Caribbean Linked II Artist Blogs: Germille Geerman

Aruban artist Germille Geerman shares his blog post about  Caribbean Linked II, his recent residency at Ateliers ’89, Aruba. Following his review of the opening exhibition, Geerman tells us more about the time leading up to it, and playing hard in addition to working hard as he got to know the other residents. He emphasizes the value of having spaces like this to feel comfortable in and form connections, while still engaging with like minded, critical artists.

The infamous Bronco.

The infamous Bronco.

Have you ever heard of men with pink nails?? Man did Those pink walls have me beat,… But the painting Had to be done,… My new motto for the Ateliers is, “Meet me at the Giant Lipstick…” And they did… The meet & greet was nice… Alydia Kicked ass,… and There I met them,… Mark, Rodell, Veronica, Omar, Shirley, Sofia, Robin, and of course Kevin,… It’s great seeing him again,… and meeting everybody else, breaking the ice… Dhiraj Didn’t make it on time,… But he did the next day… Fashionably late in his Flexibleman SUIT and with a great speech… We had breakfast, lunch and dinn,… Well, we had Heavy Lunches to say the least… We got classes where we got to know each & everyone’s career & goals… We were Served like Kings & Queens,… And Mentored by the finest on the island,…

Aritsts meeting with Ciro Abath for a studio visit

Aritsts meeting with Ciro Abath for a studio visit

It was an honor getting to know these Aruban contemporary Artists So close & Personal,… Visiting their Ateliers, being in their homes… A little bit of the “family feeling” even if it was for a little while… I had a lot to do before it all started… Every day,… Late nights, and “try-to” early mornings, kind of,… Don Jacinto’s Was great,.. It’s a pity the waitresses didn’t make it to the expo… They’ve treated us well,… The Guys liked them a great bunch… Ciro (Terafuse), Osaira (StudiO), Glenda (San Nicolas TV), Ryan (SWBE Media), Alydia Wever Theater Dance Company… Carubbian, Buchi’s Place, Not Buchi Bar (there’s a difference) Copacabana for the great tip,… Ofno Glenda?? Alejandra, Local store, Kevin’s Pool Party, Danny @House of Music, Bruno Getz, Taliban, For the amazing Vibez… Don Pinchos, mano,… If you’re ever in the area Do pass by,… All Great People,… they treated us all Grandly… And shall treat you so Too,… Zeerovers? Epicc swa,… Still Looking forward for the GIF’s Mark,… Que Pasa… Last year was with Annalee, This year was with Holly, by accident,… Same table too,… Funny coincidence… Those waiters did not come also,… What is it with waiters not visiting us on our expo night, Right?

The wine.

The wine.

Here I met Friends,… The Golden Kind,… We all have same aims & goals,… Ain’t that something… Everyone had their corner… Yup, the Ateliers is THAT BIG… We had a Bronco,… a Birdie,… We Concur & Conquered (original, no copia) The whole Island for those 12 days,… Yup… Aruba was Our Oyster,… And will always be,… We had 2 huge wine Bottles to do some Art with… So we did, we drank them for inspiration and of course, The Ultimate Party Fuel… Right Guys??? “Apparently we kind of got in trouble”… But we did Not… They asked for art, and Are Getting a Pretty Amazing unique Contemporary Glass Piece, To add to their collection, In collaboration with Ciro Abath, Mr Terafuse… I’m going to label it after work today… And Sign in to our name so we can deliver it… The Sponsor didn’t make it the opening night… I supposed it’d be nice if we get to host him at a Closing Expo,… It’s all Soooooo Worth it,… And he does deserve to get his Gift with a Bang,… Once again Elvis did it,… Ateliers ’89 is a very important place for culture & Education, Folks,… I hope The Big Ones who should realize that do So, and do keep on pushing it,… Elvis Deserves it,… But Aruba too,… Deserves Ateliers ’89… It’s a monument, man… One that I know like “mi plant’I man”… To Nicole, Shantrelle & Holly & Annalee,… Thank You all a Bunch.. It was sooo worth it, and soo beautiful indeed… To everybody that made it happen, Thank You all a bunch… And to those who came, It’s an honor & a pleasure to have had shared this with all of you… And Those who didn’t make it yet? Ta KI BO TA WARDA ANTO,..!?!?!?
Salu2…

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About Germille Geerman:

Germille German is an emerging visual artist and writer from Aruba. Born in 1988 he started using film at the age of 15 working for the local ATV station. He has travelled widely, and started formal training at the Ateliers ’89 under Elvis Lopez in 2009. He started freelancing at the age of 20 and is looking for his next great destination.

