Article featured in the Cyprus Dossier: Notions of common/wealth versus single/wealth

The 7th edition of the Cyprus Dossier, launched this summer during the International Artist Initiated project hosted by the David Dale Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland, featured an article titled ‘Notions of common/wealth versus single/wealth‘ written by Fresh Milk‘s founding director Annalee Davis. Read the piece below:

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“Global art is not only polycentric as a practice, but also demands a polyphonic discourse. Art history has divided the world, whereas the global age tends to restore unity on another level. Not only is the game different: it is also open to new participants who speak in many tongues and who differ in how they conceive of art in a local perspective. We are watching a new mapping of art worlds in the plural which claim geographic and cultural difference.”[1]

The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., founded in 2011, is located on a dairy farm on the island of Barbados in the Southern Caribbean. We are one of several artist-led initiatives continually emerging across the archipelago supporting contemporary art production and the shaping of critical communities in the region. The local contexts these Caribbean artist networks respond to is the lack of formal institutions to meet artists’ needs, such as a national art gallery or a museum of contemporary art with a mandate to support the production, discussion and visibility of contemporary practice.

Artists in the region are functioning in an arena with relatively small local audiences, underdeveloped primary art markets and, in most cases, non-existent secondary markets for contemporary art works with very few spaces to exhibit. A challenge this poses is that much of the artwork produced in the region is exhibited, appreciated and valued outside of the region where more developed creative environments function, creating a gap between artists and their domestic audiences. Artist-led initiatives have been working to bridge this gap by creating opportunities for creatives to engage with local audiences.

Fresh Milk responds by (i) offering residencies for local artists to produce work and nurture critical thinking, (ii) expanding the reading room to acquire material focusing on contemporary practice from within the region and around the world, not available anywhere else on the island, (iii) activating the reading material through establishing mentoring opportunities for young people who write critical reviews of the book collection shared through the Tumblr page – Fresh Milk Books – The books that make us scream!, and (iv) staging public events providing local audiences and artists moments to engage with each other, along with other activities.

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While recognizing the importance of nurturing the local environment, Fresh Milk is equally committed to participating in larger and more diverse conversations regionally. Common obstacles rippling throughout the region’s creative sectors act as unifiers, giving rise to geographical connections among artists across the Caribbean who share in these frustrations and resulting in the formation of many of these artist-led initiatives and collaborations.

Fresh Milk’s online interactive mapping project reconfirms our regional identity and functions as a transnational exercise demonstrating the presence of a myriad of arts entities across the Caribbean from the nineteenth century till now – refuting the fact that we are a divided space as determined by former colonizers who used dominant languages to separate the region linguistically. Consolidating regional art spaces into one, the readily accessible online map also acts as a crucial educational and research tool for locating historical and current data about Caribbean art, broadening both local and international knowledge, awareness and collaboration. Mapping becomes an act of resistance as we become our own cartographers, insisting on connection rather than division and relationship as opposed to discord. The map also resists the notion that there is a central and singular art world of which we are peripheral.

While it maybe true that, as Amanda Coulson wrote in the Frieze April issue, ‘The idea that anything intellectual happens here is anathema to the brand we have projected to the outside world’,[2] this map opposes the reductive way in which the Caribbean has been branded repeatedly as an exotic playground for people from elsewhere.

Fresh Milk has worked with partners in the region to establish a regional residency project called Caribbean Linked.[3] This project brings artists throughout the region to make and exhibit art, engage in critical dialogue and build relationships, while using the arts to foster a more unified Caribbean.

As our relationships spread beyond the insular Caribbean, our programming expands to reflect the shifting dynamics of our engagements. Nurturing our core foundation in the Caribbean equips us to build robust, meaningful connections internationally – not seeking validation, but rather mutually enriching cultural exchanges. Fresh Milk is continually fostering critical conversations with entities throughout the Caribbean, in the Global South and traversing the North/South axis of the world to holistically realize a healthy cultural ecosystem.

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INTERNATIONAL ARTIST INITIATED

The invitation from David Dale Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland, is an example of how Fresh Milk is provided with opportunities to engage with international artist networks, in this instance, from the Commonwealth of Nations. In July 2014, we will join the Clark House Initiative (India), The Cyprus Dossier (Cyprus), Fillip (Canada), RM (New Zealand), Video Network Lagos (Nigeria) and David Dale Gallery (Scotland) in Glasgow to collectively make a series of critical interventions for their project, International Artist initiated (IAI). The IAI project reaffirms art as a polycentric practice and is creating this significant platform for a truly polyphonic discourse.

