Maj Hasager & Ask Kæreby – Week 1 Blog Post

Danish artists Maj Hasager and Ask Kæreby share a blog post about week one of their Fresh Milk residency, taking place during the month of November, 2015. This will be the artists’ first collaborative residency. It has begun with researching the island through publications, museum visits, talks and exploring the landscape, and will progress into public engagement and teaching components over the coming weeks. Read more below:

A week has passed since we arrived at this lovely place – Fresh Milk. It has been a week of ongoing conversations that have taken us through different trails of pasts and presents, and imagining possible futures. It is our first collaborative residency, and we are collecting sounds, photographing, digging through the archives and following traces in the history of the island. We will both do teaching as a part of our residency. Maj will explore notions of social practice together with fine arts students at Barbados Community College and Ask will conduct an experimental sound workshop every Thursday for the coming three weeks. We are both really excited to be here. For Ask it is his first visit to the Caribbean, and for me it is a return to where I stayed for quite a while in the late 90’s – more than 15 years later it is a very different meeting with the region. Like looking at a faded colour photograph of oneself and appreciating that time too is passing.

Our first day at Fresh Milk was a solid introduction to the Colleen Lewis reading room – as well as the joy of tapping into Annalee’s encyclopaedic memory that became increasingly activated as our conversation progressed. The result is now a pile of books on my desk in the studio. All of them are relevant for both of us, and create different entry points to the place and its layers of histories.

Fresh Milk is an unbelievable valuable and important resource for contemporary art, writing and sound. It functions as a critical platform for exchange of ideas, and the level of engagement from both Annalee and Katherine is highly motivating, as is the studio space – the perfect place to think and reflect. After an insanely busy year, it is indeed something we both are benefitting from and it allows us to explore different notions of our own individual praxes as well as working together, sketching for a new collaborative project. We can already conclude that our time here seems too short.

We have spent the first week of our stay following traces of written and official history by looking at what is represented by the different museums around the island that we have visited. When working in an unfamiliar setting we try to acquire at least a basic understanding of the place – while being fully aware that we experience with the gaze of an outsider. So this past week has been an attempt to scratch the surface and begin exploring the island by local buses – which until now has been a great starting point for conversation as well as eavesdropping on teenagers chatting during morning rush hour.

A few highlights from last week, which has been packed with visits to museums, site visits and research: A lecture by the historian Karl Watson titled “From Sugar to Tourism” on the shifting landscapes of the island, which gave a broad spectrum of information on post plantation Barbados – as well as the future influence of tourism. It was indeed food for thought thinking through the perhaps short-term strategies for tourism that might not benefit the island with any sort of sustainability. Another highlight was the beautiful Arlington House Museum in Speightstown where a very dedicated invigilator gave us a brilliant tour of the house – if you can forgive the overly interactive aspect of the museum, the displays offer a more critical reflection on the colonial past and the slave trade. Last but not least in terms of highlights:  Photographing and recording sound on the east and the west coast – offering two very different entry points and landscapes to explore.

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This residency is supported in part by the Danish Arts Foundation

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