Studio Conversations with Annalee Davis, Mariam Zulfiqar and Christina Millare

Fresh Milk is pleased to share the archive of a conversation which took place on August 15th 2013 between UK based Christina Millare, visiting curator, Mariam Zulfiqar and Founding Director of Fresh Milk, Annalee Davis.

Studio Conversations caught up with curator and Curating Contemporary Art Inspire graduate, Mariam Zulfiqar to discuss her research residency in Barbados, which will culminate into a forthcoming exhibition that explores the impact of plant migration on the Barbadian visual and social landscape.

They also spoke with Visual Artist, Annalee Davis, the founder of The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., an artist led initiative that contributes to the discourse surrounding creative production within the informal networks of the Caribbean and its diaspora by offering a platform for exchanges among contemporary practitioners.

Curator, Christina Millare, a graduate of the Curating Contemporary Art Inspire MA (2010/2012) has programmed Studio Conversations and chaired the event.

Studio Conversations is a series of live video linked studio visits with artists and curators. These events aim to give audiences an opportunity to engage in a dialogue with internationally based artists and curators to explore how their practice might be translated within transglobal contexts.

 About Mariam Zulfiqar:

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Mariam Zulfiqar graduated from the Curating Contemporary Art Inspire MA in 2012 during which time she was based at Art on the Underground where she continues to work in a curatorial capacity. Mariam recently curated the online Kurt Schwitters inspired project, MerzBank with Steven Bode for Film and Video Umbrella and is currently on a research residency in Barbados. Her research will culminate into a forthcoming exhibition that explores the impact of plant migration on the Barbadian visual and social landscape.

About Annalee Davis:

Founder of Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc.

Founder of Fresh Milk Art Platform

Annalee Davis is a Visual Artist.  She has been making and showing her work regionally and internationally since returning to the Caribbean in 1989.  She is the founder of The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., an artist led initiative for exchanges among contemporary creatives supporting interactions across disciplines and contributing to an increasingly rich discourse surrounding creative production within the informal networks of the Caribbean and its diaspora. She is a part-time tutor in the BFA programme at the Barbados Community College.  For more on her practice, visit her website.

About Christina Millare

Christina Millare

Christina Millare is a curator based in London, UK. She is interested in considering alternative venues as locations for unique presentations of artists’ moving image, performance, sound and digital work. Christina’s projects have a strong collaborative approach with host venues, enabling her to draw upon pre-existing audiences as well as offer alternative experiences of a familiar location. In 2013 she was awarded Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England funding to explore this notion further and worked with established artists including, Janek Schaefer, The Bohman Brothers and Fabienne Audeoud.

Currently, Christina is developing; ‘The Cross Continent Vloging Project’, an ambitious international exhibition and live public programme featuring live art, sound, performance and moving image exploring the trans-global and migratory behaviour of online video blogging.

A graduate of the Royal College of Art’s MA in Curating Contemporary Art, Christina previously held curatorial and programme coordinator positions at Abandon Normal Devices Festival and Cornerhouse, where she produced the group exhibition ‘New Cartographies: Algeria – France – UK’ (featuring Kader Attia and Zineb Sedira) and produced various aspects of both organisations’ public programming.

Link to two of Christina Millare’s projects can be found below:

“Machines by Other Means” – http://vimeo.com/51430133
“Pleasure Box” – http://vimeo.com/80374088

Mapping the Commonwealth with “Glasgow’s Finest”

Alberta Whittle shares her thoughts on the recent International Artist Initiated (IAI) project in Glasgow, presented by the David Dale Gallery & Studios as part of The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme which took place alongside this year’s Commonwealth Games. Read more below:

Photograph by Rayanne Bushell

Representatives of Clark House Initiative, RM, Video Network Lagos, Fresh Milk; Alberta Whittle and Rayanne Bushell

 “In 1884 the Earl of Rosebery visits Australia and asks, ”Does the fact of your being a nation… imply separation from the Empire? God forbid! There is no need for any new nation, however great, leaving the Empire, because the Empire is a Commonwealth of Nations“.”[1]

In the summer of 2014, the Commonwealth Games arrived in Glasgow. Much like any travelling circus, the Games brought believers, performers, participants and an audience. Like any participant, I came to Glasgow with my own expectations. Having lived in the city for many years, but failing to assimilate completely, I still feigned the confidence that comes so easily for those who know the area. Sharing a taxi ride, with the self-proclaimed “Glasgow’s Finest”, the driver quizzed me on my knowledge of the city’s geography, asking me where roads connected, easily highlighting my failure to truly belong to Glasgow. The driver insisted on informing me that Glasgow’s taxi drivers were always known as “Glasgow’s Finest”, and I was not allowed to forget it.

