Open Call: Fresh Milk International Residency 2015 or 2016

FM International Residency Poster_Aug 2015

FRESH MILK is seeking proposals from artists working outside of Barbados to apply for our international residency programme in late 2015 or Spring 2016. Available dates for the residencies to take place are between November 2 – 30, 2015 and February 29 – March 25, 2016.

This residency aims to support visual artists, writers and curators by offering a peaceful working space for a minimum of 4 weeks for creative production, the opportunity to interface with contemporary practitioners living and working in Barbados, access to the on-site Colleen Lewis Reading Room, the chance to broaden understanding of the work being produced locally and regionally in the Caribbean, and to strengthen international networks and relationships. For more information on the residency, application process and associated costs, please visit our International Residency Opportunity page.

The deadline for applications is October 2, 2015.

To see the blogs kept by our past International resident artists, click here.

Open Call: ‘White Creole Conversations’ – New ways of thinking about whiteness in a Caribbean context

Barbadian visual artist & founding director of Fresh Milk Annalee Davis shares an open call for participation in ‘White Creole Conversations’: New ways of thinking about whiteness in a Caribbean context, a forum for honest communication that begins to unpack issues and stereotypes while facilitating understanding about whiteness in the region. These sessions with the artist will take place from August 4 through September, 2015 in Barbados. For those not in the island, Skype meetings can be arranged to discuss participation. Learn more below:

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Where you are understood you are at home.”
– John O’Donahue [1]

The white Creole Caribbean voice has largely been silent or mis/understood in ways that suggest that the white community is monolithic, timeless, and homogenous. The context for this project is the small island of Barbados, where despite its diverse population, social life and kinship are predominantly lived in subtly separate racial spheres.

‘White Creole Conversations’ initiates a new dialogue privileging open and honest communication. Rather than asking ‘who am I?’ the question posed might be ‘who are you?’ The focus of the conversations will pivot on issues to do with race and class in this small post-colonial island space and will take place between the artist and the participant.

This audio project attempts to remove the mask of the white Creole, unpack stereotypes around whiteness and reveal the individuality and diversity of this minority population. Also, this project hopes to facilitate exchanges that challenge singular authoritative ideas to reveal different understandings of the white Creole with a desire to generate self-reflection, self awareness and fresh understandings.

The medium in this artwork is ‘conversation’ which in and of itself becomes an aesthetic device in understanding and shaping civil society. The assumption is that there are generally few opportunities for meaningful dialogue about race in Barbados.White Creole Conversations’ imagines that a more integrated society on a small island is possible when enabled by candid speaking and empathic listening.

Patterned on Theodore Zeldin’s ‘Oxford Muse’, who reminds us that, “the most important networks are those of the imagination, which cross from the conventional to the unconventional, refusing to accept that what exists is the only thing that is possible”, Zeldin writes that we are all wearing our masks.[2] It is now time to unmask ourselves.

Engaging in meaningful discourse is one way of developing empathy and affinity. A menu of questions from which the participant may choose to respond to might include the following: what is the most difficult conversation you have ever had? What is your relationship to the colour of your skin? Have you ever crossed race or class boundaries in love? Have you felt pain because of your race? Where do you belong? Define home? Who are you?

Given that little has been studied about white Creoles and understandings often operate as myth, one goal for this discursive project is to develop more complex renderings that inspire us to think about this minority in ways we might not have considered before. The recorded exchanges will be accessible as portals allowing listeners to enter the world of the speakers with a view to destabilizing the often fixed, narrow definitions of this minority group while offering more subtle and ambiguous understandings.

As an artist, my intention is to use this audio project to invite participants to respond to questions about their experience as a white Creole and investigate how race is privately/publicly experienced. Phase II will open up the dialogue to all members of the island community.

It seems to me that life becomes even more interesting when we know each other more intimately.White Creole Conversations’ may allow us to do so.

[1] John O’Donahue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, 1998
[2] Theodore Zeldin, An Intimate History of Humanity, 1995

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‘White Creole Conversations’: New ways of thinking about whiteness in a Caribbean context is an artistic project facilitated by the visual artist Annalee Davis who will coordinate and conduct the interviews at the Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc.

From August 4-21, 2015 individuals will be invited to participate in one on one conversation with the artist to speak about their ideas and experiences around the white Creole experience.

For those who are not in Barbados but want to participate remotely, an initial meeting via Skype to discuss the project can be arranged and responses to a menu of questions may be submitted in writing, audio or video files.

