Fresh Milk Welcomes Marianne Keating to the Platform

Fresh Milk is pleased to welcome Irish artist Marianne Keating to the platform between March 11th – April 18th, 2019.

Landlessness, 2 Channel Video Installation, StudioRCA, London 2017.

Residency Statement:

Harnessing post-colonial and archival theory to analyse the migration of the Irish diaspora to the Caribbean during Ireland’s colonial rule by Britain, my research focuses its attention on the complex histories of the movement of Irish indentured labourers from Ireland to the Caribbean.

My focus in Barbados addresses the subaltern ‘poor whites’ community on the East Coast of the island, who are believed to be direct descendants of indentured labourers from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales who arrived in the seventeenth century, although through creolisation their direct origins can no longer be determined. During my residency at Fresh Milk, I aim to visit and document regions related to this community in the villages of the parish of St John where the ‘poor whites’ still live today and other sites of importance including the “vanishing villages” of Irish Town and Below Cliff. The analyses of this material and sites are fundamental to my research and development of my practice-based output, which involves the gathering of oral histories through interviews, film footage, research and documentation.

Excavating the official government documents at the Irish, English, Jamaican and the Bajan National Archives, alongside on-site investigation of other remaining visual and material traces, and through new oral histories, I begin to reconstruct this history.  Accumulating these disregarded and overlooked traces of different histories, I seek to insert a series of previously muted or silent voices into the archive and to give them presence through my practice-based work as an artist-researcher.

Situating my practice within the historiographic turn in contemporary art discourse and in relation to the Archive, notably through the examination of unrecorded, private and disregarded histories, my multi-disciplinary approach to the research, the archival record and the archival image questions the legitimacy of the archive and falsification within the recorded image and text. My research involves the gathering of oral histories through interviews, film footage, analysis, documentation and re-documentation. Through my research and the study of archival theory, I wish to challenge the definitions and meanings of the archive itself. By recovering photographic and textual traces, which had been consigned to disappear within the archive, I question what the archive remembers and what it forgets; for whom and for what purpose. By investigating collective, social and individual memory through a series of video interviews, I accumulate accounts and memories of a particular time and consider how they have been affected by the passage of time. My engagement with archival and personal accounts and embodied memories positions my research as anti-monumental, counterpoising monumental official state histories, and developing strategies to address excluded narratives, enabling previously muted voices to inform a counter-narrative assembled through creative practice, exhibition and written accounts.

About Marianne Keating:

Marianne Keating graduated with an MA from the Royal College of Art, London, and a BA from Limerick School of Art and Design, Ireland. She has exhibited extensively including exhibitions in London, Paris, New York, Melbourne and Shanghai. She is currently preparing for upcoming solo shows for the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland and Rampa Gallery, Porto, Portugal. Recent group shows include New Contemporaries, South London Gallery and as part of the Liverpool Biennial; Arrivants: Art and Migration in the Anglophone Caribbean, Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Bridgetown, Barbados and Between Us And, Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland (2018). 

Deadline extended: The NCF and Fresh Milk Emerging Directors Residency 2017

The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and the Fresh Milk Art Platform are pleased to share an open call for the Emerging Directors Residency 2017. Launched for the first time last year, this exciting programme is a paid artist residency for early career theatre directors, which will provide them with an opportunity to conduct much needed research into Caribbean theatre heritage and to explore and create through theatre form and style.

The deadline for applications has been extended until October 18th, and the residency will take place between November 6th – December 8th. Read more below:

One residency will be offered for one emerging Barbadian director, who will receive a stipend of $1,000.00 BBD. The residency will be based at the Fresh Milk studio in Walkers, St. George, and will run for a 50 hour period which the resident must complete over five weeks, between November 6th – December 8th, 2017. The deadline for applications is October 18th, 2017.

The selected resident will be mentored over the course of the programme by a noted Caribbean Director and, at the close of the period, will present by way of an intimate, private showcase with their actors and specially invited theatre professionals, aspects of the work they have been exploring.