During this trip, over many conversations with “Glasgow’s Finest”, a discourse of belonging and not belonging readily emerged. The drivers often assumed Barbadian artist, Annalee Davis and I were Americans, our accents blurring into a vague sense of foreign-ness. They asked why we were here, and when we explained about our project as part of the Commonwealth Games, they in turn spoke of how the Games were not for Glaswegians. The Games’ faux presentation of multiculturalism and the promotion of the idea that we are all in this together confronts the reality that, for many Glaswegians, there is a disconnect between their participation on home soil and the participation of the athletes and visitors flown in to contribute to the spectacle of imagined unity. The notion of unity between us, members of a former British colony, and Glaswegians, a nation grappling with securing their own independence, came from an unlikely direction. Driving through the Merchant City we passed roads such as St. Vincent Street and Jamaica Street; easy reminders of Glasgow’s active role within the slave trade as members of the plantocracy and as indentured servants. However, “Glasgow’s Finest” posited the belief that Caribbean and Scottish nations must be united against the English, advocating the belief that Scots also faced “oppression” from England. This supposition did not entirely surprise me, given the political climate surrounding the upcoming Scottish Referendum.

From the banners, traffic diversions and the odd, green mascot called Clyde dotted across the city, the aura of the Commonwealth seeped into Glasgow’s public spaces. As part of the celebrations, the David Dale Gallery in Glasgow’s East End invited artist-run spaces from across the Commonwealth:  Fillip (Canada),  RM (New Zealand), Cyprus Dossier (Cyprus), Fresh Milk (Barbados), Video Art Network Lagos (Nigeria) and Clark House Initiative (India) to participate in their International Artist Initiated programme.

As part of the Fresh Milk platform, Mark King, Ronald Williams and myself presented a series of interventions. Responding to the commercial nature of the area, we crafted three individual presentations. The location of the David Dale Gallery within the heart of the East End of Glasgow – once a thriving industrial boomtown – seems peculiarly apt, mirroring the substantial role of production Britain’s former colonies assumed, laying the foundation for the industrial revolution. These same former colonies are now re-positioned as independent nations, members of the Commonwealth, exhibiting artwork in their own image. The recent deterioration of Glasgow’s prominence in manufacturing, where production is now outsourced to these former colonies, lends symmetry to the proceedings.

 “Internet ultimately offers both the seductions and subductions of a postmodern “world.”’ [2]

Taking possession of the pavement immediately outside of the gallery space, Mark King’s piece ‘Wayfinding’ speaks simultaneously of globalization and the shrinking of the globe through advancing technological developments. The importance of producing a site-specific artwork responding to Glasgow’s architecture fuelled King’s research. Since King was unable to physically enter Glasgow’s public space, the development of his work leant heavily on the Internet as a research tool. The simulated reality, which the Internet manufactures, enabled King to virtually explore the Glasgow urban landscape. Appropriating visual iconography he discovered using interactive maps from the Internet such as Google Maps, he decided on a grid formation. Mirroring the structure of the grid, yellow pigmented chalk spray paint was stenciled onto the ground in a diamond pattern. The diamonds can be seen to both reflect the wealth Scotland built on the backs of the colonies in the Commonwealth, whilst the grid formation suggests a means of concealing and revealing. King’s grid imprinted on a Glasgow pavement speaks to the mapping of private and public space, the gatekeeping of information, and the access to this knowledge. In this way, his grid also becomes a net, implicating the public in his piece, where by traversing through his grid they extend it outwards through the chalk debris on the bottom of their shoes. The ephemeral nature of the chalk spray paint insists that the physicality of this piece will ultimately disperse through wind and rain, gradually leaving a faint residue in its place.

King’s choice of intense yellow pigment runs parallel to the street signage found on most roads. By bringing this same signature colour of hazards and caution onto the pavement, King raises questions of right of access. Who has the right to inhabit public spaces?

“Infinite spaces … have become advertising spaces.”[3]

Ronald Williams‘ billboard project responds to the important role the media assumes in stereotyping black bodies. Williams’ seductive, computer generated collages respond to advertising campaigns, which use notable athletes such as Jesse Owens, Usain Bolt and Serena Williams to tout their wares. His billboards question the exploitative nature of these campaigns, which generate immense wealth, yet continue to marginalize the same audience they are aimed at.

