Maj Hasager & Ask Kæreby – Week 4 Blog Post

Danish artists Maj Hasager and Ask Kæreby who undertook a residency at Fresh Milk during the month of November share their fourth blog post about a very busy final week in Barbados. The end of their trip included everything from research, sound recordings, a catamaran cruise, an exhibition opening, a workshop and our last public event for 2015, FRESH MILK XVIII. Read more about their packed last days below:

It seems now like a distant memory of being warm and sweaty night and day. We have returned to Copenhagen after a detour via London and Cologne, and suddenly the days are even shorter and the evenings and nights seem darker and colder. Winter in Copenhagen is a challenge. It always feels strange to have to reflect back on recent events when shifting location, and it sounds like a voiceover in my mind when trying to reconstruct the pieces and images that go with it.

Our fourth and final week begins in the library of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, which seems to have chosen cryonics as their method for preserving their material. Maj meets with historian Miguel Pena while Ask reads on the formation of workers’ unions and migration to the Canal Zone – until the chatter of his teeth becomes so disturbing that we leave to defrost in the tropical sun. Even this didn’t prepare us fully for the Danish winter though…

We also pay a visit to Government Information Service, located in an unassuming building in the outskirts of town, and seeming to operate with a landline and the phone book as the primary resources. They are the sole distributor of the documentary Diggers, which is the only locally accessible source of footage from the construction of the Panama Canal. As it’s right after lunch, and our contact person is not around, we meet and greet seemingly all employees in the office, as a prolonged discussion over the spelling of the title takes place until we finally leave with DVD and receipt in hand.

Tuesday afternoon we are picked up by a driver, who is struggling to find our location hidden away in the centre of the Island – we are in fact “out of range” according to his company’s definition, and it does feel that way sometimes, which seems curious in such a small place.

We take the hydrophone sailing off the west coast, capturing some wonderful eerie sounds when anchored or wind powered – though any engine active in the entire bay can be heard clearly. As the sun sets, the visual beauty of the surroundings rivals the sonic seascape.

On Wednesday morning Maj meets Annalee to have a studio visit on her work. Exciting conversations unfold before we head off to meet Allison Thompson, the director of the fine arts department at Barbados Community College (BCC), where exchanges on pedagogy, teaching methods and structures are shared. In the evening we are attending the opening of This Quagmire, an exhibition by Versia Harris at the Punch Creative Arena in the Morningside Gallery at BCC.

Wednesday is also the final session of the sound workshop, and everyone chips in with fascinating yet very different compositions. We are also busy preparing for FRESH MILK XXVIII, which is quite a packed evening with both of us presenting work, Maj in conversation with Therese Hadchity, and the Beyond Publishing collective presenting their activities as well.

A packed final week, that somehow sums up the intensity of a month’s residency at Fresh Milk. Our suitcases are loaded with reading material and textile works by Mark King when we leave Walkers in St. George. A huge thank you to the wonderful Fresh Milk team: Annalee Davis, Katherine Kennedy, Natalie McGuire and of course also Barbara and Vere Davis. One thing is for sure: We can’t wait to return.

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DanishArtsFound_LOGO_CMYK

This residency is supported in part by the Danish Arts Foundation

Immanuel Hunte shares his experience with Ask Kæreby’s experimental sound workshops

During the month of November, Fresh Milk resident artist Ask Kæreby held a series of three workshops looking at experimental ways of working with sound. One of the participants, Immanuel Hunte, wrote about his experience with the workshops, as well as sharing two of the pieces he created based on what was discussed in the sessions. Read more below:

I attended a 3 day workshop, which was held by Fresh Milk via their Artist Residency Programme. Ask Kæreby, a Danish composer and sound designer was the chief facilitator of this particular project, being that it was about sound and sound design. I have to say that in my opinion, even though only a few people attended the workshop, it was AWESOME. Ask helped me to open my eyes to how sound can be used in unconventional ways to express one’s self creatively.