CARIBBEAN LINKED II is a residency programme and exhibition organized by Ateliers ’89 Foundation in collaboration with ARC Inc. and The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. and funded by the Mondriaan Foundation. The programme took place from August 25th through September 6th, 2013 in Oranjestad, Aruba.

Caribbean Linked II Exhibition Review: Germille Geerman

Aruban artist Germille Geerman presents ‘True Beauty of Imperfection’, his account of the Caribbean Linked II residency programme at Ateliers ’89, Aruba. Geerman writes an insider’s review of the residency’s closing exhibition, interspersed with personal anecdotes about his fellow artists. He shows not only the diversity of the work, but also the dynamics between the residents and the bonds they formed throughout this shared experience.

Germille Geerman, participating artist in Caribbean Linked II

True Beauty of Imperfection

It’s 9:06am, I woke up on the porno couch… rays of sun in my face… silhouettes of the watapana tree, playing on my body… I’m hungover…

Mark wasn’t there to say goodbye… and apparently all the girls went off too… by now their plane should be leaving at any moment. It’s the morning after the Expo… Yesterday… Well… It was magical… It was all perfectly aligned for excellence… And that was it indeed. On the dot, to the point of perfection.

A couple of nights without sleeping, but the energy… The LIFE…? Well, you should have been there to live it. 10 Young Artists, Elvis, 3 curators, a great Bunch of Aruban contemporary artists mentoring us through the Journey. A whole gang of mimes starting off the Grand Opening… What a Performance it was… Chills down your spine as they come to you and look you in the eye… You’ll get the “kippevell” once you blend in and become a part of this extraordinarily supernatural stroll… Everything black & white, Graffiti everywhere… even on the donation box…

Veronica Dorsett. From the Focus Series. Images courtesy of Omar Kuwas

Veronica Dorsett. From the Focus Series. Images courtesy of Omar Kuwas.

As you walk in, you bump into Veronica’s installation, a tremendous piece… circles & lines… Actual lines, in your face… Uber Multi-Dimensional. And off course her artwork… Gorgeous collages, carefully mounted… every night she worked till 8 or so in the morning… I was there… I saw it with my own eyes… So you better believe it.

Now we wander off to Sofia’s space… “Mi Chilindrina,” only I get to call her that… Flawless brushstrokes watered down. Around that, she made a gallery, so everybody can feel what it’s like to be in that chair and see the world through her eyes… With a combination of vibrant lime green/white and whatever magic that sticks in between.  Sofia is a tremendous street artist from Puerto Rico Living in New York… Don’t believe me? Go ask El Residente, I dare you…
Sofia did some “mental-pictures” of our Journey, the nightlife, the Ateliers, her own thoughts & compositions all organically, by hand… All neonic-fine on the line… all square framed…

Sofia Maldonado's Tropical Studio. Photographs courtesy of Omar Kuwas.

Sofia Maldonado’s Tropical Studio. Photographs courtesy of Omar Kuwas.

Our momentas… There is one missing, though. Her ode to our Carubbian night. Well, That’s a group secret I suppose, and it stays between us, the fortunate few, forever in our hearts… The Dutch call that “Een onder-onsje.”

