Tilting Axis 2: Caribbean Strategies held at the Pérez Art Museum Miami

The inaugural edition of the Caribbean-driven visual arts conference Tilting Axis took place last year at The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. in Barbados. This initial encounter saw thirty-two arts professionals spanning the Anglophone, Francophone, Hispanic and Dutch Caribbean convene for the first time on Caribbean soil alongside a number of international participants. Building on this, Tilting Axis 2 took place at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) on February 19 and 20, 2016, with more than double the previous number of attendees coming together to discuss this year’s topic ‘Caribbean Strategies’.

Tilting Axis was originally conceived by Fresh Milk and ARC Magazine, who have continued to collaborate with core partners Res Artis and PAMM for the second iteration in Miami. As a city that not only aspires to be a vital art centre in the 21st century, but that also acts as a hub between the Caribbean and the global North with a large diasporic population and, in many ways, a shared history, Miami was a strategic location for the conference to travel to.

The participants of Tilting Axis 2

The participants of Tilting Axis 2

In her introductory remarks, Annalee Davis, Founding Director of Fresh Milk, emphasized the value of the first meeting having taken place within the region: “This notion of ‘tilting the axis’ refers to shifting the focus of our gaze and harnessing our collective power to make this sector more visible and sustainable in ways that resonate with our lived realities in the Caribbean.”

Although this concurrent gathering happened physically in the USA, it is critical that the heart of Tilting Axis and the commitments made by all those in attendance continue to act “as a counterpoint to many decisions often made about the region from external locations.”

Holly Bynoe, Director and Editor-in-Chief of ARC, reiterated these sentiments, and expressed thanks to the team at PAMM for facilitating a larger conference and making the museum’s network and resources available to the region: “As we work to make new connections with individuals and entities who want to work with the creative Caribbean, figure out our best practices and become more regionally conscious, projects like Tilting Axis can become one of the fertile seeds of this transformation.”

Introductory remarks at Tilting Axis 2

Introductory remarks at Tilting Axis 2

Tilting Axis 2 was anchored by three modules that emerged from the first meeting: exhibitions and programming, artists’ movement and mobility, and education. Table 1 on Exhibitions and Programming was moderated by Holly Bynoe, and looked at curatorial projects that reimagine tropes of the Caribbean. The three presenters were Veerle Poupeye, Director of the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ); Art Historian at Northwestern University Krista Thompson; and Johanna Auguiac-Célénice, Director of the Biennale Internationale d’Art Contemporain Martinique (BIAC-Martinique).

Poupeye highlighted the shift in the NGJ’s approach to curating from “teaching a lesson to encouraging conversations,” giving examples of exhibitions the gallery has held in recent years. Thompson spoke about the increasing interest in Caribbean art over the last decade, and how her curatorial projects seek to counter the often monolithic view of the region. Through her work at the BIAC, Auguiac-Célénice expressed the need for us to think about Caribbean culture differently, embracing our differences and favouring a rhizomatic system over hierarchy.

Veerle Poupeye’s presentation about the National Gallery of Jamaica

Veerle Poupeye’s presentation about the National Gallery of Jamaica

Table 2 addressed Artists’ Movement and Mobility, and was moderated by Tobias Ostrander, Chief Curator of PAMM. Presentations were given by Joëlle Ferly, Director of L’Artocarpe in Guadeloupe and Marcel Pinas, Founder of Tembe Art Studio in Suriname about their respective platforms, experimental approaches to residencies and issues in the mobility of artists working in and from the Caribbean. Both speakers see their organizations as fulfilling a necessary role in their countries, with Pinas’ sharing his strong stance on using the arts as a way to generate “awareness and value of ourselves and our culture,” and give back to the community.

Donette Francis, Rene Morales and Gean Moreno in a group discussion at Tilting Axis 2.

Donette Francis, Rene Morales and Gean Moreno in a group discussion at Tilting Axis 2.