These advertising campaigns typically present black athletes as glorified flesh. Almost animalistic in their depiction, their muscles ripple, flexed, ready to leap, strike the ball or pummel the face of an adversary. Only deemed relevant because of their sheer physicality, these bodies are rendered as commodities, easily consumable, packaged and identified as abnormal. Their role as anomalies, who escaped poverty by signing lucrative contracts for endorsements and achieved stardom through their physical prowess, is apparent through their appropriation into the dehumanizing role of silent motif by global brands. Branding these athletes as celebrities inspires intense devotion by their fans, who are encouraged to buy into the mirage of aspiration that brands such as Nike, Adidas and Lacoste distill. Williams’ deliberate absence of flesh in his collages addresses the reliance on black flesh these feats of branding depend on. Employing the characteristic poses of these athletes to fashion a silhouette which then acts as a canvas, Williams manipulates forms taken from popular culture to offer a critique into the industry, which both celebrates and caricatures these icons. His decision to fill in his silhouettes of Bolt and the like with imagery from an array of sources, including contemporary dancehall and hip hop culture, pimp attire, shackles, money, animals and symbols of black resistance; reveals the underlying stereotyping at play in these acts of branding.

Williams’ billboards question the typical position of authority held by these advertising campaigns. His work raises important questions around authorship and the responsibility of the advertisers in not perpetuating stereotypes.

For my own presentation, I produced a series of digital collages, derived from Barbadian “fete”[4] my work attempts to interrogate the prescribed gender roles prevalent in the Caribbean. Following the format of the original fete posters, these collages apply the same aesthetic, adopting similar poses, modes of dress, iconography and typography. Historically denied subjectivity, the Other is able to reclaim this, reclaiming public space through their participation in preparing and distributing their own images presenting their individual ideals and aspirations. These collages were printed as posters and hung from railings in the area surrounding David Dale. The familiarity with this technique of displaying posters advertising club nights renders posters. Inserting myself as both the female and male protagonist, them almost invisible in this urban space. They seem to assimilate within this easily recognizable visual language. What is jarring is their presence within a Scottish context.

Fresh Milk’s discursive project entitled “Notions of Common/wealth versus Single/ wealth” ensured that the elephant in the room was named. What were critical, contemporary artists and artist-run initiatives doing participating in a platform which historically had systematically disavowed their authority and authenticity as cultural entities? The event moderated by Mario Caro, President of Res Artis, and held at David Dale after the exhibition opened was broadcast live and archived on the This Is Tomorrow website.

Glasgow-based artist Ellie Harrison raised the important question around the contradiction of participating in a Commonwealth sponsored event given the history of the Empire, which reveled in exhibitions of live bodies and relied heavily on gross representations of former colonies now repositioned as Commonwealth nations. In response to this critique, members of the panel claimed the importance of the International Artist Initiated programme as a mutually beneficial means of enabling cross-cultural links to be bridged and conversations to flow while not being dictated by the Commonwealth.

Fresh Milk’s project provided a valuable platform for the audience to engage with representatives from the invited artist-run spaces, open a dialogue into the varied approaches to programming led by the initiatives, and tackle the meaning of what participating in the Commonwealth means. Topics addressed by the panel ranged from the importance of building substantial platforms supporting and nurturing local and regional artist communities; how to expand the conversations across borders; the challenges of making work in the Global South without the acknowledgement of the West; hierarchy of value surrounding art-making outside of the West; questions around the existence of cultural purity and authenticity; and fetishization of culture, leading to commodification. This event reflected the passion and commitment to work locally, which the different artist-run entities have in abundance. Important work is being done and the gaze of the West is shifting.

After the “Notions of Common/wealth versus Single/wealth” event, “Glasgow’s Finest” picked us up from David Dale, which is located on Broad Street in an area called Bridgton. As Barbadians, these names immediately resonated with us; Barbados’ capital city is Bridgetown and the main shopping street is Broad Street. We reflected on the historical practice of naming areas in colonies after familiar places in the “Mother country”, where any cultural autonomy is negated through the disavowal of indigenous knowledge and naming. It is striking that through conversations with Scots about the Commonwealth Games, it is assumed that the Games are not for them, that there is a disconnect, yet the Commonwealth is  actually as old Scots term, “Commonweal”, meaning “wealth shared in common for the wellbeing of all”[5]

These four interventions from the Fresh Milk platform will probably not last long, some weeks and maybe only days. Their transitory nature encourages an exchange of some kind, where King’s chalk mapping may end up “sticking to their shoes and hitching a ride”[6] . The fete posters will probably end up damaged by the elements, rain causing the ink to run and the paper to tear. Besides the possibility of them being ripped down and replaced, they may simply disappear and become invisible as people become accustomed to seeing them, fading into the landscape. It will be curious to see what happens to Williams’ billboards. Will they be defaced, torn or remain pristine?