Now we wander off to Robin, an Ateliers ’89 Prodigy… She just finished Rietveld… Her cookie is sculptures; She did a minimalistic (yet larger than life) piece. Our circular auras & reach, is what I call it. Can’t remember its name though… Then we have “A pet a day keeps the doctor away…” And right next to it, we have the giant plaster… You won’t believe this story if I told you…

A Pet A Day Keeps the Doctor Away. Mixed Media Installation by Robin de Vogel

A Pet A Day Keeps the Doctor Away. Mixed Media Installation by Robin de Vogel

Well, here goes anyways…

Her original mold was clay, installed on the inner stage in the Yard of the Ateliers… This goes back a couple of days ago… It rained… Cats, dogs, pimps & Hoes… The cover couldn’t save the piece… She had to remake it again… in one of the studio spaces… This Type of work.. You need your privacy, it’s a very intimate process.

Robin and the resident artists helping with production of the mold for her installation.

Robin and the resident artists helping with production of the mold for her installation.

But wait… It now has to be Transported to the Expo area… In Papiamento we say: “Ey ta unda e rabo di porco ta Krull…” I, by accident dropped in when they were transporting it… “Paar di sak’I webo puñete,” A bunch of guys watching a young lady fighting her way with this monumental heavy piece…
But we did it… And the end Result, turned out to be glorious in all its depth…

As we follow to the next room, to the right hand we find The Flexible Man Installation… By Dhiradj. A Tremendous collection of 4 full body suits… Yes full body, I wore one… Do you see the dancing Flexibleman that gets beaten up by the dominant FlexibleLady in his film? Yes, From Head to Toe… Filled with a rare collection of all sorts of textiles… From all over the world… And what an Honor it was to feel the presence of the Flexiblemen Wandering around the expo sharing the joy and illustriousness.

Dhiradj Ramsamoedj's Flexible Man Performance on the opening night of Caribbean Linked II.

Dhiradj Ramsamoedj’s Flexible Man Performance on the opening night of Caribbean Linked II.

To The Left… Rodell’s Kaleidoscopic Paradise…

For the last week, Rodell has made a High Reliefic Backdrop Filled with Patterns and somehow All the Patterns connect back through each other… But that Wasn’t enough… To Make it more Irie he had to “leave it be, all crumpilly…” So he mashed it all up together, and on that, he Projects his Massive archive of kaleidoscopes which at the end did create this altered state of being and a Divine Auratic Composition of one’s being and Form.

He should GIF them though… Well At least I hope he’ll do it, anytime in the near future… The Follow-up, I hope… 😉

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Kevin Schuit collaborates with Rodell Warner to produce images for ‘First Light’.

Next Room: The walls are black… and you start to see 2 Massive abstract photographs… Oui, Oui… We bounce off to Shirley… People look at “pictures” and they go like… It’s nice…
Baby… That ain’t nice… That’s ACID, right there… Real Acid… Chemistry… Mushroom Clouds when stuff goes Wrong… A Life Threatening Procedure… “just so you can look at the pictures…” Real danger, folks… Analog Photography… And Blasted up to that amazing life-size…
But the depth of the content… You’re gonna have to ask SHisHi, herself… That’s her Journey… Something only She can Describe…

Shirley Rufin photographic installation

Shirley Rufin photographic installation

Now we go to the left: Black & White Pictures..? WRONG..! Pinhole Photography… Nowadays, you set your smartphone camera to B&W and shoot anything, anywhere… Not this Guy… Omar’ll make a camera out of anything… cans, buckets or boxes… He shoots them… develops them, digitize them and blow them up to these great sizes… Such pictures take minimum 20 seconds to take, so sometimes in ends up being a cute/sharp still… But just Sometimes… It has these Amazing retrospective/nostalgic feel to it… Imagine that…

Omar Kuwas. Pinhole photography.

Omar Kuwas. Pinhole photography.

We keep on going to the left… It’s the King’s Corner… “son of diplo”

Mark Took all his time studying the intense History of Patterns, Ancient Stuff… Lot’s of stuff… And At the end he developed our Flag… Creation of a flag… It ain’t an easy task, folks… I’ve stood there… We even went out on field Studying Patterns found on Aruba… From leftover floor turned into a parking facility to the Archeological Museum, Fences & Architecture on the island… From All of this, He got Amazed with a block structure… A very common block on the island, yet specific… Used very, very wildly throughout our infrastructure… Well… He molded it… TWICE…

But we are not going to talk about that… We’re talking about the one who made it, and was gold plated and installed to be interacted with, as if it was a “draaitoll”…

And it’s platform? The design behind our flag… Right there on the ground, like a board game. So, it’s not a board game… It’s a TileGame… Developed by M.K. ’13…

Mark King’s Installation with breeze block configuration and project flag.

