Versia Harris’ Residency at the IBB, Curacao

Barbadian artist Versia Harris blogs about her residency at the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB) in Curacao, where she is taking part in their International Project Space programme for the month of October, 2013.

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My impression of The Instituto Buena Bista when I first walked through their offices, studios and expansive garden, was that it is a place that supports art experimentation of all kinds. Whether it is audio, video, photography, new media or mixed media, etc, they have rooms and equipment that make these things possible. Scattered everywhere is artwork, both finished and unfinished. The place immediately put me at ease and also made me excited about creating new work.

The IBB courtyard

The IBB courtyard

Most of the first week was just about settling in and getting familiar with Curacao life but by the end of it, I started to flesh out some of the  ideas rolling around in my head.

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The second week commenced my teaching at the Institute.  I opted to demonstrate to the students how I produce my animations so that they could then produce their own. Tutoring so many people is an entirely new experience that came with its ups and downs. On the one hand, most of them are quite receptive and have come up with some nice ideas of what to animate. On the other hand, students will be students. I found it difficult at first to deal with some of the excuses as to why they didn’t do this or that, the very late submissions or complete absences that kept me repeating myself. The experience is exciting and rewarding yet frustrating and exhausting, but it is something that I’m glad I got the opportunity to do.

Outside of my lessons some of the students and I have been discussing and exchanging ideas. I’ve started to toy with some live action video, something I have almost no experience in. It hasn’t gotten very far so I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but I’m looking forward to what the rest of the time reveals to me about this medium.

Video stills from Versia Harris' work in progress

To keep up with Versia’s progress, follow her blog at versiaabeda.tumblr.com

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.