Rationale:

Residency programmes afford professionals time and space away from the demands of daily work life to carry out much needed professional development, with the emphasis on process rather than necessarily having the pressure of producing a finished body of work. Outside of traditional longer term training, a paid residency allows artists time for contemplative study and exploration. In the Barbadian context, there is much focus on the training of performers, however there are considerably fewer opportunities for those theatre artists with a special interest in directing to hone and develop their skills. Highly skilled, culturally aware and visionary directors are needed, as we move nationally to advance our cultural industries sector, and to enrich the quality of small and large scale staged events, whether drama, music, dance, or indeed multimedia events.

Greater awareness of Barbadian/Caribbean theatre form and style will serve to enhance the ideological and interpretive output of those up and coming directors on the local theatre scene, and equip them to create work that consciously and profoundly engages with Barbadian tradition. ‘Emerging Directors Residency’ offers an opportunity to design and apply staging concepts for ‘alternative spaces’, i.e. the “site-specific”, and otherwise environmental concept. It offers mentorship, access to archival material, and affords time for creativity.

Eligibility:

The ideal candidate should be a trained Barbadian theatre artist, who has directed between 1 and 4 plays.

Duration of Programme:

50 hours to be undertaken between November 6th – December 8th, 2017.

*Please note that your application must include a timeline mapping out your use of the set 50 hour period. While access to the Fresh Milk studio may be granted in addition to this timetable which may inform the work, it would be considered as work done outside of the parameters of the residency

Application process:

Prospective candidates can apply with the completed application form (which includes a bio/artist statement, project proposal and detailed timetable outlining the 50-hours of the residency, and can be downloaded here), full CV and portfolio, writing samples from your director’s notebook and 2-3 critical (newspaper, peer or academic) reviews of recent work to the National Cultural Foundation, Theatre Arts Office at the email address lisa-cumberbatch@ncf.bb before midnight on Wednesday, October 18th, 2017. They will be interviewed by a panel comprising NCF and Fresh Milk officials.

The successful candidate for the residency will be offered a stipend of $1,000.00 BBD. The mentor will spend 10 hours in total with the resident over each 50 hour residency. The resident will have access to two actors for 15 hours to experiment and/or create work. At the end of the residency period, there will be a short, private showcase where the resident can share aspects of the work they have been contemplating with a small audience of invited theatre professionals.

Expectations:

In addition to the 50 hours spent at Fresh Milk, each resident will be required to keep a weekly blog of text and images documenting their thoughts and processes which will be shared on the Fresh Milk website. At the close of the residency, each resident will also be required to submit a report according to Fresh Milk and the NCF’s guidelines.

Nyugen Smith’s Residency – Final Blog Post

US-based interdisciplinary artist Nyugen Smith shares his final blog post about his recently completed residency at Fresh Milk. Nyugen’s last post takes the form of poetic musings, looking at experiences he had in Barbados and how they informed his views and his work. Further images and texts expanding on some of his performance pieces – including an intervention held at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society in collaboration with Barbadian artist Llanor Alleyne and a live performance done at FRESH MILK XXI – will follow. Read more here:

FRESH MILK XXI – Photo by Dondré Trotman

Day 26

Everyday –
Rising just after the sun
after four maybe 5 hours of rest,
my body follows mind into action
as I ask the day for all that’s good.

I am going home.
-soon.
it was about a month of
open receptors
toward the external
and internal.
what has happened
in the twenty-eight days?
what have I learned?
what have I given
shared
created
destroyed

in the process?

I remembered to rest
to eat well
to drink plenty water
to carry water

-each day-

the sun showered bodies
moving
in the outdoors.
some sought shade in bush
-in ways their DNA recalled.
i’m still thinking about them
side
by
sturdy-bodied
side.

body of man + body of woman

quiet they sat
on concrete curved
holding the walk way.

their faces leaned close
to the broad leaves
and more leaves
rose above their heights and blocked light.

they were cooled.
~as if by blue light~
they were cooled.

just across the bridge
they were
a little distance from the fairchild bus depot-
where a steady stream
of loading and unloading

travelers

jostled to the tune
of signature horns
and conductors who
shouted down
man woman child
to the chorus of
multiple destinations.

load ’em up
load ’em up.

the twin seats always had three
and the ledge behind
the passenger riding shotgun
usually sat two.
the conductor stood
hunched over perspiring heads
they inhaled (usually) him
sometimes her ~(only once I saw)~

collecting crumpled cash
handed over
like the act
was powered by contempt
or ambivalence
or coolness
like the bills had little value
no matter the color.

though the rush
of the journey
in and out of town
fueled my spirit and
grounded the work
made there and
created sparks for more to come,
i was ready to be home.