Moderated by Annalee Davis, Table 3 looked at alternate models of arts education. Panelists included Gean Moreno, Curator of Programs at ICA, Miami; Pablo Guardiola, Co-director of Beta Local in Puerto Rico; and Paulo Miyada, Director of the Entropic School at Instituto Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo, Brazil.

Moreno discussed the alternate education programming of research.art.dialogue (r.a.d.) in terms of mapping a variety of learning structures and advocating for non-traditional methodologies of knowledge exchange. Guardiola spoke about the importance of alternate education in the arts co-existing alongside cultural institutions and schools to ensure a breadth of experience for students. Beginning his presentation by giving a background in Brazilian art, Miyada went on to outline the Entropic School’s vision of being a space of experimentation and addressed the gap between formal art education and professional placement in Brazil.

Group discussions at Tilting Axis 2

Group discussions at Tilting Axis 2

Deborah Anzinger, Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Tumelo Mosaka, Deb Dormody and Blue Curry in a group discussion at Tilting Axis 2

Deborah Anzinger, Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Tumelo Mosaka, Deb Dormody and Blue Curry in a group discussion at Tilting Axis 2

Open clinics were held to determine how attendees could realistically use the range of skills and knowledge at the conference to commit to a series of actions around the three target areas. Some of these included co-creating educational programmes; the potential of forming an advocacy group to liaise with governments on behalf of artists; initiating residencies and exchanges between a broad spectrum of cultural professionals; and designing an exhibition programme which could happen simultaneously in a number of territories, while having scholarship on the exhibitions written from within the region and disseminated widely.

Also built into the two-day conference were three ‘artist intermissions’, featuring short presentations by Haitian-born, Miami based artist Adler Guerrier, Bahamian-born, London-based artist Blue Curry and St. Martin-born, Martinique based artist David Gumbs. Interspersing the dialogues with opportunities to see what a few artists connected to the region are producing created a space for rejuvenation and inspiration. Along this same vein, a group visit was organized to Cannonball Studios, where Blue Curry and ARC Magazine’s Senior Arts Writer Marsha Pearce had been taking part in a residency leading up to the meeting.

Adler Guerrier presenting about his art practice at Tilting Axis 2

Adler Guerrier presenting about his art practice at Tilting Axis 2

Blue Curry’s studio at Cannonball studios, Miami. Photo courtesy of the artist

Blue Curry’s studio at Cannonball studios, Miami. Photo courtesy of the artist

The closing event of the conference was a public talk given by Pablo León de la Barra, a curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for the Latin American phase of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. His presentation examined the structure and function of museums in contemporary society. León de la Barra discussed some of his curatorial work which explores different ways of creating agency and visibility for cultures that are often erased from the established canon of art history.

Overall, Tilting Axis 2: Caribbean Strategies made significant strides in its aims to fortify networks through knowledge transfer, provide avenues for critical conversation and form action plans to extend the reach of arts and culture throughout the Caribbean. The next edition of the meeting is slated to take place in early 2017, hosted by the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI).

To find out more about the organising institutions and funders visit the ARC, Fresh Milk, PAMM and Res Artis websites.

Tilting Axis: Day Two Video

The two-day conference Tilting Axis: Within and Beyond the Caribbean – Shifting Models of Sustainability and Connectivity was held at The Fresh Milk Art Platform, Barbados on February 27-28, 2015. This meeting aimed to promote greater conversations and engagement between artists and professionals working within artist-led initiatives across the wider Caribbean region, build and redefine historical relationships with those in the North, and establish open dialogue with active networks emerging in the Global South.

Organized by Fresh Milk, ARC Inc., Res Artis and Pérez Art Museum Miami, Tilting Axis saw the founders/directors of several of the region’s artist-led initiatives coming together to engage in face to face conversations, along with a number of professionals from outside the region interested in working with Caribbean based initiatives.