Participating in this event, whilst opening the floor for conversations and questions to be asked, is an important activation, especially against the backdrop of the Commonwealth Games, where the notion of belonging still needs to be unravelled. The most recent summary of ethnic group demographics sites the percentage of ethnic minorities in Scotland to be 4%[7], but given the growing population of  immigrants in the city, perhaps before long “Glasgow’s Finest” really will be representative of the Commonwealth.

 Sources:

1. http://www.andywightman.com/?p=3852
2. Nunes, Mark. “Baudrillard in Cyberspace: Internet, Virtuality, and Postmodernity.” Style 29 (1995): 314-327.HTML
3. Jean Baudrillard, Cool Memories, Verso Books, 1990
4. “Fetes” are parties held at a variety of locations in Barbados, from private homes, bars, nightclubs, to parks and beaches. They are rarely ticketed, usually inexpensive and often free. They can be hosted by anyone, who can secure the venue, organise the DJs and provide a bar to ensure the party is “HYPE”. “HYPE” is a colloquial phrase, meaning cool, fun or popular.
5. http://www.andywightman.com/?p=3852
6. http://markkingismarkings.com/
7. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/Equality/Equalities/DataGrid/  Ethnicity/EthPopMig

Alberta Whittle

About Alberta:

Alberta Whittle is a Barbadian artist, currently based between South Africa, Glasgow and Barbados. She has undertaken residencies at CESTA (Czech Republic), Market Gallery (Scotland), Collective Gallery (Scotland), Fresh Milk (Barbados), Greatmore Studio and The Bag Factory in South Africa.

She choreographs interactive installations, interventions and performances as site-specific artworks in public and private spaces, including at the Royal Scottish Academy (Scotland) and has exhibited in various solo and group shows in Europe, the Caribbean and South Africa, including at the CAS Gallery, University of Cape Town in March 2013 and in ‘WHERE WE’RE AT! Curated by Christine Eyene in Brussels in June 2014. Her practice is concerned with the construction of stereotypes of race, nationality and gender, considering the motivation behind the perpetuation and the different forms in which they are manifested.

The Art Of Loving Google #CCF

Recently, some friends and I kept joking about how the answer to everything can be found by Google. Typing: ‘How to code a website’, ‘How to make alfredo sauce’, ‘I fell and now my tail bone hurts’ and, with this review in mind, I Googled ‘how to love’.  A 30 step guide—with pictures—was one of the first solutions the search engine provided. Resisting the urge to roll my eyes too much, I browsed the guide. Step by step, I increasingly noticed similarities between this ‘how to love’ and The Art of Loving.

The Art of Loving is a small book about love written by Erich Fromm in the 1950s. A social philosopher and psychoanalyst, he discusses types and effects of love and goes so far as to identify ‘real love’ and even how to put it into action.

The above excerpt is from Versia Harris’ review of Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving, this week’s addition to the Fresh Milk Books Tumblr - the online space inviting interaction with our collection in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room.

For new Critical. Creative. Fresh reviews every week, look out for our #CCF Weekly posts and see the great material we have available at Fresh Milk!

Katherine Kennedy begins her Fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude

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Earlier this year, Assistant to Director at The Fresh Milk Art Platform, Katherine Kennedy, was selected to travel to Stuttgart, Germany as part of the ResSupport Fellowship programme offered by ResArtis. We are excited to announce that Katherine has just begun her fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude, which runs for three months from September 1 – December 1, 2014.

Katherine began her relationship with Fresh Milk as one of the first resident artists on the platform. Since working here, Katherine has represented the organisation at the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB) in Curaçao, received a scholarship for the Vermont Studio Center, and taken part in a collaborative project with Casa Tomada in Brazil. While Katherine is having this amazing new experience abroad, Barbadian artist and member of our Fresh Milk Books Team, Versia Harris, will be interning here at Fresh Milk as Assistant to Director in training. Versia graduated from the Barbados Community College with a BFA in the Studio Art programme in 2012, with an award from The Leslie’s Legacy Foundation. She has since participated in four residencies, regionally and internationally. In 2014, she was one of 83 artists selected to show in the IV Moscow International Young Art Biennial.

This internship exemplifies Fresh Milk’s commitment to investing in the development of emerging artists, demonstrating the importance of knowledge transfer and equipping them with the necessary skills to confidently enter professional environments while encouraging them to maintain artistic production.

