FRESH MILK XVI: Book Launch and Conversation for ‘See Me Here’

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The Fresh Milk Art Platform is pleased to invite you to our last public event before our summer break, FRESH MILK XVI – the Barbados book launch for Robert & Christopher Publishers’ (R&C) latest title, See Mere Here: A Survey of Contemporary Self-Portraits from the Caribbean, edited by Melanie Archer and Mariel Brown. The event will feature a small exhibition and panel discussion with the Barbadian artists featured in the publication – Ewan Atkinson, Annalee Davis, Joscelyn Gardner and Sheena Rose – and editor Melanie Archer, moderated by Barbadian artist Russell Watson.

See Me Here will be available for purchase at Fresh Milk on the night of the launch at a discounted price of $100 BBD, and thereafter at $110 BBD. The book has also been added to the collection in the on-site Colleen Lewis Reading Room (CLRR). In the spirit of celebrating this ever expanding archive of beautiful and critical publications, there will also be a short presentation on our new initiative Fresh Milk Books, introducing the team and sharing ways in which the public can get involved with this space for the interactive exploration of the CLRR.

FRESH MILK XVI takes place Thursday, June 26, 2014 from 6:30-8:00 pm at the Fresh Milk Studio, St. George (directions can be found here) and is free and open to the public.

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About See Me Here

See Me Here is the second book in R&C’s thematic explorations of contemporary art in the Caribbean – it follows the imprint’s successful first title, Pictures from Paradise (2012), which was picked up for distribution by North America’s most prestigious art book distributor, and is also being made into a major exhibition in Toronto, Canada, in May.

See Me Here calls attention to recent directions in self portraiture throughout the region, by focusing on artists who frequently or significantly use their physical selves, or those to whom they are linked by blood or significant experience, as an avenue for exploration and expression. In so doing, the book asks: How do we really see ourselves? How accurate is the image we present? What formative roles do our cultures and upbringings play? And, what role does the Caribbean as a physical and mental space have in the creation and perception of our own personal, visual identities?

Edited by Melanie Archer and Mariel Brown, See Me Here features a critical essay by Marsha Pearce, and more than 380 images from 25 artists. These works range across a variety of media, from drawing and painting to photography, sculpture, installation and performance. Eleven of these artists – Akuzuru, Ashraph, Susan Dayal, Michelle Isava, Jaime Lee Loy, Che Lovelace, Joshua Lue Chee Kong, Steve Ouditt, Irénée Shaw, Roberta Stoddart and Dave Williams – are from or are based in Trinidad & Tobago. The book’s other artists – Ewan Atkinson, James Cooper, John Cox, Renee Cox, Annalee Davis, Laura Facey, Joscelyn Gardner, Lawrence Graham-Brown, Anna Ruth Henriques, Nadia Huggins, O’Neil Lawrence, Olivia McGilchrist, Sheena Rose, and Stacey Tyrell – are either based in the Caribbean or have ties to the region, which are addressed through their works selected for the book.

About the Presenting Artists

 

Ewan Atkinson:

Ewan Atkinson was born in Barbados in 1975. He received a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art and an MA in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill.  He has exhibited in regional and international exhibitions including the 2010 Liverpool Biennial, “Wrestling with the image: Caribbean Interventions” at the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington DC, and “Infinite Islands” at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

Atkinson is the coordinator of the BFA in studio art at the Barbados Community College where he co-founded the Punch Creative Arena, an initiative for creative action based in the college gallery. An arts educator for over a decade, he is also on the executive board of Fresh Milk, a Caribbean non-profit, artist-led, creative support organization. Atkinson also works as a freelance illustrator and designer.

Annalee Davis:

Annalee Davis is a Visual Artist living and working in Barbados. She has been exhibiting her work regionally and internationally since 1989. She works part-time as a tutor in the BFA programme at the Barbados Community College.

Her explorations of home, longing and belonging question parameters that define who belong (and who doesn’t) in contemporary Caribbean society, exposing tensions within the larger context of a post-colonial history while observing the nature of post-independent (failing?) Caribbean nation-states.

In 2011, Annalee founded and now directs the artist-led initiative The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. An experiment, a cultural lab and an act of resistance, Fresh Milk supports excellence among contemporary creatives in the Caribbean, its diaspora and internationally.

 

Joscelyn Gardner:

Joscelyn Gardner was born in Barbados and lived there until 2000 when she moved to Canada. She now teaches Fine Art at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, and works as an artist between Canada and the Caribbean. She holds an MFA degree from the University of Western Ontario and her work has been exhibited widely in solo exhibitions in the USA, Canada, Spain, and the Caribbean, and in numerous international exhibitions including the Sao Paulo Biennials and major European and Latin American printmaking biennials.