Fresh Milk’s contribution to IAI is in two parts. The first will see the installation of works by three emerging artists on a billboard, external walls of buildings, 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; Mark King who will share a suite of beautiful linear works, inspired by geometry and origami with patterns derived from algorithms generated from the 2008 banking crisis, and Alberta Whittle’s fête (party) posters. Alberta performs 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 will be reproduced in multiples and plastered throughout the streets of Glasgow.

Fresh Milk’s second contribution will be a discursive project titled “common-wealth / single-wealth”. This dialogical component will provide 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 will, in part, be 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.

BACKGROUND TO THE COMMONWEALTH

The Commonwealth of Nations comprises of 53 independent countries associating voluntarily within this umbrella organization. Most of these nations are former colonies of the British Empire who generated wealth for a single kingdom, brutally extracted from labour and raw materials derived from colonies flung far across the globe. The Commonwealth of Nations is a diverse association including some of the largest and wealthiest countries as well as some of the smallest and poorest, more than half of which are small island states. The origin of the term was mooted in 1884 when the British empire was described as a Commonwealth of Nations by Lord Rosebury while he visited Australia.[4]

In 1926, at an Imperial Conference, the UK and its dominions agreed that they were “equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.” In 1949, “Commonwealth prime ministers issued the London Declaration, which changes membership from one based on common allegiance to the British Crown to one in which members agree to recognise the British monarch as head of the Commonwealth, rather than as their head of state.”[5]

In 1971, the Singapore Declaration of shared principles was adopted to include commitments to individual liberty, freedom from racism, peace, economic and social development, and international cooperation. In 1991, the Harare Declaration added democracy, good government and human rights to the Commonwealth’s shared principles.[6]

But the background to these now politically correct, supposedly globally shared egalitarian principles is rooted in something entirely different…the fundamental values that made the Empire so powerful were greed, enslavement, corruption, invasion, racism and pure wickedness – basically a ‘get whatever you can in the most horrendous way’ philosophy, and then run with the spoils, laughing all the way to the bank. What in fact we all have in common is the colonial experience, that terrible encounter which now makes us somewhat familiar, one to the other. That baptism by fire and the English language is what we all share.

“The war of Independence and subsequent de-colonization, may have been fought, and won, on a blueprint of self-determination from the colonial masters, lauded and welcomed universally. The mirrors of international recognition, independence and self-governance, however, flattering though they appeared, were already fractured with partial images, half-told tales and misrecognitions that the young state, drunk with the joy of its own birth, had been turning a blind eye to.”[7]

The Commonwealth of Nations really began as the British Empire back in the 16th century with Britain’s invasion of many lands all over the world. Ideals such as international cooperation were not in fashion in 1625 when Barbados, for example, became a British colony. As the centuries passed and the British Empire’s dependant nations became less profitable, they were slowly granted independence beginning in 1931 with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. India became independent in 1947, Nigeria and Cyprus in I960, and Barbados, once England’s richest colony, became independent in 1966 at a point when it stopped generating masses of wealth for the mother country through the production of white gold, commonly known as sugar.

The English language has become so well laundered that we are encouraged to believe that we all play on an equal and clean playing field. Dig a little below the surface of free trade agreements however, such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) – an agreement between Europe and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states – and the dirty laundry surfaces again. Nigerian economics professor, Charles Chukwuma Soludo argues that the EPA is Europe’s second scramble for Africa, while accusing China and India of invading or exploiting Africa.[8]

Professor Norman Girvan, in a workshop on Alternative Trade at St. Mary’s University in 2013, posited that the EPA is a way for Global Europe to neo-liberalise relations with the Global South in order to maintain access to ACP resources and markets while competing for market control against China and the USA. He writes that as the ACP countries continue to export raw materials, food and consumer services and import manufactured goods and producer services, the same colonial model that Britain used centuries ago, albeit now consolidated with its European partners, continues to be repeated over and over again.[9] Although Africa continues to put up a fight against the signing of the EPA, the Caribbean eagerly signed, rendering our own efforts at regional integration null and void, sidelining our best interests in order to secure Europe’s ability to compete globally.

Once we were colonies, raped and pillaged at will. Now with apparent ‘self-governance’ we are supposedly decolonized, established as free and equal members of the Commonwealth of Nations. The English language, our colonial past, democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law unite us. We recognize Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of the Commonwealth.

The British Empire transformed into the British Commonwealth, which became the Commonwealth of Nations, commonly known as the Commonwealth, with the Commonwealth Games as its most visible activity. And here we are in 2014, gathering to celebrate sport (and art) in the Motherland as one big, happy Commonwealth family.

