FRESH MILK XXII Photographs

Fresh Milk is pleased to share images from FRESH MILK XXII: Residency Readings, hosted on Friday, July 5th, 2019.

Writers-in-residence – inaugural recipient of the Colleen Lewis Research/Writing Residency, Barbadian artist Kia Redman; participant in our international residency programme, Bahamian writer Ethan Knowles; and the 2019 ‘My Time’ Local Resident, Barbadian writer Ark Ramsay – each shared the outcomes of their residencies, giving readings of their work and engaging with the audience about their experiences over the last few weeks.

All photos by Dondré Trotman.

Ethan Knowles’ Fresh Milk Residency – Week 4 Blog Post

Bahamian writer Ethan Knowles shares his final blog post about his Fresh Milk residency. Written a week after his return to the Bahamas, Ethan looks back on his month in Barbados, particularly the building crescendo of his last few days which culminated in the event FRESH MILK XXII: Residency Readings on his last night. A visit to the East Coast was the catalyst he needed to solidify his ideas for the short story he presented at the event, adding a twist to the interpretations and expectations of the frequently asked, loaded question islanders get – what is it like to live here? Read more below:

East Coast antics

It’s been a week since I left Barbados. Since I’ve sat under a zinc roof, surrounded by good souls and the slow billowing serenade of idle cows.  It’s been a week since four weeks of reading, writing and fish cake crawling. It’s been a week, and what a few weeks it’s been.

Week four came right after the Barbados Pride parade, an endlessly inspiring event that brought water to my eyes and liquified my thighs. I walked and wined and smiled and sung and all the while felt welcomed in space I had only known a few weeks. What struck me especially about the parade (my first of the kind) was, frankly, how well it all worked out. It brought together people from separate walks on the same walk: a walk through Bridgetown meant to bring together what, for so long in our region, has not been allowed to be.

Love in all its forms filtered through the streets of Barbados and for making it happen leading organizer RoAnn Mohammed of Equals Barbados must be applauded.

In the days that followed, the whole cohort got to work preparing for FRESH MILK XXII: Residency Readings. Kia, Ark and I gathered our wits and began crafting a range of stories to read and perform on what would be my last night on the island. All the while I began to wonder. Who would my story follow? What would happen? And how would it all intersect with my month of study? These questions hovered around my head like hummingbirds as I went through the week in search of the right words and who would say them.

In the meantime, the whole Fresh Milk team had the opportunity to tour the wonderful work-in-progress multi-use creative ecosystem that is Union Collaborative, an ongoing project spearheaded by designer Israel Mapp. The soon-to-be urban hub for arts and design sat two stories high on a city block in Bridgetown, and hidden away at its core was a beautiful sunbaked courtyard. After moving around its eccentric rooms, we made our way over to Norman Centre to chat with Kraig Yearwood about his forthcoming exhibition “Retro-Future Landscapes” and eventually share a vegan meal with a side of mafia stories.

East Coast antics

Later in the week I took a trip to the east coast.

It felt like the edge of the world. Long sweeping breaks of surf faded away at the foot of steep slopes and a haze like held breath hung around the edges. It was mythic, haunting even.

It was just what I needed.

And with that I began to write My First Vacation, a story which draws from Isaac Babel’s My First Fee but reads unmistakably Caribbean. It deals with topics of class, grief and space on a small island. There are more than a few touches of humor written into it, but they slip and slide between deeply somber and even morbid moments. In writing it I was thinking a lot about the question of “What’s it like to live here?”– a question I get fairly often at home in New Providence. What is it like to live on a small island? Does the here of the visitor translate to the here of the local? And, if there is a disconnect, who is allowed to cross that divide? Is the question a rhetorical one? Does it beg for an answer, or require a confirmation? What might it miss?

Writing the story was for me an attempt to think through, if not answer, these questions. I feel we tend to believe that you think and then you write. That you have this thing you want to express and that all you need to do is find the words that fit. For me, it was quite a different experience altogether. I didn’t know what I thought. I had no answers. But I did want to make my way toward finding them, to stumble upon something. And so, I set about writing. And that’s how I found my way.

Many thanks to Annalee, Katherine, Ark, and Kia for all the love and support they’ve shown me since I arrived at Grantley Adams International Airport.

Fresh Milk Family. Photo by Dondré Trotman

#ask TVE 2019 – Community Feedback

As part of Transoceanic Visual Exchange‘s (TVE) community led curatorial approach to the selection of works that will be screened as part of our 2019 programme, we invite input from those living in the Caribbean and its diaspora to share their thoughts on what is happening right now in the areas of video art and film in their region.

#askTVE lets you submit your feedback directly to our team, which will add to the discourse in our community roundtable sessions and be taken into consideration when forming the final shape of the programme.

Respond to the form here!

About TVE 2019:

The Fresh Milk Art Platform (Barbados), China Residencies (NY and China), The Barbados Museum and Historical Society, I: project space (Beijing) and Alice Yard (Trinidad & Tobago) are partnering to screen a survey of of recent film and video works – screenings, installations, new media and expanded cinema – by contemporary artists practicing in the Caribbean, China and their diasporas for the third edition of Transoceanic Visual Exchange (TVE), a series of programmes taking place this year between Barbados, China and Trinidad & Tobago.

Fresh Milk announces participation in the international programme ‘CONTESTED DESIRES’

Fresh Milk is delighted to be a part of the team of cultural entities headed by D6: Culture in Transit whose collaborative project “CONTESTED DESIRES” was awarded funding by Creative Europe. We are the only Caribbean cultural organisation on the team, and we very much look forward to working with our EU partners between now and 2021 as the project unfolds.