Recent awards include the Biennial Grand Prize at the 7th International Contemporary Printmaking Biennial in Quebec (2011), awards at the Open Studio National Printmaking Awards (Toronto, 2012) and the 22nd Maximo Ramos International Biennial Award for Graphic Arts (Spain, 2012), and a Canada Council for the Arts grant for a major research project in the UK (2013). Gardner’s work is found in many public and private collections and can be viewed on her website.

Sheena Rose:

Born in 1985, Sheena Rose has a BFA from the Barbados Community College. Rose’s work is comprised of hand drawn animation combined with photographs, mixed media, transfers and comic strips. The animations have a surreal quality and deal with daily life, space and the stereotype of her country.

Rose has exhibited extensively, both regionally and internationally. Her work has been shown at Real Art Ways, Hartford Connecticut, Queens Museum, New York, Uitnodiging Amsterdam, Holland, Havana Biennial, Cuba, ACIA, Madrid, Spain, Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C, Greatmore Art Studios, Cape Town, SA, International Curator Forum, Bristol, England, CMAC, Martinique, Museo de Arte, Contemporaneo de Puerto, Puerto Rico, Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft, Kentucky, US, Aruba Biennial, Aruba, Panama Biennial del Sur, Panama and Alice Yard, Port of Spain, Trinidad.

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About Robert & Christopher Publishers

Robert & Christopher Publishers (R&C) is a Trinidad-based art book imprint. R&C’s primary concern in its art series is to produce quality books that document and elucidate our Caribbean story, as seen through the eyes of Caribbean artists. R&C aims to produce the highest quality of relevant art books that will be accessible to a wide reading and creative audience in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and internationally.

Robert & Christopher’s mission is to help open up critical dialogue for and amongst Caribbean people, and to explore and record the work of regional artists from a local perspective. By keeping a low price point on all their titles, R&C aims to create go-to texts that are accessible to artists, students of art, art lovers, and critics within the region. And, by maintaining high intellectual and production standards, R&C aims to appeal to international art and publishing markets.

In addition to See Me Here, Robert & Christopher has also published: Pictures from Paradise: A Survey of Contemporary Caribbean Photography, Che Lovelace: Paintings 2004 – 2008, Meiling: Fashion Designer and Barbara Jardine: Goldsmith.

A Review of FRESH MILK XIV

Art historian and writer Jessica Taylor reviews Fresh Milk’s last event, FRESH MILK XIV, which took place March 20, 2014 at The Milking Parlour Studio.

Photographs by Dondré Trotman.

Chief curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Tobias Ostrander, giving his presentation. Photo by Dondré Trotman.

Chief curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Tobias Ostrander, giving his presentation. Photo by Dondré Trotman.

The inaugural event held at the Fresh Milk Art Platform for the year 2014 brought together two interesting discussions concerning the production and exhibition of artworks within a global context. The first of these took up the role that artists’ residencies play as valuable sites of artistic growth and production, but also as sites that encourage cultural mobility and the negotiation of difference, where artists are able to freely adapt to new spaces and perspectives. These talks were conducted by three local artists – Mark King, Nick Whittle and Versia Harris – who have participated in multiple residencies within the region and internationally. This was followed by a presentation from the Chief Curator at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, Tobias Ostrander, who explored the notion of a new regional museum. Reinforcing the emphasis that Fresh Milk places on the importance of cross-cultural collaboration, the speakers at FRESH MILK XIV provided audience members with an expanded view of Caribbean regionalism, intending to provoke greater consideration of the need to work across geographical boundaries in order to develop relationships with other institutions across the globe.

For Barbadian and British artist Nick Whittle, the problem with residencies is that eventually they come to an end. This notion of the artist residency as a safe space in which to experiment, explore, develop and even make mistakes resounded throughout the presentations given by the three speakers. For artists, a residency is an opportunity to produce work in a space away from their usual environment and obligations, often accompanied by other artists, and thus creates a community of reciprocity. Since there is not one specific model, residencies offer different environments and different creative frameworks.

