Fresh Milk welcomes Nyugen Smith and Letitia Pratt to the platform

Fresh Milk is excited to welcome US-based interdisciplinary artist Nyugen Smith and Bahamian writer Letitia Pratt to the platform for the month of June, 2017.

While in Barbados, Nyugen will be working on a project which  contributes to a multi-part installation titled Lavway. (“Lavway” is Trinidadian patois for “le vrai,”or “the truth” in French, and is the name of a form of calypso that reports the truth as seen by the singer or composer.) Lavway will examine the education system in the Caribbean from late nineteenth century to present day with a focus on systematic omission of histories and contributions of people from the African diaspora. His Fresh Milk residency will be spent in part on research and collecting relevant objects, recordings, and texts in relation to this.

Letitia intends to use the residency to work on an individual poetic project, Melody of a Lost Woman. This series of twelve narrative poems will focus specifically on Bahamian womanhood and the effects of the patriarchy on the feminine existence within the Bahamas. The piece draws strongly on Moya Bailey’s concept of misogynoir, which refers to the violence that black women endure by the hands of black men. Her work and research in Barbados will question the ways Bahamian misogynoir differs from other patriarchal incarnations, and explore commonalities through Caribbean history and folklore to consider these experiences across the African diaspora.

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Nyugen Smith (Photo credit: Janice Marin)

Drawing heavily on his West Indian heritage, Nyugen Smith is committed to raising the consciousness of past and present political struggles through his practice which consists of sculpture, installation, video and performance. He is influenced by the conflation of African cultural practices and the residue of European colonial rule in the region. Responding to the legacy of this particular environment, Nyugen’s work considers imperialist practices of oppression, violence and ideological misnomers. While exposing audiences to concealed narratives that distort reality, he destabilizes constructed frameworks from which this conversation is often held.

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About Letitia Pratt:

Letitia Pratt recently obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from the College of the Bahamas. An avid reader of fantastic fiction, most of her writing navigates the existence of black (feminine) bodies within that genre and draws heavily on stories within Bahamian folklore. Her themes often explore the function of art and literature within the Bahamas, and her most recent published work, ‘A Scene (of Two Lovers Contemplating Suicide)‘ discusses the concept of liminality within artwork, and how it’s the ability to occupy multiple spaces creates an active exchange of ideologies.

Fresh Performance Chapter 1: Defining Performance

FRESH MILK in collaboration with Damali Abrams presents Chapter 1 in the Fresh Performance Project: Defining Performance

Fresh Performance is an experimental documentary that I am working on through a seven-month off-site residency with Fresh Milk. Each month I will interview one artist in New York City and one in the Caribbean concerning different aspects of performance in their respective practices and post the videos online. I will then edit them all into a full-length documentary. My intention is that as artists we can connect with and learn from each other through our work. In my own practice, I use my art as my therapy, my school, my playground and also my surrogate when I need to communicate things that I do not know how to communicate otherwise. Through this project I am studying performance via conversations with a group of exceptional contemporary artists. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with Fresh Milk and all of these talented makers.

Art itself is a nebulous concept that eludes definition. Performance art is that much more precarious. I am drawn to performance because it can encapsulate just about anything else from any medium or discipline. It seems to be somewhat lawless and anarchic. But that is my own personal definition. In chapter one of Fresh Performance, artists Sandra Vivas, originally from Venezuela, currently living in Dominica, and Nyugen E. Smith from Jersey City, share their own definitions.

I met with Nyugen at 59th and Columbus in New York City on a very chilly early Spring day. It was far windier than expected and we scouted around for a location that would not provide too many audio challenges.  We tried inside of a mall, a hotel lobby and finally Nyugen suggested a tunnel at Central Park. It turned out to be perfect.

Sandra Vivas and I met on Google Hangout. Despite many technical difficulties, she and I had a very warm conversation. It was more like speaking with a friend I had known for years rather than someone I was meeting for the first time online. Sandra shared that while she enjoys living in Dominica, she feels very isolated creatively and has not done any performance art there.

This project is a work-in-progress and as stated above, Fresh Performance is intended to remain an open discussion so please feel free to share any questions, comments and critiques.

Damali Abrams

About Nyugen Smith:

With a fearless approach, multi-media artist Nyugen Smith embraces the role of cultural informer and champion of social justice. Drawing heavily on his West Indian heritage, Smith is interested in raising consciousness of past and present political struggles through his work which consists of sculpture, installation, video and performance. Growing up in Trinidad, Smith was profoundly influenced by the conflation of African cultural practices and the residue of British colonial rule encountered in his daily life on the island. Responding to this unique cultural environment, Smith’s art is a reaction to imperialist practices of oppression, violence and ideological misnomers.

About Sandra Vivas:

Sandra Vivas was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1969 and is currently living in Dominica West. Sandra has developed a body of work that has performance as a permanent thread through her paintings and videos. Irony and humour play a fundamental role in her work and she is considered a feminist performance pioneer in Venezuela. From 1997-2008, Sandra taught at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, in the Undergrad and Graduate Programs of the Escuela de Artes, teaching Contemporary Art History. Sandra studied painting and ballet and has a Bachelors Degree in Art History from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and a Masters Degree in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute, California, USA.