During Katherine’s time in Germany, she will be introduced to the different working areas of Akademie Schloss Solitude and gain insight into how this prestigious residency programme is run, as well as fostering relationships with the resident artists and sharing information about Fresh Milk and the Caribbean contemporary art scene. In the spirit of this exchange, we would also like to share that Akademie Schloss Solitude is currently inviting applications from artists worldwide for their next residency cycle. See more below:

Image courtesy Akademie Schloss Solitude.

Image courtesy Akademie Schloss Solitude.

Call for Applications:

For the fifteenth time, Akademie Schloss Solitude is granting approx. 70 residency fellowships of three to twelve months in duration. More than 1.200 artists from more than 100 countries have developed and advanced projects at the Akademie since its opening in 1990, creating a close-knit, global network of Solitude alumni that expands from year to year. The Akademie pursues an intense exchange between artistic and scientific disciplines. With the art, science & business program the transfer of knowledge and experience between these fields can be deepened to create new synergies of creativity, inventiveness and management.

International artists are invited to apply from the following disciplines: Architecture (design, landscape architecture, urban planning), Visual Arts (including performance art), Performing Arts (stage design, dramatic texts, dramaturgy, musical theater, performance, direction, drama, dance), Design (fashion, costume, product and furniture design, visual communication), Literature (essay, criticism, poetry, prose, translation), Music/Sound (interpretation, sound installation, sound performance, composition) andVideo/Film/New Media (including video installation, fiction and documentary).

Furthermore, scholars, scientists and professionals from the disciplines of the Humanities, Social Sciences (with a focus on culture and the politics of space), Economy/Economics (with a focus on urban policy), and Culture & Law (with a focus on authorship) are invited to apply.

Persons up to 35 or if older who have completed a university or college degree within the past five years are welcome to apply. Currently enrolled university or college students (at the time of application) will not be considered for selection. Each fellowship recipient is granted Euro 1,100 per month, in addition to free lodging.

For additional information on the residency programme, application process and selection jury members, see the Akademie Schloss Solitude website here, or visit our Opportunities page.

Application deadline is Friday, October 31, 2014 (Postmark/End of Online Application).

​As of July 1, applicants will find all information, be able to register and download the application form or apply online on the Application website.

Sovereignty of the Imagination: Conversations III #CCF

Sovereignty of the Imagination

George Lamming’s Sovereignty of the Imagination: Conversations III is an interesting dialogue. It explores how European imperialism and colonialism has influenced the cultural identity of the Caribbean. Separated into the essaysSovereignty of the Imagination and Language and the Politics of Ethnicity, the novel addresses the way social institutions are founded in imperialism, and the way this shapes the social constructs of race, class, nationalism and popular ideas about language. It is this latter essay, and in particular Lamming’s discussion on the race relations between the Afro and Indo-Caribbean populations, which resonates with me the most.

The above excerpt is from Ronald Williams review of George Lamming’s Sovereignty of the Imagination: Conversations III, this week’s addition to the Fresh Milk Books Tumblr - the online space inviting interaction with our collection in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room.

For new Critical. Creative. Fresh reviews every week, look out for our #CCF Weekly posts and see the great material we have available at Fresh Milk!

Announcing the release of Talamak: Dessa Darling’s Memoir

Frist draft cover page

We are very pleased to announce the launch of Talamak: Dessa Darling’s Memoir, the e-publication written and directed by Fresh Milk Books Team Leader Amanda Domalene Haynes. The story offers a glimpse at the underbelly of many mood disorders, mental illnesses and mysterious health issues: emotional/psychological trauma.

Talamak: Dessa Darling’s Memoir features illustrations by Fresh Milk Books Member Versia Abeda Harris and book design by Kimberley St. Hill. The book is divided into four narratives: Purple Flower, Talamak, Sunsets with Gran-gran and Blood Sisters. Here’s the back cover description:

“DESSA DARLING is a young woman from Barbados, the Caribbean. When a painful memory wakes her from a stoned slumber, she must confront emotions she has been repressing for a very long time.  A mix of words and images, Dessa Darling’s Memoir shares her journey through these surreal and subtly hopeful reflections.”

Read/Download the book here.

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About Amanda:

Amanda Domalene Haynes is the Project Leader of Fresh Milk Books at the Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. An editor and emerging YA publisher, her postgraduate research interests include media literacy, popular culture and publishing in relation to the socioeconomic development of the Caribbean region. She currently manages the recently launched blog The Odyssey of Carib Lit, which will document her research about contemporary Caribbean book publishing and its sociological implications. Amanda graduated from the University of the West Indies with a BA Literatures in English (First Class Hons.) in 2013.

