemporary artwork. Barontini’s work complements the Douglass exhibition while remaining wholly its own experience. "The Golden March" comprises two parts: a performance in collaboration with a local high school marching band and a site-specific installation of new work for the four iconic Jewel Boxes lining the façade of the museum.
Like an opera in many acts, Barontini approached the commission as a fractional narrative and tribute to the life and work of abolitionist, author and social reformer Frederick Douglass. Each of the four Jewel Boxes is a poetic reflection on Douglass’ life history, in the form of large-scale textile installations based on visual material from the Douglass family archives of Dr. Walter O. Evans. Barontini also invokes the shapes and forms of protest banners, flags and boat sails, references to both Douglass’ legacy as a radical and revolutionary force in American history, as well as a symbol of his escape to freedom.
A performance entitled "The Golden March" will be staged during the reception of the exhibition, with a marching band revealing each Jewel Box while carrying banners and flags created by the artist in a public parade.