FRESH MILK XVII Review

Kwame Slusher, writer and current team leader of Fresh Milk Books, shares a review of our final event for 2014, FRESH MILK XVII which took place on December 19. The event featured presentations by resident artists, overviews of past and upcoming projects & activities, and a potluck celebration dinner to close out our year. 

All photography by Dondré Trotman.

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…so we jewel the edges of his body

With shattered bottles, then bear him
to the foot of the casuarinas in order that his born
silhouette may freely flash and prance—

– Christian Campbell
Goodmans Bay II

The game described in Campbell’s poem, which he read at the event FRESH MILK XVII that took place on December 19, 2014, is known as Moon Shine Baby/Dolly—a traditional game played by children in the Caribbean and West Africa. One person is chosen or chooses to be the ‘baby/dolly’ and they lie down on the ground, while the other children outline the ‘baby/dolly’ with limestone and broken shards of glass. When the other children are finished, ‘baby/dolly’ gets up and their silhouette of found things would glitter in the moonlight. The game in Campbell’s poem is reminiscent of the Ancient Greek girl that wanted to preserve the memory of her lover who, after a time, had to return to his homeland. As the story goes, she made her lover stand still while she traced the outline of his shadow, then later, got her father to fill it in with clay. Inadvertently, like the game in Campbell’s poem, she not only created a space to remember someone by, but where something new can be developed.

FRESH MILK XVII was not just a space for the latest two resident artists to formally present on their work and experiences, but also an opportunity for members of the Fresh Milk platform to recount recent activities and to look to the future. In the wake of not having a National Art Gallery, Fresh Milk’s director Annalee Davis stated in her opening remarks that “…we live in an era necessarily of self-organization. Civil society must self-organize and build the spaces we want and need for ourselves.” Like the gathered bits of limestone and glass on the beach and the outline of the lost lover, Fresh Milk is  attempting to reimagine a historical space that fosters creativity.

The first presenter, Barbadian arts writer Natalie McGuire, spoke about the Transoceanic Visual Exchange, which is a project Fresh Milk is working on in conjunction with two other art communities: RM in New Zealand and Video Art Network (VAN) Lagos in Nigeria. McGuire said that the project was about upending traditional notions of geo-political space and cultural exchanges. The project is looking for submissions from filmmakers, video artists or artists that work between these spaces—those whose works don’t quite qualify to be shown in a gallery or in a cinema —to go about creating a digital sphere where these cultural exchanges can take place.

Barbadian visual artist and writer Katherine Kennedy then spoke about her experiences at Akadamie Schloss Solitude in Germany, where she had been selected to participate in the ResSupport Fellowship Programme offered by Res Artis on behalf of Fresh Milk from September 1st to December 1st. In her presentation, Kennedy looked at the different connections and encounters that she made with a diverse cross-section of people from around the world. In addition to the interconnection of ideas in a single space, she said that it was good to be able to find the familiar in an unfamiliar environment. She spoke about attending the opening of an exhibition in Memmingen, which focused on carnival, and seeing the work of Trinidadian visual artists Marlon Griffith and Barbadian visual artist Ewan Atkinson. Kennedy pointed out that what was interesting about the exhibition is while the theme was carnival, it was looking at both European and Caribbean depictions instead of just focusing on one locale.

In the second half of the evening, the two artists in residence – Toronto-Based, Bajan-Jamaican industrial designer and visual artist Kara Springer and Toronto-based, Trinidadian-Bahamian poet and cultural critic Christian Campbell – presented their work and what they had accomplished during the residency. Kara talked about her project, Repositioned Objects, which involved the building of 4x4x4ft wooden structures that create tension between the controlled and the uncontrollable. Kara, with the assistance of Christian, went around different points of the island installing the cubes and photographing them. In some cases the structures were left overnight, and in others she only had a short time to construct, photograph and break the structures back down again. What she did not expect was to not only have to deal with destructive natural elements, but also with people who went out of their way to destroy her structures. She was forced to then contend with the intersection of creation and destruction; the difficulty of trying to create order in a chaotic environment.