Over the course of 3 days we looked at the technical aspects of sound and talked about the the artistic and philosophical aspects of it as well. During that time, I gained an understanding about sound and sound design; ie. that sound does not only come from musical instruments, or an orchestra, or notes and pitches. Sound is present in our everyday surroundings and in our everyday lives, whether it is natural ( eg. wind, water, trees, animals) or generated/man-made (eg. engines, machines, traffic, interaction of objects). To sum it all up, I was informally introduced to the world of sound art: Sound art is a contemporary art form in which sound (natural or artificial) is utilised as a medium or a form of expression. Sound art comprises of different elements that are often intertwined eg. audio media, electronic synthesizers, noise music, acoustic or psychoacoustic art, to name a few. Sound art tends to be experimental in that it gives the artist a chance to stretch his/her imagination. I got to learn about the people who were pioneers in this sound art movement, such as Luigi Russolo, who composed for noise machines (which he created) and had members of a London-based orchestra play them, …….which did NOT go down too well with the traditional audience! Russolo at that time wanted to escape the confines of what his generation called traditional music.

There was also Pierre Schaeffer, who was into experimental sound in the 1940s and developed musique concrète. We listened to one of his manipulated recordings of trains. My favourite part was learning about Delia Derbyshire, a woman who was instrumental in the early days of the BBC in London in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. She has been revered for being a pioneer in electronic music. This unique workshop consisted only of oscillators and various analogue machines. Music for radio and television was scored using only these machines, including sound effects. One famous example is her electronic rendition of Ron Grainer’s theme to Doctor Who, one of the first television themes to be created and produced by entirely electronic means.

Immanuel Hunte’s Soundscape

Also, during this time, the group was given assignments to record our environments, and to manipulate them in an artistic manner. The sounds I used were recordings of my toilet flushing, the washing machine, doors, a spray-can and my voice. Using what I learned in the workshop, plus my experience in making music on computers, I got some satisfyingly interesting results. I edited parts of the audio from my raw recordings and I applied some delay and reverb effects, as well as vocoder effects. The recordings were made using my phone, and the finishing touches were done in digital audio workstations called Propellerhead Reason and FL studio.

Immanuel Hunte’s Desert  Scape

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Thanks to all of those who participated in the sessions, including Annalee Davis, Adrian Green, Immanuel Hunte, Katherine Kennedy, Jesse Phillips, Melanie Springer and Andre Woodvine.

FRESH MILK XVIII Photos

Fresh Milk invites you to take a look at some photos from our recent public event FRESH MILK XVIII, which took place on Thursday, November 26, 2015.

The event featured Danish artists Maj Hasager and Ask Kæreby who were in residence at Fresh Milk for the month of November. Maj was in conversation about her recent publication Making Visible with Barbados-based curator Therese Hadchity, while Ask made a presentation about his work in experimental sound art and spoke about the workshops he conducted at Fresh Milk.

Also on the platform were members from local company Beyond Publishing, who spoke about self-publishing in the graphic novel industry in Barbados.

All photography is by Dondré Trotman.

 

Maj Hasager & Ask Kæreby – Week 3 Blog Post

Danish artists Maj Hasager and Ask Kæreby reflect on the third week of their Fresh Milk residency. They continued their public outreach programming and visiting each coast of the island to record the varying sounds of the ocean, as well as their investigation into the country’s complex history. Trips to loaded sites such as Gun Hill Signal Station and St. Nicholas Abbey raised questions not only about the island’s past, but how it is presented and reckoned with in contemporary society. Read more below:

Falling into the rhythm of spending a quiet Monday in the studio. Ask is giving an artist talk at Barbados Community College (BCC) today, and gets interesting questions in return. The quiet morning turns into an unrhythmical dance with different institutions in the Barbadian system. Nothing moves forward and I (Maj) am almost bursting with impatience. It seems like there is a lot of historical footage that is stuck in the back of government archives, and not accessible at all. Someone mentions over the phone that all the material prior to the independence in 1966 belongs to the British government, and every year the Barbadian government purchases some of its past… colonial powers apparently linger on when negotiating heritage.

Tuesday morning is Maj’s second teaching session at Barbados Community College (BCC) – a failed Internet connection at the college leads to an improvised session anchored in conversation and text on paper with a group of very engaged students. Connections are made between critique, history from below and individual praxes, and opening even more layers in the complexity of place, authorship and subjectivity. Tuesday evening is spent at Tiki Bar at Accra beach for a Fresh Milk lime, where artist Alicia Alleyne, Therese Hadchity, Annalee Davis, Katherine Kennedy, Natalie McGuire, Ask and Maj all meet – as well as director of the national trust Lennox Honychurch who comes by with his laptop to share his research on the Panama canal.