Mark King’s Installation with breeze block configuration and project flag.

Listen… Close your eyes…
There’s a sound here, that don’t belong…
But there are no more rooms… except the restroom…

In the wall, there is a glitch… Kind of looks Like a frame of a door… But Blinded… Or is it? It must be… But there’s a sound behind it… As you go closer, It kind of seems that there’s a cold breeze coming from somewhere… And as you dare… You realize, that it’s not a door, it’s not blinded… But, It’s a curtain… The whole expo was warm… Finally, air conditioning… Believe you, me… You jump in whether you want to or not… Welcome to the Pedestal… It’s a polaroid… But a Huge one, a motion one… Hanging on the wall… And it’s all dark… There’s a pillar, a gorgeous one, “E Pedestal…” And a load of money raining down… And on top of the Pedestal, You see the face of a man… Is it the young version of the monopoly man? His rebel version maybe? Or is he just a common man… The common man, Fascinated by money, or maybe Frustrated by money, All that money comes with and in between… You can see his lips moving, but you can’t hear a word he is saying… But you wanna…
Ohhh, All the possibilities… Point being, at the End… When you want it to Rain… You do the RainDance… When you want money, You Go to the Pedestal…

Germille Geerman’s Pedestal. Image courtesy of Nicole Smythe-Johnson.

Germille Geerman’s Pedestal. Image courtesy of Nicole Smythe-Johnson.

Take five, right?
Yeah, Let’s grab a wine by the bar… Red or white, You decide… Greet some people, have a laugh, share some thoughts with our visitors, Talking to them, How’ve they been, how’d they like it so far… Smiling with the DJ, enjoying the Grooves… Bust a move… Letting loose… You know..? Then we see, There’s another door open on the other side… All white inside… Something Must be Going On… Ohhh, but there is…

It’s Kevin’s area… Our Other Prodigy, just graduated also from the Rietveld, yet he cannot be with us tonight… As we speak, he’s receiving his YOUNGBLOOD award in HOLLAND, he had to leave yesterday… But what can we say… the Man’s in his Prime at the moment… We are happy for him…

Kevin Schuit's installation for Caribbean Linked II. Photo courtesy Omar Kuwas.

Kevin Schuit’s installation for Caribbean Linked II. Photo courtesy Omar Kuwas.

It’s the last stop… To get there you must walk amongst the party, the whole gathering, sitting areas and everything… But you do get there eventually… I was drunk that night, by the way…  So don’t ask me the names… But as we walk in, we look on top, Floating Piles of DriftJunk… Rubbles… But from an angle as if you were standing at the bottom of the ocean looking at them, wondering when your next breath shall be… And the Northcoast ain’t no easy coast… So, from that angle, You’re probably in a Flush… Trying to get back up… I know… I’ve been there too…

Wash off those piles on to our flawless beaches here… So I suppose they ain’t so flawless anymore… Thank’s allot, waterjunk.. Pollution everywhere…

Transporting the boulder for Kevin Schuit's installation. Photo courtesy Omar Kuwas.

Transporting the boulder for Kevin Schuit’s installation. Photo courtesy Omar Kuwas.

Now to his Masterpiece… The Travelling Rock… Yes, Rock… Boulder, as big as a beanbag chair… But, heavy, I tell you… The Bronco took us through hell & back to get it… Ask Mark… We still have the scars to prove it… But yes… Rock on wheels, Rocking On… You can drive it, if you want… It’s right there… Kevin loves rocks… They are powerful and transmit energy, he always says…

Well Folks, This was it… I Hope You’ve enjoyed the ride… Until Next year… See You At the next Caribbean Linked… In whatever corner of the world that we shall be… With lots of Love…

The Ateliers ’89…

BIBA ARTE..!!! 😉

Kevin Schuit's installation for Caribbean Linked II. Photo courtesy Sofia Maldonado.