FRESH MILK XVI Review

Fresh Milk Books‘ Team Leader Amanda Haynes reviews our last public event FRESH MILK XVI. Read more below:

Photograph by Dondre Trotman

Photograph by Dondre Trotman

On Thursday June 26th, the Fresh Milk Art Platform hosted FRESH MILK XVI, the Barbados Launch of See Me Here: A Survey of Self Portraits from the Caribbean, edited by Melanie Archer and Mariel Brown of Robert and Christopher Publishers. Organised into a moderated panel discussion and an open Q & A, it was one of those rare times the second segment outran the first.

The event opened with a succinct presentation by visual artist Ronald Williams and my brief chat about Fresh Milk Books, before launching into the feature of the night: a conversation with See Me Here editor Melanie Archer and contributing Barbadian artists Ewan Atkinson, Annalee Davis, Joscelyn Gardner and Sheena Rose.

Skilfully moderated by Barbadian artist Russell Watson, dialogue revolved around the motivation and content of each artist’s unique self-portraiture, as well as the editors’ decision to compile an anthology with self-portraiture as its point of departure.

Annalee, Joscelyn, Ewan and Sheena’s responses were nuanced, embodying their personal expression of self and a distinct awareness of social identity as a political circumstance. In each case, their creative process reveals an understanding of this tension. For example, Joscelyn’s reflection on her work highlighted its ‘naïve’ perspective as she grappled to comprehend the complex racial and social climate of the Caribbean and being ‘white creole’. Similarly, Annalee shared her experience as being a white creole artist from Barbados, and the way in which Fresh Milk can be read as a self-portrait of this journey.

The more unapologetic, ‘socially vague’ visual art of Ewan and Sheena provoked especially provocative questions. As the discussion was opened to the audience, the question of self-portraiture as a zeitgeist of current Caribbean contemporary artists whirled into thoughtful questions and critically introspective answers. Major concerns expressed included the implications of this preoccupation with ‘self’ in today’s art practice, including the lack of a collective social agenda of current contemporary Caribbean art when compared to the socially oriented work of previous generations. Is this phenomenon indicative of an abandoning of ‘the national project’, or is it reflective of contemporary deconstructions of place as the root of one’s identity? How does this trend fit into the phenomenon of self-portraiture in general art history; is there a common social climate of these times?

In the context of contemporary mediated social media, the question of the performativity of art practice also raised poignant questions about the commodification of art, the role of the marketplace in the creative process, and criteria of authenticity: Who is the audience of this performance? How does this influence how, where and what we create? More importantly, what is the point of what we do? Should there be a point, anyway?

The mic was passed from artists, curators, scholars, students, men, women, the young, the older and the old. In a safe space for our perspectives to clash, clang and mingle, the night confirmed how much place does matter. In particular, the exchanges implied the radical potential of contemporary Caribbean art; more than ever before in the history of our region, we have the opportunity to create, control, consume and distribute perceptions of our visual and cultural identities. See Me Here signifies this moment—what comes next, we are not entirely sure.

Just after 9:30, Russell brought the lively conversation to a coherent close. Most of us stayed to mingle, purchase See Me Here, view the intimate exhibition and browse the CLRR. You wouldn’t guess that three hours before, FRESH MILK XVI was weary of the rain. Thankfully, Annalee and Katherine’s decision to host the night’s proceedings in the open space of the porch and lawn was magical. The atmosphere was relaxed and open, and the rain decided not to drench the projector or those of us sitting under the stars.

All photographs by Dondre Trotman 

Pink Collars – #CCF

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Carla Freeman’s High Tech and High Heels in the Global Economy (2000) is described as an “ethnography of globalisation positioned at the intersection between political economy and cultural studies”.  Don’t be scared off by this heavy description—chapter one opens in the Barbados Harbour Industrial Park, where ‘minivans with open doors are parked tightly’ and women are ‘proudly dressed in suits and fashions that identify them as “office” workers’.  With the symbolism of high tech and high heels firmly in place, Freeman’s text introduces the jargon.

The above excerpt is from Amanda Domalene Haynes’ review of Carla Freeman’s High Tech and High Heels in the Global Economy: Women, Work and Pink Collar Identities in the Caribbeanthis week’s addition to the Fresh Milk Books Tumblr - the online space inviting interaction with our collection in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room.

For new Critical. Creative. Fresh reviews every week, look out for our #CCF Weekly posts and see the great material we have available at Fresh Milk!

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International Artist Initiated

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Fresh Milk was very excited to travel to Glasgow this July to participate in the International Artist Initiated (IAI) project, presented by the David Dale Gallery & Studios as part of The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme which took place alongside this year’s Commonwealth Games. See below for more information and images from the project.