Nick Whittle, Queen Emma Bridge, Curacao, 2013

Nick Whittle, Queen Emma Bridge, Curacao, 2013

Nick recently attended a residency at the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB) in Curaçao. The language barrier that Nick experienced inspired him to take up the issue of exclusion in his works, which acquired the form of nesting boats made from large sheets of Dutch newspaper. With the words “this is not my land, not my island” written on his back, Nick staged a live performance in Curaçao in which he sat in a long newspaper boat on a bridge, forcing viewers to consider what his presence in that context meant historically and geographically. Subsequently, Nick has produced a short film with his daughter, artist Alberta Whittle, extending these themes of exclusion and belonging, presence and absence, forced encounters and cultural dislocations.

Versia Harris, a Barbadian artist, was able to trace both the transformation of her artistic style and the development of her confidence towards her production process through her experiences at four artist residencies. Beginning at Fresh Milk, she saw this opportunity as a test run for her first international residency at the Vermont Studio Center, where her intention was to focus on printmaking because of the facilities available at the Center. By the time Versia finished her next residency at the IBB in Curaçao, her work had taken a fascinating turn, experimenting with the incorporation of photographs and live footage into her animations.

Versia Harris, Fantasy Land Seperation, 2013

Versia Harris, Fantasy Land Seperation, 2013

In Trinidad, under the guidance of Christopher Cozier, co-director of Alice Yard, Versia began to revise pervious animation projects, and through the process of re-editing was able to produce a multi-screen installation on the exterior walls of the Alice Yard building. This creation of a strong, new work from fragments of older works was an impressive manifestation of Versia’s development as an artist during her time at the four residencies, and stands as a testament to the importance of reflecting on progress over time, and anticipating what is to come from this young artist.

While Versia’s development was first and foremost aesthetic and stylistic, artist Mark King’s development was intrinsically based in the theory behind his works. Although trained in photography, Mark felt that the medium was limited in its ability to communicate the issues that he wanted to address. While attending residencies at Alice Yard, Fresh Milk and Ateliers ’89 in Aruba, Mark used the mediums of photography, drawing, installation, sculpture and collage to respond to what was happening around him. Inspired by geometric forms and the practice of origami, Mark has created a series of beautiful and complex line arrangements on paper that are the result of algorithms made from books on the 2009 economic crash, overall banking history and culture, memoirs, autobiographies, and financial industry related news articles.

Work by Mark King from the CABTW series, (2013 - ongoing) exhibited at FRESH MILK XIV. Photo by Dondré Trotman.

Work by Mark King from the CABTW series, (2013 – ongoing) exhibited at FRESH MILK XIV. Photo by Dondré Trotman.

Underlying these intricate and delicate designs is a strong criticism of the CEOs who were responsible for the financial crisis, and he recognizes an interesting connection between the uncertainty of the shape that the algorithms take when converted into the vectors that make up his work and the uncertainty of the stock market. In this series, and in his installations in Aruba, Mark has altered familiar structures in ways that enabled him to respond to social norms in coded and often satirical ways, free from the restrictions of one specific medium.

The value of attending multiple artists’ residencies as part of a larger process of artistic development comes from the global reality of our contemporary art world. Residencies, both regional and international, should be seen as part of a wider network of institutions that stands to connect artists and foster cultural exchange. This dialogue was continued by Tobias Ostrander, who spoke of his work as chief curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, which opened December 2013 in a new building designed by Herzog & de Mueron. Given that Miami functions as a transitory space between North, South and Central America and the Caribbean, the addition of this large-scale museum to a quickly maturing city, previously best known for the temporary art fair Art Basel, positions Miami as an interesting space in which to explore the possibility for a long-term relationship between the Pérez Art Museum and Caribbean art institutions.

FRESH MILK XIV. Photos by Dondré Trotman.

Speaking of a larger project of “strategic regionalism,” intended to increase the dialogue between these regions over time, Tobias emphasized the importance of seeing this a process of resolution, rather than a quick solution to the lack of visibility that Caribbean artists experience. Recognizing the curatorial issues inherent in exhibitions like Caribbean: Crossroads of the World, which will be shown at the Pérez Art Museum this year on a smaller scale than was shown in New York in 2012, Tobias positions this exhibition as a potential starting-point for dealing with these issues, and the first stage in a greater project of collaboration.

Underlying the discussion was a distinct frustration that ultimately exhibitions, like residencies, are temporary. The challenge that we face now is how to extend the wider horizons afforded by these events to effect meaningful change to the infrastructure within which Caribbean artists work on a daily basis.

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About Jessica Taylor:

Jessica Taylor

Jessica Taylor

Jessica Taylor recently graduated from McGill University with an undergraduate degree in Art History and Philosophy and hopes to begin a graduate degree in Curatorial Studies in 2014. Her focus is contemporary Caribbean art.