The final address was given by Christian Campbell, who began by speaking a little about the workshop he led titled ‘The Art of the Essay/The Essay on Art’. The workshop focused on ekphrasis, which has traditionally been a creatively written description on a visual work of art, however for the purposes of the workshop the definition was expanded to include any art form responding to another. Christian’s presentation, unlike the others, was really a series of readings. The first was Martin Carter’s Till I Collect to commemorate the 17th anniversary of Martin Carter’s death, which would have been on the second and last day of the critical writing workshops, held on December 13th. He also read Till I Collect because the last two lines of the poem, “till I collect my scattered skeleton/till I collect…” seemed to correlate with Jean Michel Basquiat’s X-Ray-like self portrait. Campbell read what he considered the ‘most important’ thing that he achieved during the residency, an essay on Jean Michel Basquiat, before adding to the selection with three poems from his own collection ‘Running the Dusk’: Goodmans Bay II, Curry Powder and Iguana. The last poem he read was one of his newer pieces, Names.

In his piece on Basquiat, Campbell read that the Haitian-American artist tried to collect everything, “…the way the Caribbean is the cross-cultural crossroads for the whole damn world”. In many ways that represents what art communities such as Fresh Milk, RM and VAN Lagos are and try to be with projects like the Transoceanic Visual Exchange; to create spaces with what is there, so that something new can develop. This makes it possible for artists like Katherine to go to places like Akadamie Schloss Solitude to work with and connect with other artists from all over the world.

After the presentations were over, and the rain that threatened to drown them had petered out, everyone gathered on the veranda to partake in the Christmas Potluck; to create a new space filled with the holiday spirit and hope for the New Year.

Kara Springer’s Residency – Final Blog Post

One of Fresh Milk’s resident artists from December, 2014, Barbadian-born, Toronto-based industrial designer and visual artist Kara Springer, shares her final blog post reflecting on her residency and the different ways reorienting herself in Barbados has forced her to consider her practice:

Slide 14 - Foul Bay

Back in cold Toronto now, it’s bittersweet to reflect on our time in Barbados.  It was both nourishing and profoundly productive to have the freedom as well as all of the constraints of our experience there.  The constraint of too little time, of learning and relearning the landscape, of moving ourselves and these project materials around, of building under the hot hot sun.  In the end it was the uncontrollable elements that became the most interesting part of the experience, and of the work itself.

Six 4 x 4 x 4 ft structures, set in the East coast seascape were violently destroyed overnight (by unknown human hands, a truck). Bound and let float in the sea, another form was taken down by the waves, the pieces violently ripped apart, scattered in the ocean, and then re-collected, reassembled again on the beach.  There was something satisfying in connecting the human destruction to that of the sea. It reminded me that we’re built this way – to both build and destroy, to come apart.  It was helpful too in offering new directions for me and for my work.

The last images are from our last night at Fresh Milk.  The structure is made from those re-collected pieces – with not quite enough time, and not quite enough materials (useless screws, too damaged to be reused), the structure couldn’t quite stand on the uneven ground of this former plantation, now dairy farm and gathering place for artists. Christian steps in so I can at least capture an image of what it might have been. And then as it caves in on itself, I find this other more interesting form, that pushes against my compulsion to be precise and orderly in my making. This residency was in many ways a collection of happy accidents – wrong turns that opened up new and unexpected paths, and constraints that pushed me to think in new ways about freedom.

FRESH MILK XVII Video

Check out our video from FRESH MILK XVII, which took place on December 19, 2014 at The Fresh Milk Art Platform, Barbados.

FRESH MILK XVII was our last public event for 2014, and featured visual artist Kara Springer and poet / critical writer Christian Campbell speaking about their residency experiences, Katherine Kennedy sharing news about her three month fellowship at Akadamie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany and Natalie McGuire addressing TVE – a Transoceanic Visual Exchange between Barbados, Nigeria and New Zealand.

Thanks to Sammy Davis for shooting and editing this video!

Kara Springer’s Residency – First Blog Post

One of Fresh Milk’s current resident artists, Toronto based industrial designer and visual artist Kara Springer, shares her first blog post about her time working in Barbados:

Repositioned Objects - 6x6 -2 One week into our residency at Fresh Milk, and I’m already longing for more time here.  It’s such a gift to have access to the beautiful Fresh Milk studio and library.  Christian and I are exploring the island in my uncle’s car, scouting locations for my installation series, tentatively titled Repositioned Objects.  Lately I’ve been thinking about my preoccupation with decay and erosion, which is in some way or another present in all of my work.  It’s this very particular thing in the Caribbean – the way that structures can come apart, and literally crumble; the elements are always intimately and intensely present. I built the 6’x6′ cube below in a burned-out shop in Bridgetown this week.  The shop is in the midst of being rebuilt so I had this brief window of time (24 hours) to build, photograph, and ultimately disassemble the piece.  I was immediately drawn to the industrial quality of the space – carrying the traces of what it used to be and the questions of how it fell into disrepair, even in its current state of being prepped for re-construction.