THE DISCURSIVE PANEL FOR THE IAI PROJECT

Drawing a line back to Fresh Milk’s proposed framework for the proposed discursive component, we intend 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. In the Vancouver based Fillip publication, in its 2012 issue called Institutions by Artists, Peta Rake asks if artist run spaces “attempt to address their structures as alternative modes of artist collective organizations, (and) in what ways do these Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs) take into account the specific location and contingent relationship to the local context”. Rake asks if provincialism arises out of colonial processes or geographic location, or might it be more an attitude adopted by an individual given their position within the system of art, which forces subservience to externally imposed hierarchical values.[10]

Similarly, for the purposes of Fresh Milk’s discursive component, the concern is to unpack 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. We will meet in Glasgow from Auckland, Bombay/Mumbai, Bridgetown, Lagos, Nicosia and Vancouver. We have English in common, yes, but we hail from nations of people who also speak Marathi, Maori, dialect, Yoruba, Greek and Turkish.

Questions Fresh Milk will invite participants to consider include the following:

  • What does single wealth and common wealth mean or evoke to each of the seven initiatives?
  • As former British colonies and in relation to this gathering under the umbrella of the Commonwealth of Nations, are there concerns of being central or peripheral? What constitutes the centre, and who or what are we peripheral to? Is there anxiety about provincial versus metropolitan environments related to physical location, creative production or critical thinking?
  • How do we engage nationally, regionally and trans-nationally? Do we have allegiances with the Global South, and how do they affect or relate to more traditional interactions with the North?
  • Do artist-led institutions contribute to artists choosing to remain at home, seeing these networks as viable spaces from which they can create and contribute to, within their own context, rather than viewing emigration as the most viable option?
  • Given that those working in the diaspora sometimes struggle with exclusion in local communities in the metropolitan centres and are increasingly looking homeward as potential spaces to re-engage with, what is our responsibility to artists in varying diasporic communities who feel simultaneously connected to and disconnected from, both the original homeland and the adopted homes?
  • Are issues of economic viability for artist led initiatives a core concern, and should alternate models of sustainability be considered and developed? Are decisions to operate outside of formal institutions or away from the market influenced by our positions as More Developed Countries (MDCs) or Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs)? What is the responsibility of MDCs in relation to LDCs?
  • How can we take advantage of this IAI gathering to germinate longer-term relationships among these networks? How, for example, might digital technology support transnational collaborative opportunities among IAI participants? How do we move forward from here?

Sources:

[1] Belting, H. et. al. (eds) (2013) The Global Contemporary and The Rise of New Art Worlds, MIT Press, p.184.

[2] Coulson, A. (2014), ‘Island Life’, Frieze, Frieze Publishing Limited, No.162, April 2014, p.133.

[3] http://freshmilkbarbados.com/caribbean-linked-ii/; accessed on 27 May 2014.

[4] http://thecommonwealth.org/about-us#sthash.JrUvIL9b.dpuf; accessed on 27 May 2014.

[5] http://thecommonwealth.org/our-history#29; accessed on 27 May 2014.

[6] Ibid.,

[7] Aristodemou, M. (2012), ‘Crisis, Beyond the Comfort of Anxiety and Fear’, The Cyprus Dossier, Issue 03, July 2012, pp.20.

[8] http://www.normangirvan.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/EPA-AS-SECOND-SCRAMBLE-FOR-AFRICA-11.pdf; accessed on 27 May 2014.

[9] http://www.normangirvan.info/category/epa-text-and-commentaries/; accessed on 27 May 2014.

[10] Rake, P. (2012), ‘Inclusivity and Isolation’, Folio Series, Institutions by Artists, Volume One, Edited by Khonsary, J. and Kristina Lee Podesva, K., Fillip Editions / Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres, pp.151.

 

ARC Magazine announces Katherine Kennedy’s Fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude

ARC Magazine shares Katherine Kennedy‘s first report from Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart. Katherine was selected on behalf of Fresh Milk to participate in the ResSupport Fellowship programme offered by Res Artis. During her 3 month tenure, she will be a resident correspondent, interacting with the personnel and fellows, conducting interviews, and extending the wealth of the Akademie’s programming to our community. Read more below:

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The best way I can describe both the past few and upcoming months would be transitionary. Working in the arts is flexible by nature, but at times it feels even more crucial to be receptive to change when operating in the context of the Caribbean and contributing to platforms such as ARC Magazine and Fresh Milk. The missions of both initiatives overlap and synergize in their commitment to maintaining critical, creative spaces of encounter, acting as ‘cultural labs‘ whose agendas surpass nationalistic thinking with the larger, holistic good of the region in mind. These are ambitious goals that both ARC and Fresh Milk rise and adapt to in a number of ways on an ongoing basis, and goals that can only be achieved through open mindedness to new ideas, new people and new environments.

