Maj Hasager & Ask Kæreby – Week 2 Blog Post

Fresh Milk resident artists Maj Hasager and Ask Kæreby share the second blog post about their time in Barbados, outlining their busy week that saw them continuing to learn about the island through research in the Barbados National Archives and by traversing the physical landscape. Both artists also began their community outreach, which included Maj’s first session with BFA students at Barbados Community College and day one of Ask’s experimental sound workshops being held at Fresh Milk. Read more below:

The blessed rain pours down massively. After a dry wet season the plants, trees and animals feel energized and revitalized. Monday is spent in the studio and the rain creates a perfect soundscape on the metal roof, where the sound is intensifying and suddenly loosens its loud grip to make the wind and the surrounding sounds audible. The studio is quiet and we are planning the South Coast trip later in the week. Our plan is to see the majority of the island by local buses and it demands a bit of logistics, good walking shoes and some determination to make this happen – as time is a luxury that many visitors to the island seem short of. Insisting on taking our time is indeed in stark contrast to the past year of activities, and it is highly appreciated.

Annalee is waiting in her car outside the apartment – I (Maj) can hear her beeping and grab my things before closing the door behind me. We move down the hill towards Barbados Community College (BCC) where half an hour later I will give a lecture on my work to a group of students from the fine arts department. Hours later, I am enriched by the level of conversation and questions raised amongst the students, and I can’t wait for the next session where we will go more in depth in terms of a close reading of a text, and thinking through social practice together. As we are leaving the BCC, Annalee takes me to the top of the campus to show me an old derelict building – despite it falling apart you can sense the grandeur of the structure. She tells me that it is a former sugar plantation house and it sits fairly dislocated or perhaps amputated at the edge of campus. Here the generic campus buildings seem to be rejecting a contested past, and the neglect of the house (or perhaps its symbolic meaning of colonial power) seems to be a way to suppress a past by letting it dissolve slowly by time. Though perhaps forgetting, as Annalee mentions, that the first black Chief Justice on the island Sir Conrad Reeves lived in this house too.

History spills out of wooden drawers in the chilled archival hall of the Barbados National Archives where we arrive Wednesday morning. We are slowly chewing our way through archival documents – via neatly organized index cards in perfectly fitted drawers tracing migration movements after the emancipation in the 1830’s – in particular looking at the massive exodus of young Barbadian men leaving for work in Panama either constructing the railway or later digging the Panama Canal. We are following the trail of the “Panama money”, the encouragement – and later restriction ­– of migration, the riots in 1937 and the formation of trade unions. One thing leads to the next as the hours vanish in the archive. The archive itself is somehow stuck in the past, and the sounds of heavy books being dropped on tables echo in the vast space. At 4 pm the archive is slowly shutting down, and we leave the air-conditioned hall with a chill. Outside the archive at 4 pm on the dot, the art historian Therese Hadchity picks us up. She left Denmark 25 years ago, and we spend hours over coffee discussing contemporary art in the Caribbean, social practice and the potential pitfalls of this type of practice – to mention a few of the many topics covered over three hours in good company – definitely a conversation to be continued.

Thursday morning begins with some more work on the hydrophone (underwater microphone) – Ask is still attempting to secure the cable so water is kept out when immersed. Thanks to the Colleen Lewis Soldering Iron, Annalee’s extended family and local hardware and music stores, an improvised solution begins to materialise. The plan is to test it over the weekend when we are walking along the South Coast. Thursday is also the first session of the sound workshop that Ask is teaching. Six people turn up at Fresh Milk for the first dose of soundscape recording and composition – some have a bit of a shell shock. It is a rocky ride through Musique concrète, Pierre Schaeffer, soundscape, acoustic ecology, Murray Schafer and the physics and technology behind it all. As the dust settles, questions arise and a most interesting debate takes form – I am very much looking forward to the continuation.