Kevin Schuit’s installation for Caribbean Linked II. Photo courtesy Sofia Maldonado.

About Germille Geerman:

Germille German is an emerging visual artist and writer from Aruba. Born in 1988 he started using film at the age of 15 working for the local ATV station. He has travelled widely, and started formal training at the Ateliers ’89 under Elvis Lopez in 2009. He started freelancing at the age of 20 and is looking for his next great destination.

CARIBBEAN LINKED II is a residency programme and exhibition organized by Ateliers ’89 Foundation in collaboration with ARC Inc. and The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. and funded by the Mondriaan Foundation. The programme took place from August 25th through September 6th, 2013 in Oranjestad, Aruba.

Caribbean Linked II Artist Blogs: Shirley Rufin

Martinican artist Shirley Rufin shares her blog post about the Caribbean Linked II residency programme at Ateliers ’89, Aruba. Rufin refers to the experience as one of discovery, finding similarity between her new space and her home country while also reveling in the differences. She harnessed this idea of making new connections and linkages in her work – stemming from interactions with her fellow artists and taking inspiration from the Aruban landscape, her final pieces for exhibition interweave organic elements from nature to recreate the human figure.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Shirley Rufin- New works created for Caribbean Linked II. From the series MartinAruba.

Shirley Rufin – New works created for Caribbean Linked II. From the series MartinAruba.

Caribbean Linked II was a beautiful experience full of meetings, good moments, laughter, dance and especially complicities and creation. The two weeks spent on the island of Aruba at the Ateliers ’89 studios were two weeks of madness and pure happiness. This opportunity allowed me to meet Elvis Lopez, the director of the Ateliers ‘89 and an artist, but before any of that a magnificent person full of kindness. I also had the opportunity to meet local contemporary artists; Nelson Gonzalez, Ciro Abath and his wife, Glenda Heyliger, Osaira Muyale, Ryan Oduber and Alydia Wever, and within that the great gift to also connect with nine very talented artists who splendidly represent their countries and media.

The stay on “One Happy Island” was very enriching because this island is very familiar and close to Martinique due to its climate and population, but still very different in its weather, vegetation, customs and especially the language. I was the French artist of the group, and as I discovered the space, I was able to let go of what I know and remembered to learn to see everything with a new eye full of curiosity.

The day after we arrived we were able to preview a retrospective of Elvis Lopez titled “ISLA” and Nelson Gonzales’ “Identity Pill’ which placed us directly in a bathing pool of curiosity and creation. During our walks exploring the capital of Oranjestad I was able to discover this new place together with Sofia aka Miss Porto Rico, Mark aka Mister Barbados, Rodell aka Mister Trinidad and Tobago, Omar aka Mister Curacao aka Shaggy, and Veronica aka Miss Bahamas aka Scooby. This allowed me to see things which inspired and pleased me. Later that day we welcomed the arrival of Dhiradj aka Mister Suriname, Robin aka Miss Aruba, and finally Germille and Kevin aka Misters Aruba. This led to the completion of the artsts who would comprise the meetings and discovery which is crucial for human and artistic connection on every level. Each of us knew how to encourage and support himself/herself by being interested in the work of each other. The sharing of long breakfasts and lunches, along with improvised dinners and dance parties, solified the connection and provided an outline of the mode of life for each artist.

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On our first Thursday we visited the carnival of San Nicolaas and the nightclub run by Bushi. Thanks to Glenda who accompanied us, we were able to have unforgettable moments of laughter with her dance moves amplifying the night. It was a real pleasure to be able to share points of view and ideas with each of the artists present during this residency.

To represent my entire stay I decided to make a proposal motivated by this notion of connection, and what to me was the strongest visual connection; the island’s bare trees that are full of branches that move and twist in every sense and direction. The words creation, link, connection, representation, tree, life, interaction, resemblance, difference, contribution, opportunity, meeting, culture, expansion and many others allowed me to concentrate on a photographic proposal which consisted of four images presenting something organic with fragments of nature ordered to recreate a human figure.  The roots used evoke the notion of earth and ground, of implanting and relation in a certain place.