Tilting Axis was supported by the Arts and Sport Promotion Fund Committee (Barbados), the Davidoff Art Initiative, the British Council and the Prince Claus Fund.

Take a look at a short video from the second day of Tilting Axis. Thanks to Sammy Davis for shooting and editing this video!

Tilting Axis: Day One Video

The two-day conference Tilting Axis: Within and Beyond the Caribbean – Shifting Models of Sustainability and Connectivity was held at The Fresh Milk Art Platform, Barbados on February 27-28, 2015. This meeting aimed to promote greater conversations and engagement between artists and professionals working within artist-led initiatives across the wider Caribbean region, build and redefine historical relationships with those in the North, and establish open dialogue with active networks emerging in the Global South.

Organized by Fresh Milk, ARC Inc., Res Artis and Pérez Art Museum Miami, Tilting Axis saw the founders/directors of several of the region’s artist-led initiatives coming together to engage in face to face conversations, along with a number of professionals from outside the region interested in working with Caribbean based initiatives.

Tilting Axis was supported by the Arts and Sport Promotion Fund Committee (Barbados), the Davidoff Art Initiative, the British Council and the Prince Claus Fund.

Take a look at a short video from the first day of Tilting Axis. Thanks to Sammy Davis for shooting and editing this video!

Tilting Axis: Game-Changing Regional Art Conference on Sustainability in Caribbean Visual Arts held in Barbados

Participants of the Tilting Axis 2015 conference. All photographs by Sammy Davis.

Participants of the Tilting Axis 2015 conference. All photographs by Sammy Davis.

The visual arts conference, ‘Tilting Axis: Within and Beyond the Caribbean – Shifting Models of Sustainability and Connectivity‘, was held in Barbados on February 27-28, 2015 and was dedicated to forging infrastructure between several independent art organisations and museums operating across the Caribbean, U.S., E.U., and China. The conference is a game-changing development for sustainable economic development in regional visual art.

The two-day conference brought together the diverse leaders of these visual art development organisations to negotiate strategic regional and international alliances for the formalisation and further development of infrastructure, production and markets for Caribbean art.

The conference was organized by The Fresh Milk Art Platform, Inc., where the event was held, in collaboration with ARC Magazine, Res Artis and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Tilting Axis was supported by the Arts and Sport Promotion Fund Committee (Barbados), the Davidoff Art Initiative, the British Council and the Prince Claus Fund.

Among the more than thirty invited participants were Annalee Davis, Founding Director of The Fresh Milk Art Platform (Barbados); Holly Bynoe, Co-founder and Editor-in-chief of ARC Magazine (St. Vincent & the Grenadines); Tobias Ostrander, Chief Curator, and Maria Elena Ortiz, Assistant Curator, of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (USA); Mario A. Caro, President of Res Artis (Amsterdam); David Codling, Director Arts, Americas, British Council (Colombia); Natalie Urquhart, Director of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands; Amanda Coulson, Director of art fair VOLTA NY and Director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas; Deborah Anzinger, Artist and Director of Kingston-based visual art initiative NLS (Jamaica); Nicholas Laughlin, Co-founder of Trinidad and Tobago-based backyard space, Alice Yard; David Bade and Tirzo Martha, Co-directors of Instituto Buena Bista (Curaçao); Elvis López, Director of Ateliers ‘89 (Aruba); Remco De Blaaij, Curator at the Centre for Contemporary Art (Glasgow); Max Slaven and Ellie Royle, Co-Directors of the David Dale Gallery & Studios (Glasgow); Jessica Carden, Co-founder of Mother Tongue (Glasgow); Solange Farkas, Director of Videobrasil (Brazil); N’Goné Fall, Independent Curator and Co-Founder of GawLab (Senegal); Raquel Paiewonsky, Co-founder of the artist collective Quintapata (Dominican Republic); Kira Simon-Kennedy, Co-founder China Residencies (USA/China); Malaika Brooks-Smith Lowe, Co-founder and Director of Groundation Grenada, Marsha Pearce, Senior Editor of ARC Magazine (Trinidad); Caryl* Ivrisse Crochemar, Director of 14°N 61°W (Martinique). And from Barbados participants included Janice Whittle, curator of Queens Park Gallery and representative of the National Cultural Foundation; Therese Hadchity, Art Historian; Joscelyn Gardner, Artist; Llanor Alleyne, Artist and Writer; Katherine Kennedy, Artist and Directors’ Assistant at ARC and Fresh Milk; Versia Harris, Artist and Fresh Milk volunteer; Sammy Davis, Fresh Milk volunteer and Tonika Sealy, Independent Cultural Producer.