All photos taken by Rayanne Bushell.

About IAI:

International Artist Initiated is a programme of exhibitions and events devised by David Dale Gallery to coincide with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Developed over the past year, the project acted as a catalyst for discussion and collaboration between artist initiated projects internationally. The structure of the project was designed to be malleable and open source, in that it can be taken and applied elsewhere with different organisations.

Working with artist initiated, or focussed, organisations from across the six Commonwealth territories, the programme consisted of a series of exhibitions and events by the invited organisations that responded to either the context of the Commonwealth Games within Glasgow, or was representative of contemporary culture within their nation through the lens of an artist-led organisation.

The contributors to the programme were:

Fresh Milk, Barbados
Fillip, Canada
Cyprus Dossier, Cyprus
Clark House Initiative, India
RM, New Zealand
Video Art Network Lagos, Nigeria

Take a look at some picture from the opening night of IAI here:

Fresh Milk’s contribution to IAI was in two parts. The first saw the installation of works by three emerging artists on billboards, on railings and on the surface of the sidewalk. The artists include a recent graduate from the Barbados Community College, Ronald Williams, whose crisp digital montages critique the stereotype of the black athlete and were installed on an extended billboard, while Mark King’s temporal, geometric, site specific work was installed on a pavement. Alberta Whittle’s fête (party) posters show the artist masquerading as both man and woman in her critique of gender stereotypes through her engagement with the local fête posters often seen posted throughout Bridgetown, Barbados’ capital city. The posters were reproduced and displayed throughout the streets of Glasgow.

Ronald Williams

Ronald Williams’ Artist Statements:

My collages investigate the role that sports and the black athlete play in society. I manipulate popular based imagery to compose computer-generated images that explore sports, perceptions, stereotypes and fantasies about the black athlete or figure, conceptually becoming deliberately self-contradictory as the stereotype is simultaneously celebrated and criticized. The work is designed as a large-scale poster to be installed on a billboard as an adhesive decal similar to how the image of the modern sportsman is represented. The titles of the three images being exhibited are Swagga, The Phenomenon and Wild Thing.

Swagga

Sprinter Usain Bolt provides the inspiration for Swagga, a piece meant to capture the frivolous and boastful nature of celebration. The boa, hat, glasses and shoes combine to promote this ‘showy’ spectacle but are also linked to the Jamaican bling culture. While the animal skins on the legs hint at the relationship to fashion, it also indicates an inherent animalistic/ physically superior nature. The shirt, deliberately muted and understated, bears a statement from Marcus Garvey about knowledge of oneself and identity. As the African mask is obscured by the bright glasses and hat, the true significance of important sporting events—such as those of the Olympic Games which were of supreme importance in ancient Greece to a sporting hero as well as his city—is often lost amongst the glamorous festivity which accompanies it.

The Phenomenon

Jessie Owens’ performances at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games were the catalyst for this piece. Owens defied Hitler’s claims about Aryan supremacy and the attitudes towards blacks in his own country by winning four gold medals. In America, the infirm and mortality rates of black children were high due to their lack of proper health care and social structure, but the common notion was that the blacks were just diseased and weaker in general. With Owens’ victory the narrative soon changed, and the now widely accepted stereotype of blacks being more athletically and physically gifted emerged. The idea of blacks being super or sub-human alternated between those two points and Owens was subjected to various tests to find what the secret was. To reflect this change, the head of the character and its arms indicate a non human entity with the study of eugenics paramount to the discussion. To highlight the use of the ‘sub-human’ black body for scientific and medical use, the Tuskegee experiments are included. Attached to the leg of the sprinter is the anti-slavery coin ‘Am I Not A Man And A Brother’ which serves as an anchor ball and chain. It symbolises the apparently never ending struggle for the black person to bee seen as equal, not super nor sub-human.

Wild Thing

Serena Williams’ bold fashion choices and trailblazing attitude helped inspire Wild Thing. Her 2002 attire, dubbed ‘the catsuit’, was such a huge talking point that it overshadowed the tennis being played. Comments about her ample curves, bulging muscles and inhuman speed and agility placed her in a highly sexualized yet animalsitic category. The character wears an exaggerated version of a catsuit, referencing the stereotypical association between African women and felines, while images of the Hottentot Venus place the fascination with her body to the fore. The black power racket and raised middle finger is a testament to her uncompromising and at times aggressive attitude, which is occasionally adverse to the demure nature of the sport.