We head out early Friday morning, and as we leave the apartment at dawn, Annalee’s lovely father offers us a ride to St. Lawrence Gap at the South Coast, and thereby cuts our journey shorter by an hour or more. St. Lawrence Gap is the first place where we immerse the hydrophone fully in seawater, and thank goodness it is water proof despite its very homemade look. Maj has volunteered to be the assistant in the sea (what a dreadful task) and Ask is at shore with the recorder and headphones. Suddenly sounds of sand on the sea bottom are coming through and it is very exciting. The recordings continue throughout the weekend in different locations and both in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

We end the weekend trip at the Good Life Café near Accra Beach, where we meet the multitalented artist Mark King, who quickly turns out to be a stimulating conversation on both art and global politics.

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DanishArtsFound_LOGO_CMYK

This residency is supported in part by the Danish Arts Foundation

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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DanishArtsFound_LOGO_CMYK

This residency is supported in part by the Danish Arts Foundation

Fresh Milk welcomes Maj Hasager and Ask Kæreby to the platform

From November 1 – 27, 2015, Fresh Milk is pleased to welcome Danish artists Maj Hasager and Ask Kæreby as our next artists in residence.

Maj, an artist, and Ask, an electronic composer, will spend their month undertaking a research residency in Barbados, engaging with the local arts and music community to explore ways of thinking about materials and practices through conversations and workshops.

Maj will instigate discussions focusing on notions of praxis, materiality and the act of producing. There will be a mix of individual studio visits and workshops on practice, hybridity and oral history interview techniques as an artistic method.  Ask will conduct a series of experimental sound workshops, exploring sound as a medium of intrinsic value and its own source of information, using it as a way of aurally mapping our environment.

Portrait_Hasager_2015

About Maj:

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 studie foto

About Ask:

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.

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Fresh Milk’s first connection with the artists was made through our participation in a ResSupport fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude in 2014; to read a piece by Katherine Kennedy in conversation with Maj Hasager during this fellowship, click here.

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DanishArtsFound_LOGO_CMYK

This residency is supported in part by the Danish Arts Foundation

Sign-up for a sound workshop with upcoming resident artist Ask Kæreby

Danish composer and sound artist Ask Kæreby will be hosting a series of workshops around experimental ways of working with sound during his upcoming Fresh Milk residency in November, 2015.

Find out more about the programme below and email us at freshmilkbarbados@gmail.com to let us know if you are interested in attending, as space will be limited. More detailed information about the dates & times of the workshops will follow:  

sound flyer final

About the workshop:

What sounds are available for artistic expression and how can we approach them?

As a composer or musician it is very possible to take available instruments and their sounds for granted, as most have a heritage of hundreds of years, and many new are simply variations or emulations of earlier models. But what if we suspend “the usual suspects” for a while, and try to listen in a different way? What if we refrain from identifying a sound by its source, origin or processing, and instead try and describe what we hear by its own merits? If we open ourselves to the soundscape surrounding us, how can we appreciate this in a meaningful way, and can we communicate to others by means of our own soundscapes, composed or fabricated from field recordings?

In a number of workshops, we will focus on sound as a medium of intrinsic value and its own source of information. With inspiration from the World Soundscape Project from the 1970’s, we will begin an aural mapping of the environment, documenting the local soundscape via field recordings and discussing possible signature sounds or soundmarks. Using different types of transducers, we will investigate vibrations in different types of materials such as gasses, liquids and solids – thereby exploring different modes of perception and listening. These recordings will also function as the compositional base for experimental construction of sonic narratives, musical compounds or combinations thereof.

ask kaereby

Ask Kæreby

Artist Statement:

My artistic practice is interdisciplinary and research-based, involving experimental composition, sound design and electroacoustic music. I’m 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, thereby giving the listener a more subtle way of experiencing the essence of the work. By placing myself in the intersection between the known formats, I wish to challenge our ways of listening – to music (live as well as recorded), to our surroundings and to (sonic) art.

Since the days of Aristotle, narratives in art have been characterised by a “poetic” organising principle, which is both logically and aesthetically superior to the random historicity of factual events. The incorporation and processing of pieces of reality in the shape of sounds in forming an audible work, contains possibilities for combining and juxtaposing these two principles, which I find extremely interesting.

My projects begin with a longer period of research, where I collect factual and historical information and gather impressions and sounds from the area and/or subject. Particularly interesting ideological or technological methods may appear, and form the basis of my further compositional work.

Bio:

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.