We can see one of the former signal stations in Barbados – named Gun Hill – from where we live. On a small hill top the red building seems far away. When we finally look at a map the distance is less than two km, and it becomes the morning walk up the steep hill – really appreciating the clouds’ mercy as we are making our way to the top. The view from the top is indeed splendid, and we have been told the Barbados National Trust is also trying to make use of the site for weddings and other special occasions, but we wonder who would want a backdrop such as this, which was built primarily to alert in case of more slave uprisings, two years after the 1816 revolt. Adding insult to injury, enslaved labour was also used during the construction of the signal station, and the British West India Regiments bought slaves to supplement their normal recruiting until 1807, when slave trade was abolished in the British Empire – though outside of the army, slavery itself was upheld until 1838.

The week slowly disappears – halfway through we visit more museums in Bridgetown, and Thursday Ask holds the second sound workshop, which adds to the layers of last weeks conversation. At dusk when we leave the studio at Fresh Milk. The colour palette of the landscape suddenly has similarities with old paintings of the Danish landscape. An odd sense of overlapping moments and time appears as the daylight fades.

The bus route 1A seems to have vanished into thin air, forcing us to reshuffle our tightly packed daytrip schedule on Friday. After 3 hours of rumbling we reach the north most part of the island and visit the beautiful site of Animal Flower Cave, named after the sea anemones that live there. It’s still quiet so we get a personal tour of the area from Don – including a climb down (and back up) the cliffs to immerse the hydrophone, which we later take out in the waters of the West Coast, completing its travel to the four corners of this microcosm.

It is noon and the sun is merciless as we are waiting for the bus in an attempt to find alternative routes to reach the old sugar plantation of St. Nicholas Abbey in the parish of St. Peter – which is rumoured to present a somewhat controversial interpretation of colonial history. The bus never shows up, but instead a kind person is offering us a ride back to Speightstown. It turns out that the driver is the artist Victor Collector, who is known for his realist landscape paintings of Barbados. Somehow he has been documenting the changes of the Bajan Landscape over the past twenty years, and on our way back to the city he stops along the way to describe the changes in the landscape, and how it looked when he painted different sites. He leaves us in Speightstown, and we manage to get across to St. Nicholas Abbey just in time to get a tour of the house. Almost through the tour, we are both baffled by the fact that there hardly is any mention of slavery.

When we raise it with the owner who happens to suddenly appear, he dismisses the lack of addressing slavery in their official tour by saying the world is built on exploitation, and that he is the descendant of white indentured labour in Barbados. Our claim is then why not take this as the point of departure to discuss the conflicted and colonial history, instead of whitewashing the present by only describing the architecture and current production, relegating any mention of slavery to witty subtleties from the tour guides? The film claimed to demonstrate the history of the plantation is a 1935 home video, with a voice over from 2000 that is so completely devoid of any sensitivity towards the past or the present, let alone empathy, that we are left dazed and frustrated from the deadpan voice, worthy of an auctioneer at a fish market.

We walk across the fields of the sugar plantation as the daylight fades – to catch another bus to continue our journey.

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DanishArtsFound_LOGO_CMYK

This residency is supported in part by the Danish Arts Foundation

FRESH MILK XVIII

FRESH MILK XVIII_Flyer

The Fresh Milk Art Platform is pleased to present FRESH MILK XVIII, taking place on Thursday, November 26, 2015 from 6-9 pm. The event will feature Danish artists Maj Hasager and Ask Kæreby who are in residence at Fresh Milk for the month of November. Maj will be in conversation about her recent publication Making Visible with Barbados-based curator Therese Hadchity, while Ask will make a presentation about his work in experimental sound art and speak about the workshops he has been conducting at Fresh Milk.

Also on the platform will be members from local company Beyond Publishing, who will be speaking about self-publishing in the graphic novel industry in Barbados.

This event is free and open to the public. Limited numbers of Making Visible will be on sale, as well as graphic novels and t-shirts by Beyond Publishing.

Directions to Fresh Milk can be found on the About Page of our website here.