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Mark King

Mark King’s Artist Statement:

My contribution to the Glasgow 2014 Culture Programme is a site-specific work made possible by the access provided by technology. Through virtual and interactive maps I embarked upon an exercise in way-finding from a computer thousands of miles away in Barbados. Through mechanisms such as Google Maps I selected forms present in the architecture and manipulated them to create artworks that draw upon the location where my work will be presented.

I have chosen chalk as my medium due to its ephemeral qualities. The resulting artwork is temporary much like the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. My hope is that spectators from across the globe will come into direct contact with the piece with chalk from the artwork sticking to their shoes and hitching a ride to the neighboring sports venues. The combination of the elements and foot traffic will slowly eat away at the pigment and ultimately return the site to a state prior to my temporary intervention.

It is unknown whether the work will last for an hour, a day or the duration of the Commonwealth Games.

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Alberta Whittle

Alberta Whittle’s Artist Statement

I am interested in the conflict between historical images of the Other and the African Diaspora’s notions of the Self. The spectacle of racial differences relies on a language of bleak oppositions to confirm stereotypes. In Black Skin / White Masks, Frantz Fanon, observed that in colonial discourse “native” peoples are not positioned within the psychoanalytic structure of the Self and Other, but are relegated to the universe of objects, where they remain beyond the limits of cultural intelligibility.Focusing on the concept of subjective portraiture, both as art historical genre and public identity, my research has prompted me to interrogate the potential of Barbadian fete posters as a means of regaining subjectivity.

Whilst undertaking a residency at Fresh Milk in 2012, I began a series of digital collages, exploring the production and distribution of fete posters in Barbados. Fete posters are a platform for social commentary, highlighting the acute disparity between gender roles in Barbados, where these representations appear frozen. The posters advertising these “fetes” set the tone and introduce the hosts / hostesses.  Each poster must present a selection of portraits of the hosts / hostesses, who enact a series of set poses, often sexually provocative or stereotypically hypermasculine. There are exceptions to this trope, where we are presented with more family-oriented fetes or fetes, which present a more Afro-centric or Rastafarian ideology. However, despite attempts to present themselves as rigidly heterosexual, there are elements of homoeroticism, identified through pose, adornment and dress. Designed to reflect certain ideals, these posters have evolved to reflect a specific format, which typically utilises certain poses, typography, set design and phrases, presenting a fantastical landscape punctuated with exotic animals, signifiers of wealth, including mansions, enormous bundles of cash money, expensive liquor, cars and motorbikes. They are papered on walls throughout the urban and pastoral landscape and also use Facebook as a stage. Drawing from Dancehall and Hip Hop culture, they have become sites to define identity and project capitalist ideals.

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Fresh Milk’s second contribution was a discursive project called “Notions of common/wealth versus single/wealth”. This dialogical component provided a platform for representatives of the seven specially invited networks to participate in conversations with each other and the Glaswegian audience. The aim of the conversations was, in part, to unpack ideas related to the Commonwealth of Nations – the association under which countries gather every four years to celebrate sport in Glasgow in the summer of 2014. The intention was to explore the context of the IAI, as a gathering of Commonwealth Nations, and delve into how that relates to the work we all do as artist led initiatives. The concern was to investigate the Commonwealth as a macro, historical entity and understand our relationship to it, if any, and all that entails. Interrelated are ideas about the definition of wealth and value, both single and common, in our local contexts.

View the panel discussion archived online here.

Márquez’s Bolivar – #CCF

kwame ccf

The front cover of The General in His Labyrinth is a blueprint. Its red tiled corridor could be a path in the labyrinthine mental and physical journey of the novel’s main character—the 19th century figure who is known as ‘The Liberator’ of Latin America from Spanish colonialism—General Simon Bolivar.

This path runs through a series of arches that are decorated with tropical trees; two naked women sit in the curves of each arch. Multiple Bolivars in full military regalia can be seen pacing with their hands clasped behind their backs from one side of an arch to another, probably reflecting on his past accomplishments and failures. The Bolivar at the farthest end—at the vanishing point—seems to be attempting to walk backwards, towards the reader/viewer, as if considering a return to his former glory. I say ‘attempting’, because the shrinking of the protagonist seems to reflect Bolivar’s inevitable death. His return happens only through  his labyrinthine recollections of past victories and failures, of great friendships and betrayals, and his thirty-five passionate love affairs.

The above excerpt is from newest member of the FMB Team Kwame Slusher’s review of Gabriel García Márquez’s The General in His Labyrinththis week’s addition to the Fresh Milk Books Tumblr - the online space inviting interaction with our collection in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room.

For new Critical. Creative. Fresh reviews every week, look out for our #CCF Weekly posts and see the good reads we have available at Fresh Milk!