I applied in the capacity of Assistant to Director at Fresh Milk to the ResSupport Fellowship programme offered by Res Artis, a worldwide network of over 400 residencies of which Fresh Milk is a member. The fellowship is described as an “exchange program of cultural workers at residency centres…[providing] the occasion to increase organisational consciousness, strengthen the bonds, and also generate knowledge and cultural sharing among the members of the Res Artis network.”

These ideas of exchange and knowledge transfer immediately resonated, having always been at the heart of our work, and I was honoured to have been selected to travel to Stuttgart, Germany to be hosted for three months (September 1 – December 1, 2014)  by Akademie Schloss Solitude. In addition to gaining insight into how this prestigious residency centre is run and fostering relationships with the staff and resident artists, I will be acting as a correspondent on behalf of Fresh Milk and ARC, sharing information on the Caribbean contemporary art scene and in turn extending my experiences and information gained at the Akademie with our networks throughout the region. I’m aiming to ensure that this journey is not a drop in a pond, but can lead to future collaboration and be mutually enriching for all involved – large goals seem to come with the territory, but the very existence of opportunities such as this is proof that there is a real desire on both sides for meaningful engagement.

The transition from Barbados to Germany is taking place, and even as I take the time to orient myself here I am eager to absorb as much as I can, having hit the ground running. But while this shift in my location and commitments will be more than a drop in a pond in the greater scheme of things, it has still produced ripples in the daily functioning of both initiatives I am representing.

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While I am abroad, Barbadian artist and regular volunteer at Fresh Milk, Versia Harris, will be stepping in and interning as Assistant to Director in training, exemplifying the importance of investing in the development of emerging artists and equipping them with the necessary skills to confidently enter professional environments. Similarly, ARC has recently inducted three interns into its fold – Katherine Agard, Varala Maraj and Natalie Willis – who have each been applying their talents and doing a fantastic job at working cohesively with ARC’s core team. Witnessing the domino effect of knowledge transfer that is already branching out from all sides feels very special to me, and can only stretch further and further as time passes and each new experience gets added to the mix.

Transition is also a form of evolution. New ideas, new people, new environments; all of these continue to come together to spell progress, growth and fresh prospects in ways that we envision reaching far beyond my tenure in Germany, with the input of so many incredible individuals and institutions working in tandem to create and circulate new possibilities. In this spirit, I’ll finish by sharing Akademie Schloss Solitude’s current call for applications to their next residency cycle below – perhaps it will be the first point of departure from this fellowship for new discoveries and opportunities for others:

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Call for Applications: Akademie Schloss Solitude

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) and Video/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.

 

Fresh Stops

Fresh Stops

Fresh Milk  is pleased to announce a collaborative partnership with the local initiative Adopt A Stop to bring art into the public space, commissioning six young Barbadian artists to produce original artwork for the benches which will pop up around the island from October 2014. The artists are Evan Avery, Matthew Clarke, Versia Harris, Mark King, Simone Padmore and Ronald Williams. This project is an opportunity to create visibility for the work these emerging creatives are doing, allowing the public to encounter and interact with their pieces in everyday life, generating interest and inviting dialogue about their practices. These six benches are the first edition of, hopefully, many more to come. Stay tuned for more information as these benches come to a stop near you!

About Adopt A Stop:

The Adopt A Stop project provides socially beneficial advertising.in the form of bus shelters, benches and outdoor fitness stations at prime sites around Barbados. They embrace solar lighting, local materials and tropical design in keeping with their goal of environmental sustainability.

About the Artists:

Evan Avery

Evan Avery is a young, Barbadian artist; and a graduate of the Barbados Community College, receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine arts. His primary medium is acrylic paint; working with flat, bright colours, he creates compositions with characters ‘the Miniis’ which he uses to represent himself or others, as well as events in his life. He is now in the process of creating a business around his work, transferring his characters and ideas onto clothing and other objects as a means to share the ‘Miniis’ with people all over the world. From September 2013 – March 2014, Evan’s work was exhibited at Casa Tomada, Sao Paulo, in their public art programme ‘A Casa Recebe’.