For more information and to participate in White Creole conversations’ from August 4 through September, 2015, contact the artist: Annalee Davis:
T. 435 1952
M. 230 8897
Facebook – Annalee Davis

Director: Annalee Davis. Photo credit: Charles Phillips of Monochrome Media

Director: Annalee Davis. Photo credit: Charles Phillips of Monochrome Media

About the artist:

Annalee Davis is a Visual Artist based in Barbados. She received a B.F.A from the Maryland Institute, College of Art and an M.F.A. from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her creative practice mines the plantation from the perspective of a white Creole woman. She is a part-time tutor in the BFA programme at the Barbados Community College and has been the founding director of the artist-led initiative and social practice project – The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. since 2011. An experiment and cultural lab, Fresh Milk supports excellence among emerging contemporary creatives locally, throughout the Caribbean, its diaspora and internationally. Located on a working dairy farm and a former sugar cane plantation, Fresh Milk is a nurturing entity; transforming a once exclusive space to become a freely accessible platform with programming supportive of new modes of thinking and interfacing through the arts. Through Fresh Milk she currently co-directs Transoceanic Visual ExchangeTilting Axis and Caribbean Linked, a regional residency programme.

Alice Yard announces the results of their inaugural Prize for Art Writing

alice yard prize winners

From L-R: Winner Stephen Narain (Bahamas) and Honourable Mentions Nicole Smythe-Johnson (Jamaica) and Katherine Kennedy (Barbados)

The co-directors of Alice Yard are pleased to announce that the winner of the inaugural Alice Yard Prize for Art Writing is Stephen Narain, born in the Bahamas and now living in the United States.

From the shortlist of five writers, two more have been selected for honourable mention: Katherine Kennedy of Barbados and Nicole Smythe-Johnson of Jamaica.

The other shortlisted writers are Brandon O’Brien of Trinidad and Tobago and Aiko Maya Roudette of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Narain will receive a cash award of US$1,000, and his essay, along with Kennedy’s and Smythe-Johnson’s, will be published in The Caribbean Review of Books.

Launched by Alice Yard in 2014, the prize is an annual award for an original piece of critical writing on contemporary Caribbean art by a Caribbean writer aged 35 or under. It aims to encourage new writing on Caribbean art and artists, and to identify emerging voices in contemporary Caribbean art criticism. Originally it was expected that the winner of the inaugural prize would be announced in late 2014. Despite the delay in the timetable, the prize will continue to be awarded annually, and the 2015 Alice Yard Prize for Art Writing will open for entries in September.

The co-directors of Alice Yard wish to thank the 2014 prize judges — Krista Thompson, Charles Campbell, and Courtney J. Martin — for their time and critical engagement.

Read more on the Alice Yard website here.

Saada Branker and Powys Dewhurst – Week 4 Blog Post

In the last blog post about their time in Barbados, Fresh Milk‘s international writer-in-residence Saada Branker fretted about missing out on the beauty of the country. Given all that she and filmmaker Powys Dewhurst encountered in the first few weeks on the island as they diligently collected information and footage for their documentary memory project commemorating Hurricane Janet’s 60th anniversary, the obvious had escaped her. Read more about her final revelations below:

Standing on serene farmland with no beaches in sight

Standing on serene farmland with no beaches in sight

“You cannot leave Barbados without eating your mango in the sea.” I was told.

Experiencing such a rite of passage in my parents’ birthplace had me giddy. Before arriving in Barbados, I was all about the beach. I practically bragged to my Toronto girlfriends that I would interview and research everything I could find on the 1955 hurricane, but I also intended to make it out to sunbathe a couple times a week. “I’ll write daily, read, and relax on the beach,” I explained. “And I’m going to sketch—my feet in the sand and the waves rolling in.” Clearly, I was cocky in my delusion; as if there was only one place I could ground myself.

By our fourth week in the Fresh Milk residency, my ashy foot was still dry.

Truth told, on this residency, I was immersed in something deeper and more compelling than the thrill of only sun and sand. Being in landlocked St. George, I was walking in the country, divining dimensions of my environment and what it means to be touched by nature, yet humbled by our inability to control it. Case in point, the unknown series of events that resulted in a deluge of sargassum seaweed washing up along beaches in Christ Church and the East Coast —a hemorrhaging compared to what Barbados has received each year since 2011. Here was an inexplicable increase of the sea’s yield, which prompted the tourism sector to beg Mother Nature for mercy. Swimmers were wishing aloud for a quick return to the pristine beaches and crystal clear waters. Amid the frustration and near panic, the inquisitive Barbadians started asking what long-term environmental benefits could be gleaned from the endless mounds of foul-smelling seaweed. Could the sargassum help prevent soil erosion? Could it enrich agricultural soil as fertilizer?

At the start of our last week, the rain fell like currency from the sky. “Since January!” This exclamation was the outburst we’d often hear from Barbadians as they revelled in the close to a six-month dry season. For me and Powys, the first downpour dampened our mood because we had to reschedule two interviews that day. Any filming outdoors was a no-go. There were reports of flooding in certain areas, and one of our interviewees called to reschedule when her balcony accumulated too much rain water—the same spot she intended to have us set up. As the much-needed moisture soothed the scorched earth, I realized how narrow my perspective was about “good weather.” With the gift of raindrops, moods lifted. Bajans spoke of the daily drenching with appreciation. Again, I had been looking at it all wrong.