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About the featured speakers:

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Maj Hasager

Maj Hasager is a Danish artist and filmmaker based in Copenhagen, Denmark. She studied photography and fine art in Denmark, Sweden and the UK, earning an MFA from Malmö Art Academy, Sweden. Her work deals with power structures, identity, memory, the construction of history, and architecture, looking at how these interlinked phenomena are interpreted and represented culturally and spatially. Her artistic approach is research-based and interdisciplinary, and she works predominantly with text, sound, video and photography. The recent years Hasager has used oral history interview techniques as a method for accumulating information relating to personal stories, a site, and historical or political matters. It allows the material to unfold itself through different voices and from different perspectives and functions as a way of mapping an area or a context. Often these interviews lay the ground for the way she makes use of narrative forms and fictional writing as a tool to address personal stories in the context of socio-political matters.

She has exhibited her work internationally in events and institutions such as; Society Acts, Moderna Museet Malmö (2014), A voice of ones own, Malmö Konstmuseum (2014), Community works, Cleveland Institute of Art, 2014; Past Upon Past, Red Barn Photo Gallery, Belfast, Ireland (2013), Decembers, LAZNIA Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdańsk, Poland (2012), Liverpool Biennial, UK (2010). She has been awarded grants in support of her work from the Danish ArtsCouncil, The Danish Arts Foundation, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (Beirut, Lebanon), ArtSchool Palestine, Danish Centre for Culture and Development and the Danish Arts Agency. She is the programme director of Critical and Pedagogical studies at Malmö Art Academy, and is a guest lecturer at the International Academy of Art – Palestine, Dar al-Kalima College, Bethlehem and University of Ulster, Belfast.

Ask Kæreby

Ask Kæreby

Ask Kæreby is a Danish composer. He studied music production in Copenhagen, earning a MMus degree from The Royal Danish Academy of Music.

Kæreby’s artistic practice is interdisciplinary and research-based, including elements of experimental composition, sound design and electroacoustic music. He is interested in the presentation of narratives by means of sound – not through traditional musical gestures, but using different approaches such as musique concrète or the futurists’ bruitism. Working in the intersection between known formats, Kæreby wishes to challenge our ways of listening – to music (live as well as recorded), to our surroundings and to (sonic) art.

He has been awarded grants in support of his work from The Danish Arts Foundation, Danish Musicians’ Union, Wilhelm Hansen Foundation, Familien Hede Nielsen Foundation, Dansk Artist Association, Ellen & Erik Valdemar Jensen Music Grant, Anders Månsson & wife Memorial Grant and Karen Margrethe Torp-Pedersen & husband Foundation.

Therese Hadchity

Therese Hadchity

Therese Hadchity is an independent art critic, curator and teacher based in Barbados. She was the owner/curator of the Zemicon Gallery in Bridgetown from 2000-2010. She has authored numerous catalogue-essays on Barbadian art and artists, including Ras Akyem Ramsay, Ras Ishi Butcher, Nick Whittle, Winston Kellman, Ewan Atkinson, Alison Chapman-Andrews and Eric Belgrave. Her current research-interest is in the impact of the transition from anti-colonial nationalism to post-colonial anti-nationalism on visual arts conversations in the Anglophone Caribbean.

beyond publishing caribbean logo-01

Beyond Publishing

For many people a comic book or graphic novel was one of the first fun, casual reading experiences, filled with various themes of heroics, bravado and thrill. They provide an imaginative escape from reality and may reinforce or shape cultural values through various themes.

Comics and animation have mostly been imported into the region, and as a result we have rarely seen the Caribbean experience or our own identity in this format. Although the group is relatively new, Beyond Publishing has made promising strides and has published 7 individual titles to date.

Beyond Publishing focuses on comics and graphic novels in digital or print media, showcasing stories with a Barbadian or Caribbean flavour through several genres: comedy, adventure, education and drama.

beyond publishing group

Beyond Publishing has won the following awards for their work:

  • 3rd place in 2012’s Automotive Arts Entrepreneurship Competition;
  • The series ‘Life and Death in Paradise’ has won two prizes from the Caribbean Advertising Federation Addy Awards: The Judges’ choice for WOW and a Gold Addy for Publication Design (Magazine or Book);
  • Offset #1 has won a 2015 Gold Addy for Publication Design (Magazine or Book) from the Caribbean Advertising Federation Addy Awards as well as a 2015 Glyph Award for Best Cover;
  • Hardears #1  has won two prizes from the Caribbean Advertising Federation Addy Awards: a Gold Addy for Book Design and another Gold Addy for Illustration.