Matthew Clarke

Matthew Clarke‘s passion for art started at a young age, and he began participating in the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) while attending St. Michael’s School. Through the Festival, he achieved bronze, silver, gold and incentive awards, and went on to be the recipient of the Prime Minster’s Scholarship for Visual Art in 2003. Clarke completed his Associate Degree in Visual Art at the Barbados Community College (BCC) which earned him a Barbados Exhibition for tertiary studies, and in 2009 he obtained a Bachelor Degree with honours in Graphic Design at the same institution. He has freelanced for various design agencies (Virgo, 809, RED Advertising, G and A Communication, RCA) and worked at the Nation Publishing Company on the Attitude Magazine, creating its logo and design. He has also worked at Banks Holdings Limited (BHL), where he was appointed Internal Web Designer in charge of the Banks Beer website.

In addition to working on independent projects, he has been working as a graphic designer at RED Advertising and PR Agency as of 2011, where he is currently Deputy Creative Director. He is the co-owner and principle of a Caribbean comic company called Beyond Publishing, which has published over 22 books sold digitally and in print, both locally and internationally.

Versia Harris

Versia Harris is a Barbadian artist living and working in Weston, St. James. She graduated from the Barbados Community College with a BFA in the Studio Art programme in 2012, with an award from The Lesley’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 IV Moscow International Young Art Biennial. Versia tackles perceptions of fantasy in contrast to the reality of her original character. She uses Adobe Photoshop to manipulate her pen drawings to create the animations.

Mark King

Mark King is a multidisciplinary Barbadian artist who explores archetypes and social norms. Interested in notions of topography and megalography, Mark makes coded, often satirical work that highlights social phenomena. The son of a former diplomat, mark has called several places home. Growing up in the Bahamas, Belgium and the United Sates has left Mark with a unique perspective that directly influences his artistic practice.

Mark holds a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Photography from the Academy of Art University is San Francisco, California. In 2011 the Lucie Foundation handpicked Mark for their apprenticeship programme. During the same year he participated in a screen-printing residency at Alice Yard in Port of Spain, Trinidad. In  2013, he participated in two residencies – Fresh Milk in Saint George, Barbados and Ateliers 89’ in Aruba for the Mondriaan Foundation’s Caribbean Linked II. Last year he released his first monograph, ‘Plastic’ through MOSSLESS publishing at The Newsstand in New York. Plastic has gone on to The 2013 New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1, The 8Ball Zine Fair, the 2013 I Never Read Art Book Fair in Basel, Switzerland, and The 2014 LA Art Book Fair in the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. In July – August of 2014, Mark’s work was on display as part of the International Artist Initiated project (IAI) hosted by the David Dale Gallery & Studios as part of The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme, which took place alongside this year’s Commonwealth Games.

Simone Padmore

Simone Padmore, also known as Simone Asia, is an Illustrator who was born on May 2nd, 1990 in Bridgetown, Barbados. Since the age of four she has been very interested in art, particularly the drawing of human figures. By the time she completed secondary school, Simone had decided that Visual Arts was the career path she would choose. From 2006-2011, Simone attended the Barbados Community College where she received her Associate’s Degree in Visual Arts and her Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Studio Art. Attending the Barbados Community College exposed Simone to many different art forms, techniques and experimentation. As the days went by she grew a stronger sensibility for drawing and developed a love for pen and ink which today is her desired choice of media. After college, Simone continued her independent practice. She has shown in art shows and fund-raising events. Simone won the incentive award at NIFCA in 2011. She also was featured in magazines such as the Arc Magazine, FuriaMag magazine and Caribbean Beat Magazine along with a few online fanzines. Simone has done two residencies so far – Fresh Milk in 2012 and Projects and Space in 2014. Simone is currently developing her personal work and is due to attend another residency in Trinidad with Alice Yard in August.

 Ronald Williams

Ronald Williams is a multimedia artist and graduate of the Barbados Community College Fine Arts program. His work currently focuses on race and sociology, most recently investigating the role that sports and the black athlete play in society. He manipulates popular based imagery to compose computer-generated images that explore sports, perceptions, stereotypes and fantasies about the black athlete or figure. This collage series was shown in Scotland at 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.

Offset Issue #1: The Man Who Travels With a Piece of Sugarcane – #CCF

Offset Issue #1

In late 17th century and early 18th century Japan, there was a famous Ronin swordsman by the name of Miyamoto Musashi. The term Ronin was normally applied to samurai who didn’t have a master, either because the master died or the warrior was in disgrace. In Offset Issue #1: The Man Who Travels with a Piece of Sugarcane (2014), the main character Kyle Harding is a little like a stick/sugar cane fighting Musashi—who happens to attend University in contemporary Barbados.

The above excerpt is from Kwame Slusher’s review of Offset Issue #1 by Tristan Roach and Delvin Howellthis 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!

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

schloss solitdue insta logos

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.