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I wanted to work with the on-the-spot and present elements and within the supporting media, but some challenges came into play and I was aware of some uncertainties with editions, but the end result was very enriching and rewarding. This kind of working was governed by the cohesion of the group and with the collective inspiration and support that everyone lent. With this capacity of emulation I realized that it was something that it is necessary to maintain and to keep forever in order to rise to higher levels in my creative process and to progress.

Shirley Rufin - New works created for Caribbean Linked II. From the series MartinAruba.

Shirley Rufin – New works created for Caribbean Linked II. From the series MartinAruba.

About Shirley Rufin:

Shirley Rufin is an emerging plastic artist from Martinique. She was born in Paris in 1985 and lives and works in Fort de France, Martinique. Her primary medium is photography, which she utilizes to question the body’s relation to abstraction in ways that offer a reconfigured look at female representation.

CARIBBEAN LINKED II is a residency programme and exhibition organized by Ateliers ’89 Foundation in collaboration with ARC Inc. and The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. and funded by the Mondriaan Foundation. The programme took place from August 25th through September 6th, 2013 in Oranjestad, Aruba.

Caribbean Linked II Artist Blogs: Kevin Schuit

Aruban artist Kevin Schuit writes about his time during the Caribbean Linked II residency programme at Ateliers ’89, Aruba. Schuit reflects on certain coincidences he has noticed since embarking on the residency, some through interactions with his fellow participants, and the impact a studio visit with local artist Osaira Muyale had on his self awareness around these occurrences. He believes that even coincidences are selective on some level in art, and connects certain coincidences in the Caribbean to our shared cultural experiences..

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Kevin Schuit’s installation for Caribbean Linked II. Image courtesy of ARC Magazine

Breeze blocks. Fractals. Tool. California. Conundrum. Dog skulls. Chinese invasion. Roots. Mothers. Conspiracy. Punk rock. Jazz. Skateboarding. Friday Lopez. Ateliers ’89. El Camino. Gloomy cat. Coincidence.

This combination of words may seem random to most people reading this. It would’ve been random to me too if I had read this prior to my flight from Amsterdam to Aruba for my residency at Caribbean Linked II. But since my flight I’ve been having a bunch of weird coincidences. My mind as the needle in a patchwork of thought.

I was already aware of my awareness, but it wasn’t until we went to visit Osaira Muyale’s ‘Studio O’ that I started thinking. She showed us a stop-motion video work of hers which included a vast collection of cars that had ’11’ somewhere on the license plate numbers. She told us that the number had a spiritual significance to her.

Later that night we went back to Ateliers ’89 and we were talking about the video and how as soon as one pays attention to something, one will encounter it more often. This is where my passive awareness turned into an active awareness.

All these crazy things started happening. I was intrigued by a gloomy cat walking around the premises. I took a picture of it as it passed through diagonal shadow stripes. That same night Rodell came up to me and said he saw this interesting cat. I showed him the picture and asked him if that was the same cat, and it was. Later I went to pose for some of his pictures, in which he projects abstract shapes and colors on my body. We looked at the pictures and there is the cat’s face on my chest.

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Image courtesy of the artist

I can go on and on. As I was writing this text Sofia came to me and made a joke about punk rock. I went outside to take a break from writing this text and spoke to Holly and she starts talking about China. And all of this after I wrote the first words of this blog post.

I could give a lot more examples of such incidents that happened during the residency, but I have to move on to the point I am trying to make.

I think coincidence is an important part about being an artist. When an artist picks something up, he does not do so without a reason. It’s what interests him. It’s what serves as a muse. When an artist is not actively working on a project, the pilot light in the brain is still on, subconsciously picking up all kinds of symbols and details that are related to the time and space the artist is in. This is why how coincidental something might seem, its still somewhat selective.