L-R: Mario A. Caro (President of Res Artis), Annalee Davis (Founding Director of Fresh Milk), Tobias Ostrander (Chief Curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami) and Holly Bynoe (Co-founder & Editor-in-chief of ARC Magazine).

L-R: Mario A. Caro (President of Res Artis), Annalee Davis (Founding Director of Fresh Milk), Tobias Ostrander (Chief Curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami) and Holly Bynoe (Co-founder & Editor-in-chief of ARC Magazine).

According to co-organisers Holly Bynoe and Annalee Davis, the conference seeks to create opportunities for visual artists living in the Caribbean and provide professional and economic development in the region through formal collaborations between key art organisations and foundations across the Caribbean and beyond. The conference also aims to build and redefine relationships around cultural exchange between the Global North and the Global South.

“It is not just about contemporary art. One of the tasks we have undertaken at the Pérez Art Museum Miami is the building of Caribbean art histories in the consciousness of the American public. We see the Pérez Art Museum as strategically placed to undertake this,” stated Tobias Ostrander.

From the conference, a strategic action plan for continued collaboration was developed after a reflection on the two-day discussion.

“In creating markets for contemporary art in the Caribbean, we are developing the ecosystem and all the underlying components that drive that market: The environment for artists to make great work; art writers, researchers and funders to help make that work accessible to the public; international museums and galleries to show the work; advisors and dealers to get the work placed in collections. Shared programming, exchanges, and educational initiatives developed between the institutions present addressed these key components,” stated Deborah Anzinger.

Tilting Axis 2015

Tilting Axis 2015

One of the mandates issued to the participants of the Tilting Axis conference is to tighten strategic networks in their home countries. The organisers of the conference also expect to expand the invited participant list for the next meeting which will take place in 2016.

Annalee Davis stated in her welcome address that “Many of us working in the region have been speaking with one another, in some cases for many years, but today is the first time that artist-led initiatives have come together from the Dutch, Spanish, French and English territories to meet physically in the Caribbean. It is critical that this gathering is taking place on Caribbean soil, and that we consider the visual arts sector from within the archipelago as a counterpoint to the many decisions that have been and are often made about the region externally.”

Mario A. Caro expressed his enthusiasm for the collaborations to be developed between members of Res Artis, a worldwide network of art residencies, and organizations in the Caribbean. “It is clear that the cultural sector in the Caribbean is undergoing exciting and, at times, dynamic changes, and many of these have to do with relationships being established with new partners around the globe. The increase in the mobility of artists through art residencies, both into and out of the region, is one critical factor.”

Holly Bynoe echoed positivism: “The meeting of professionals who are actively engaging and challenging collaborative strategies acknowledges the changes rippling across the Caribbean, and reaffirms the critical value of innovative emerging networks. As more eyes are turning to look at this space, we need to be cognisant of what they are seeing, and consider how and what we want them to experience. Tilting Axis aspires to become a conduit; supporting the professionalisation of artists and formalising engagements, leading to greater visibility and accessibility of contemporary Caribbean art.”

