Fresh Performance: Contemporary Performance Art in New York City and the Caribbean

The full documentary Fresh Performance: Contemporary Performance Art in New York City and the Caribbean, the culmination of a collaborative project between Fresh Milk and New York-based, Guyanese artist damali abrams is now available for viewing online.

The Fresh Performance Project was an experimental, six-chapter documentary series which saw damali interviewing 12 performance artists, 6 from the Caribbean and 6 from NYC, and pairing them under particular themes to investigate performance art from the perspectives of those working in these different locations and contexts.

This video, which was screened at FRESH MILK XIII in October, 2013 saw footage from all of the interviews edited into one video, which flows almost as if the artists are in conversation with one another as they speak out their practices and the larger contexts they work in, revealing a number of linkages that can be drawn despite differing settings and the variety of concepts addressed.

Screening damali abrams' documentary Fresh Performance: Contemporary Performance Art in NYC & the Caribbean

…Fresh Performance: Contemporary Performance Art in NYC & the Caribbean, the documentary that I came to this residency to complete, came out very differently from what I expected (but I expected that as well)… I began to leave in only the portions of the interviews that clearly explained the importance of performance to these particular artists. I wound up cutting about two-thirds of the piece. It went from about 90 minutes to roughly 30 minutes. Then I had to rearrange the clips so that the words of all of the artists I interviewed flowed together. It wasn’t until I got back to New York that I realized that the project had taken shape based on the conversations and experiences I had during the residency (which I think must be the entire point of a residency anyway)…

– damali abrams in her blog post on her residency with Fresh Milk and Groundation Grenada

Zachary Fabri, New York-based performance artist in Fresh Performance: Contemporary Performance Art in NYC & the Caribbean. Photograph by Mark King.

…Entitled Fresh Performance: Contemporary Performance Art in New York City and the Caribbean, damali’s documentary is less about the specific performance works of the twelve artists that she interviewed but is instead more about the artists’ conceptions of performance art as a practice within the context of their work. In the first few minutes of the film we are introduced to differing considerations of what performance art is from the twelve artists, which for the viewer emphasizes the interpretive nature of performance art and its malleability as an art form. damali has paired the video interviews with still images of the live performances of each artist, which creates an intriguing juxtaposition of interview as performance, and performance as documentary…

Jessica Taylor in her review of FRESH MILK XIII

Damali Abrams’ Residency: Week 1 Report


Damali Abrams making a presentation to the BCC Fine Arts students

For the past six months I have been participating in an off-site residency, collaborating with Fresh Milk on the Fresh Performance project. To find out how performance art manifests in New York City and the Caribbean, I have been conducting a series of interviews with artists who engage performance in different forms in their work. This includes performative photos and videos as well as live performance. Each month from April through September, I interviewed one artist in NYC and one in the Caribbean via the internet. Each month the interviews had a different theme including defining performance art; gender & sexuality; and how performance communicates. Now I am here in Barbados to edit the interviews together into a full-length documentary.

The first week of my residency here on the Fresh Milk platform was lovely, though I also felt a bit anxious. I have about six hours of interview footage from the past six months, though the videos that I have been posting online have only been about ten minutes each. I finally have the opportunity to add in all of the interesting things that the artists said that I had to edit out. Though it is an interesting project, it is somewhat daunting as well.

When I’m at home in New York and I am working on editing video projects, I often take dance breaks to shake out my body as well as my brain. I’m too shy to do that here but I have been taking collage breaks, collecting images from books and magazines that Fresh Milk provided and covering them with glitter. I’m not sure how any of this will turn out or if it will even turn into anything concrete, but it is an enjoyable way to take breaks from sitting in front of the computer all day.

Damali Abrams

Fresh Milk and Groundation Grenada welcome Damali Abrams

Damali Announcement flyer

FRESH MILK and Groundation Grenada are pleased to have NYC-based, Guyanese performance artist Damali Abrams visit our platforms as artist in residence for the month of October, 2013.

Damali, who has been working with FRESH MILK on The Fresh Performance Project which features interviews with Caribbean-based and NYC-based performance artists, will spend three weeks in Barbados and one week in Grenada. In addition to editing a full length documentary around Fresh Performance and producing her own work, Damali will also be conducting workshops and community outreach projects in both islands.

This exciting residency not only marks the first official collaboration between FRESH MILK and Groundation, but will also expand the cultural arena for both NY based and Caribbean based creatives, contributing to critical discourse around performance art.

Fresh Milk and Groundation Grenada wish to engage with the Caribbean diasporic art community in the New York area as well as a wider U.S. audience, and projects of this nature are unique in that they reverse the trend of Caribbean based artists wanting to find relevance for their work in a North American context. In this instance, it is a U.S. based artist who is keen to see how her work resonates within the Caribbean environment.

Given that performance art in the Caribbean is practiced by a small number of artists, this project will contribute to expanding a critical and creative community by offering support to performance artists who often work in isolation. Finally, the project will build cultural bridges between the U.S. and the Caribbean and generate understanding and community through the arts.

Damali will share the outcome of her residency at a public event to be held at FRESH MILK on October 24th. More information on this to follow!

Special thanks to the US Embassy in Barbados for supporting this project.