Relating all of this to the theme of Caribbean Linked II, it makes sense for me that I have been thinking about coincidence. The islands are living in some sort of synchronicity, being that we have the same cultural formula, only with the different cultures as ingredients. Things and thoughts wash ashore and the smaller the island, the bigger the part is of the inhabitants that share them.

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Kevin Schuit’s installation for Caribbean Linked II. Image courtesy of ARC Magazine

About Kevin Schuit:

Kevin Schuit was born in 1990 on Aruba, where he grew up. At the age of 16 he started taking art courses at Ateliers ’89. At 18 years old, he moved to Amsterdam to study audio/visual arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. During his study he found a unique way of combining his drumming with art. In 2013 he graduated from VAV with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts.

CARIBBEAN LINKED II is a residency programme and exhibition organized by Ateliers ’89 Foundation in collaboration with ARC Inc. and The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. and funded by the Mondriaan Foundation. The programme took place from August 25th through September 6th, 2013 in Oranjestad, Aruba.

Caribbean Linked II Artist Blogs: Omar Kuwas

Curaçaoan artist Omar Kuwas shares his experience with the Caribbean Linked II residency programme at Ateliers ’89, Aruba. He speaks about his misadventures leading up to his arrival in Aruba, and how his misfortune led to an unexpected form of bonding with his fellow resident artists. This led him to conclude that although each island in the Caribbean may take pride in their differences, there are some fundamental similarities which continue to ‘link’ us together.

All images courtesy of the artist.

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Traveling to Aruba for Caribbean Linked II would mark the second time I’ve traveled to the country. It is a trip that I’ve only done once before about three years ago despite having lived for more than 20 years on neighboring Curacao hardly 20 minutes away by plane. As such I was looking forward to the trip knowing that this time around I would have more time to explore the island; as last time I was here for barely three days.

This trip would also be both the first time that I participate in any kind of residency program and an exhibition supporting Caribbean works. I’m quite familiar with the workings of both, yet normally from the side of the facilitator being an employee of the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB) on Curacao.

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I knew from the get go that by extension of my line of work –analog pinhole photography– there would be some possibilities for things to go slightly askew based on what was planned. What I didn’t expect though, was for these deviations to start before I left Curacao. Due to a pretty interesting accumulation of unfortunate events, which included me forgetting my passport for the first time ever, and one of the local aviation companies going bankrupt the weekend before the North Sea Jazz Festival, one of the largest on the island and no mention of a check-in time anywhere on my ticket (or online for that matter), led to the loosing of my scheduled flight to Aruba.

A nice conversation with the company representative resulted in a rescheduled flight,  this was postponed to the last flight of the day as all of the earlier flights were fully booked with stranded travelers trying to get to their destinations and connecting flights.

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Taking this situation in good stride, I decided to make good use of my free day to relax, have a nice Colombian lunch, nap and dispatch of as many clay pigeons as I could find time for. All of which were welcomed activities after a couple of intense weeks rushing to have all my work done in time for Aruba, while also managing the projects that I would be absent for at the IBB as the new school year started on the 2nd of September. At the end of the laxed day I showed up on time with my passport and boarded a surprisingly short flight to Aruba for Caribbean Linked II.

Little did I know that my misadventures with air travel to Aruba wouldn’t be a unique experience. It marked the start of a whole lot of similarities between the different islands that we would figure out during our increasingly longer nightly “linkings”.

If there is one single thing that I will take away from this experience, it’s that while there is great diversity and much pride among the islands in the Caribbean for not being the same as each other, we are more alike than I’m afraid we will ever be comfortable admitting.

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About Omar Kuwas:

Born on June 28, 1985. Graduated in 2009 with a degree in Communication & Multimedia Design with minors in software engineering and photography from The Hague University of applied sciences in The Netherlands. Has been involved with ArteSwa and Instituto Buena Bista since 2007 and been working there full time doing IT, design and teaching (analog) photography since 2009.

CARIBBEAN LINKED II is a residency programme and exhibition organized by Ateliers ’89 Foundation in collaboration with ARC Inc. and The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. and funded by the Mondriaan Foundation. The programme takes place from August 25th through September 6th, 2013 in Oranjestad, Aruba.