See the original press release on the D6 website here.

CONTESTED DESIRES

D6based in Newcastle upon Tyne, has been awarded €199,937 to promote creative international connections and development opportunities between our region, the rest of Europe and beyond.

D6 is one of only a handful of UK organisations leading these international cultural projects, and the only one to be selected in the North East of England. CONTESTED DESIRES will include partners in Italy (ECCOM), Spain (La Bonne), Cyprus (Xarkis), Portugal (Lac) and Barbados (Fresh Milk). Through contemporary visual arts it explores our colonial histories and the impact this has had on our understanding of European cultural heritage and identity. At a time of increasing right wing populism, CONTESTED DESIRES aims to challenge the de-stabilising and divisive impact of political discourse where the complexities, diversity and expansion of our communities continue to be met with the power play of fear-mongering, discrimination and exclusion.

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CONTESTED DESIRES will work with artists and producers to engage with communities both in the North East and further a field to create spaces for intercultural dialogue. The programme will begin in September 2019 and over the next two years will offer unique opportunities for artists and communities, further enriching the cultural scene and supporting creatives to grow their experience and knowledge of the wider international arts sector. The programme will include artist residences, capacity building, exhibitions, public events and new digital work.

This is not the first time that D6 has attracted Creative Europe to the UK.  From 2014-18 Corners connected communities in the North East of England to communities across Europe. Through a creative programme, Corners drew threads between neighbourhoods built for industries that were no longer there or that had significantly changed.

At a time of such uncertainty with our relationship with Europe, we are pleased to have been handed the baton by the European Commission to continue to grow this region’s international collaborations, and by our international partners who chose to invest in D6 and in the UK when the political landscape is so uncertain. We are delighted to once again be bringing this investment to our region and look forward to the journey ahead.

Clymene Christoforou, Director, D6: Culture in Transit

Ethan Knowles’ Fresh Milk Residency – Week 3 Blog Post

Bahamian writer Ethan Knowles shares his third blog post about his Fresh Milk residency. Ethan begins with an excerpt from a piece he is writing in Barbados, specifically after walking along south coast and observing people along the way – both locals and visitors – and imagining the thoughts that might be going through their minds. He also shares the outcome of his collage workshop ‘Dis We Tings’ held at Fresh Milk, which prompted a similar kind of introspection about Caribbean identity, and how we can express the many things that means despite being subjected to a touristic gaze. Read more below:

Bus stop ‘To City’

This week I walked along the south coast. I wrote the following at a café along the way.

I am walking along a Bay Street not unlike my own. It is not a long road, but it is – when travelling by foot. It traces the curve of Carlisle Bay, carrying me out of Bridgetown and into a place I have driven through but never before tread. It feels familiar, and yet I cannot be sure what waits around the corner. What building, business or bus stop comes next, I cannot say. That I am going somewhere – that I am on this walk – is all I know.

And on this walk, down (or maybe up) a street I feel I went to high school with some time ago, I see the same image. It repeats itself, though in different forms – always altered but somehow undeniably the same. I see backs: sometimes slouched, sometimes straight. Always shaded, and always, without exception, alone. And though I never feel isolation in these solitary figures, sat like anchors looking out at a sea they left behind, I do feel longing. Indeed, I feel a pining – a pining that could very well be my own – gathered up on these shaded benches without backs holding up backs.

I wonder where their thoughts go, these ocean watchers. Whether they drift to a life they hope to live, or a life they’ve left behind. Whether they wrap themselves up in what’s been going on in the news, or whether the present is the last thing that passes through. Whether they worry about money, or the mortgage, or if they’ll make it to their next vacation. Whether they’re eating enough. Whether they’re drinking too much. Whether they’re pregnant. Whether the rain will come, and the laundry will get wet. Or if they have good credit, or what good credit even means. Whether it’s worth it or, in the case of their house, it’s worth enough. Whether the dog needs to be walked or if that cashier was just being friendly or if the gas light, like the yellow traffic light, is really just a suggestion. Whether the crabs like it better on land or if they themselves would be better off at sea. Whether the bus fares will go back down. Whether to laugh. And, in rare cases, whether to lip sync. Whether this was the way it was supposed to go all along or if the guesses were all just lucky. Or unlucky. Whether the end was near or if there even was one and if it mattered anyway. Whether it was time to go. Or, as it often seemed on that walk along Bay Street, whether there was all the time in the world.

I am thinking of extending this piece further but am fairly content with how it’s already developed.

In other news, on Wednesday I facilitated “Dis We Tings”, a collage workshop exploring Caribbean identity, and I am very pleased with how it went. The workshop encouraged reflection on such questions as:  What does it mean to be Caribbean? Who are we? Where are we going? And how are we working to construct our own images and identities in the face of increasingly pernicious touristic representations?

Using tourist brochures, maps and magazines, participants deconstructed one-dimensional representations of the Caribbean in order to craft collages which more meaningfully expressed their (cultural) identities. In this way, images produced with the tourist eye in mind were reconstructed by and with a focus on Caribbean people themselves, many of whom are disadvantaged one way or another by the industry.

Later in the week the whole Fresh Milk cohort met up at the exquisitely decorated home of local arts patron Dr. Clyde Cave for a wonderful evening filled with remarks on our time as residents, warm conversation, kind company, and delightful hors d’oeuvres. This week I am also proud to note that I ate what must be by now my eighth roti from Chutney’s! Fingers crossed I keep the streak alive.