In contrast, two weeks ago, just as the temperature dropped below freezing in Toronto, I installed the form below, which was originally inspired by a roti hut, in an industrial parking lot at Keele & St Clair.  I had to trek into the store nearby every 10 minutes or so to thaw my hands as I put it together.  This residency is affording me a really valuable space to think through what it means to be of and from many different places, and the translations that are negotiated in the in-between.

FRESH MILK XVII

Fresh Milk XVII

Join us on December 19th, 2014, from 6:30 to 8pm for FRESH MILK XVII. Visual artist Kara Springer and poet / critical writer Christian Campbell will speak about their residency experiences; Katherine Kennedy will share news about her recently completed three month Fellowship at Akadamie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany while Natalie McGuire will join us by Skype to speak about TVE – a Transoceanic Visual Exchange between Barbados, Nigeria and New Zealand.

It’s the last Fresh Milk event for 2014. We’ll close out the year with a Pot Luck. Bring food, drink and good cheer!

This event is free and open to the public.

Visit https://freshmilkbarbados.com/about/ for directions to Fresh Milk

Kara Springer

Kara Springer

Kara Springer is an industrial designer and visual artist.  Born in Bridgetown, Barbados, she currently lives and works between Toronto and Detroit.  Her interdisciplinary practice explores the intersections of the body and industrial modes of production through sculpture, photography and designed objects. Kara completed an Hon.B.Sc. in Life Sciences from the University of Toronto concurrent to a B.Des. in Industrial Design from the Ontario College of Art & Design.  She received her M.A. in New Media and Contemporary Technology from ENSCI Les Ateliers in Paris in 2007. Her work has been exhibited at the Frankfurt Museum of Applied Arts in Germany, the Politecnico di Torino in Italy, the Cultural Center of Belem in Portugal, and is currently included in the 2014 Jamaica Biennial.

Christian Campbell

Christian Campbell

Christian Campbell is a Trinidadian-Bahamian poet and cultural critic. His widely acclaimed first book, Running the Dusk (Peepal Tree Press, 2010), won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was a finalist for the Forward Prize for the Best First Collection, among many other awards. Running the Dusk was also named one of the best books of 2010 by the Caribbean Review of Books,Horizon Review and Poetry International. In 2015 Running the Dusk will be translated into Spanish and published as Correr el Crepúsculo by Ediciones Santiago in Cuba. His poetry and essays have been published widely in journals and newspapers such as Callaloo, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Small Axe and Wasafiri.  He studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and currently teaches at the University of Toronto.

Katherine Kennedy

Katherine Kennedy

Katherine Kennedy (Born April 4, 1990, Barbados) graduated from Lancaster University, UK with a degree in Creative Arts (2008-2011) after winning a Barbados Government Scholarship for tertiary education. Her combined major of Fine Art and Creative Writing developed her interests in visual and literary pursuits. She has won awards for her artwork and writing in her home Barbados, and exhibited locally and internationally. She currently works as the Assistant to Director with both The Fresh Milk Art Platform, an artist-led initiative and residency programme, and ARC Magazine for contemporary Caribbean art. Her visual practice is heavily tied to a sense of place, and uses interplay between found organic and inorganic objects to assert cultural identity in different environments.

Katherine travelled to the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB), Curaçao in November 2012 to conduct ‘Creatives in Conversation’, a collaboration between the IBB and Fresh Milk. She received a full fellowship from the Reed Foundation for a residency at The Vermont Studio Center in May 2013. In September 2013, she took part in ‘fresh casa’, a short, intensive mentorship programme at Casa Tomada, São Paulo, Brazil.

Natalie McGuire

Photograph by Dondre Trotman

Photograph by Dondre Trotman

Natalie McGuire is a Barbadian Art Writer who has recently completed her MA at The University of Auckland, NZ, with a thesis deconstructing Caribbean diasporic representation in museums. She is on the board of the Fresh Milk Arts Platform in Barbados, the committee of the West Indian Society in Auckland, and has contributed to publications such as ARC Magazine and AICA Southern Caribbean. Recently she has given papers on Caribbean visual language in digital art mediums at the Small Axe Caribbean Digital Conference and Otago University’s Space Race and Bodies conference.