Tilting Axis 2015

Tilting Axis 2015

Tilting Axis: Within and Beyond the Caribbean – Shifting Models of Sustainability and Connectivity

The two-day conference ‘Tilting Axis: Within and Beyond the Caribbean – Shifting Models of Sustainability and Connectivity’ will be held at The Fresh Milk Art Platform, Barbados on February 27-28, 2015. This meeting aims to promote greater conversations and engagement between artists and professionals working within artist-led initiatives across the wider Caribbean region, build and redefine historical relationships with those in the North, and establish open dialogue with active networks emerging in the Global South.

Organized by Fresh Milk, ARC Inc., Res Artis and Pérez Art Museum Miami, Tilting Axis sees the founders/directors of several of the region’s artist-led initiatives coming together to engage in face to face conversations, along with a number of professionals from outside the region interested in working with Caribbean based initiatives.

The objectives of the two-day engagement are to:

● Create opportunities for more integration, awareness, and collaborations to take place across the Caribbean and between international foundations, cultural organizations, and practitioners;
● Enable local, regional, and international artist networks to reflect on lessons learned and share best practices, methodologies, and ideas;
● Develop an action plan for continued collaboration and for moving the Caribbean out of a peripheral position in the global art conversation.

Directing Organizations: ARC Inc., and Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc.
Associate Partners: Res Artis and Pérez Art Museum Miami
Supporting Partners: Arts and Sport Promotion Fund Committee (Barbados), the Davidoff Art Initiative, the British Council and the Prince Claus Fund.

Participants:

Annalee Davis – Founder/Director, The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. (Barbados)
Holly Bynoe – Co-founder/Director, ARC Inc. (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)
Mario Caro – President, Res Artis (The Netherlands)
Tobias Ostrander – Chief Curator, Pérez Art Museum Miami (USA)
Solange Farkas – Director, Videobrasil (Brazil)
N’Goné Fall – Co-founder/Director, GawLab (Senegal)
Katherine Kennedy – Assistant to Directors, The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. & ARC Inc. (Barbados)
Versia Harris – Visual Artist/Volunteer, The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. (Barbados)
Sammy Davis – Videographer/Volunteer, The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. (Barbados)
Deborah Anzinger – Executive Director, New Local Space -NLS (Jamaica)
Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe – Co-founder/Director, Groundation Grenada (Grenada)
Caryl Ivrisse-Crochemar – Director, 14Nº61ºW (Martinique)
Nicholas Laughlin – Co-founder, Alice Yard (Trinidad & Tobago)
Marsha Pearce – Senior Editor, ARC Inc. (Trinidad & Tobago)
Amanda Coulson – Director, The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (The Bahamas)
David Bade – Co-founder, Instituto Buena Bista – IBB (Curaçao)
Tirzo Martha – Co-founder, Instituto Buena Bista – IBB (Curaçao)
Elvis Lopez – Director, Ateliers ‘89 (Aruba)
Natalie Urquhart – Director, The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (Cayman Islands)
Raquel Paiewonsky – Artist and Co-Founder, Quintapata (Dominican Republic)
Kira Simon-Kennedy – Program Manager/Co-founder, China Residencies (New York City)
Maria Elena Ortiz – Associate Curator, Pérez Art Museum Miami (USA)
David Codling – Director Arts, Americas, British Council (Colombia)
Remco de Blaaij – Curator, Centre for Contemporary Arts (Scotland)
Jessica Carden – Curator, Mother Tongue (United Kingdom)
Max Slaven – Co-Director, David Dale Gallery, Glasgow (Scotland)
Ellie Royle – Co-Director, David Dale Gallery, Glasgow (Scotland)
Janice Whittle – Curator, The National Cultural Foundation (Barbados)
Joscelyn Gardner – Visual Artist (Barbados)
Therese Hadchity – Art Historian (Barbados)
Llanor Alleyne – Visual artist (Barbados)
Tonika Sealy – Independent Cultural Producer (Barbados)

Image credit: Mark King, Untitled Grid Fields, paint on concrete, 2015. Photo by Llanor Alleyne