Our Hurricane Janet chase was really was about exploring these environmental gifts handed from nature along with the losses reaped. People we interviewed opened their homes to us and shared their gems. When the camera recorded, they spoke almost dutifully of childhood memories and family life, describing how Hurricane Janet fit within the layers of their experiences. After the filming, one host offered us freshly squeezed lemonade, compliments of the trees in her beloved yard. Days before leaving, we received a warm loaf of home-made coconut bread from another host. She surprised us the week earlier with the most scrumptious zucchini bread I’ve had in years. Another interviewee invited us back to her home for tea, and on that occasion she handed Powys two mangos picked from a tree in her garden.

The spirit of generosity was also present within the country’s institutions and businesses. Sitting at Barbados Government Information Service, we reviewed silent, black-and-white footage of Hurricane Janet’s aftermath. In it, forlorn Barbadians sifted through debris. I was reminded of the weakness of our constructed environment. The displaced families living in schools for weeks on end revealed a disturbing reality about the impact of a Category-3 hurricane on the economy. As Tara Inniss of UWI’s history and philosophy department explained on camera, a natural disaster like a tropical storm exposes “the deficiencies” in a country’s infrastructures. In Barbados sixty years ago, those vulnerable spots would be found in housing, fisheries and communications, especially involving hurricane preparedness.

To be standing in the sea’s rolling waves today, indulging one’s senses in the sweet juices of a much-revered fruit, is not a bad indoctrination at all. It conjures that heady spell we fall under, gazing at our environmental geography in all its beauty. Such exquisite gifts of nature often have us assuming they will always be there independent of humankind’s interference or incompetence. But times are cyclical in nature. During an economic downturn it becomes even more important to cultivate, protect and preserve our environment with the respect it deserves, and inevitably demands, as Barbados learned late September in 1955.

I did indulge in my gift of a mango picked from a yard tree. But instead of the sea, I sat eating my fruit on Fresh Milk’s studio platform minutes before we started a workshop on writing. It was my private moment to receive and give thanks. There on farmland, I got to pass my own rite—forever touched by the countryside’s warm breeze and cacophony of earthly melodies.

Our very special thanks to Andrea King, Janice Whittle, Charles Phillips, Natalie McGuire, Top Car Rentals Barbados, Barbados Government Information Service, Barbados Museum & Historical Society, Above Barbados, The National Cultural Foundation of Barbados, The University of West Indies History and Philosophy Department, Southern Rentals Barbados, St. George Parish Church, ArtsEtc, and Fresh Milk Barbados for their contributions and for facilitating our interviews during our stay.

Colección Cisneros shares the debate ‘The Tropical: Resistance or Cultural Tourism?’

Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, a platform for debate concerning the immense contributions of Latin America to the world of art and culture, shares the online debate ‘The Tropical: Resistance or Cultural Tourism?‘ featuring input by Fresh Milk‘s Founding Director Annalee Davis.

Leandro Cardoso Nerefuh, Churrasco Tupinambá, 16th Century (Variable dimensions). Part of the Arquivo Banana [Banana Archive].

Leandro Cardoso Nerefuh, Churrasco Tupinambá, 16th Century (Variable dimensions). Part of the Arquivo Banana [Banana Archive].

About the debate:

The “tropical” has helped to increase visibility in the global art market for contemporary art produced in Latin America (particularly from the Caribbean, Central America, and Brazil). Its vibrant, colorful, and extravagant iconography can be easily read by a broad audience. On one hand, the tropical can empower a worldview that is different from the “western” mainstream that dominates the global art world. On the other, it can be accused of reproducing an exotic colonial gaze that has historically constructed the tropics as only a place of desire and leisure. Has the tropical become a contemporary aesthetic trend that continues to primitivize the “Other”? How has the Latin American art market boom contributed to promoting a particular form of legibility for practices made in tropical climates? Can the tropical be a useful artistic strategy today or is it condemned to banality?

Join the debate here.

Moderators: Carla Acevedo-Yates and Cristiana Tejo carla and cristiana Participants: Mario García Torres, Moacir dos Anjos, Annalee Davis and Leandro Nerefuh

Director: Annalee Davis. Photo credit: Charles Phillips of Monochrome Media

Annalee Davis. Photo credit: Charles Phillips of Monochrome Media

About Colección Cisneros:

The Colección Cisneros website was created to offer a forum for information about, a platform for debate concerning, and a spark for the ignition of interest in the immense contributions of Latin America to the world of art and culture. The site’s inspiration and launching point is the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC), but its ambition is discovery, and its mission is to weave a multi-lingual, virtual network for people and ideas. Founded in the 1970s by Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and Gustavo A. Cisneros, the CPPC is based in New York City and Caracas. Its mission is to enhance appreciation of the diversity, sophistication, and range of art from Latin America, and to advance scholarship of Latin American art. The CPPC achieves these goals through the preservation, presentation, and study of the material culture of the Ibero-American world—ranging from the ethnographic to the contemporary.