**my residency culminated with a new performance in the fresh milk studio that was informed by much of what i had learned and experienced during my time in barbados. i also created and intervention at the barbados museum and historical society in collaboration with bajan artist, llanor alleyne. images of both are being organized to be coupled with writing and will be uploaded to my website soon**

thank you to the fresh milk team for the wonderful experience and for the invaluable network and resources provided. i am eternally grateful!
-One Love

___________________

This residency is supported by the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts

Nyugen Smith’s Residency – Third Blog Post

US-based interdisciplinary artist Nyugen Smith shares his third blog post about his recently completed residency at Fresh Milk. Nyugen reflects on part of his time in Barbados and the sensitivity of some of the issues he is attempting to unpack through his work, as he begins to navigate the history of the island in conjunction with the contemporary realities and nuances of its complex culture. Read more below:

___________________________

Day 6

I pity them greatly but I must be mum,
For how could we do without sugar and rum?
-William Cowper

Every night is a time to reflect on the events of that day, yesterday, and the day before that.

Today (6/9/17) is one day short of a week that I have been here in this place where there weren’t many places for a runaway to hide. Flat land. Coral rock holding points of pressure always a reminder that one day, almost all of this, if not the highest point of this mass, will look upwards to refractions of light filtered by a mix of salt and fresh water. I see shells at my feet in places that provide an overview of flowering fields, marveling at the magic produced by the perfect length of day. There isn’t much soil here. So I’ve heard. I couldn’t help but wonder how one buries the dead. My mind ran through the file of flora and fauna my eyes have registered since landing. To think that their roots do not run deep. Or maybe they possess the strength and capacity to carve their way through the limestone floor because they must.

I wondered. Every time that I see banks of this almost rock that flank the roads I travel, I want to measure the depth of dirt that rests atop like frosting on sponge cake slices. I am curious. Six or seven inches of soil is all it takes for “white gold” to situate itself in this part of what Andrea Stuart referred to as a “European world”, to the south and west of England’s winter.

…continued on 7/6/17 post-residency…

“It’s Complicated”… is a phrase that became popular on social media platforms as a way to describe relationships between two individuals when either one or both parties dance between acknowledging the other as a romantic/committed partner and not doing so. This could be due to reasons that may or may not include external pressures, unresolved prior romantic/committed relationships, apprehension to absorb one another’s “baggage”, lingering questions regarding long-term effects on one’s social status, fear of personal sacrifices that are inevitiable for the relationship to work, and or unaddressed psychological trauma that hinders one or both parties from being able to commit to the “long-haul” together.

As a guest in Barbados, the home of 285,750 people, I quickly became aware of topics of conversation that if spoken of, would complicate the weather underground and perhaps prompt the removal of lavalier microphones with a muttering of “we’re done here…” This early awareness was not derived from my own assumptions or conclusion drawn from tangential musings, but directly spoken to me by Bajan citizens. There was no mistaking the message bottled in the words…

f-f-f-f-f-f-fear
sen-s-s-s-s-sitive
am-m-m-m-ne-e-e-e-sia
e-e-era-a-a-sure
den-i-i-i-ial
protective-v-v-ve
in-secur-r-r-r-re
sus-s-s-spicion

…these words are like the togetherness of flies on a pile of shit
bothered by strong breeze
and boots barely too close.

bothered for good reason.
if spoken (topics) they do a number of things:

they
carry a threat of a future removal of the flies’ feast

they
add pressure that spreads the feast thin over a wider area, making it easier for more to take part in the spoils

they
carry the scent across a distance simultaneously attracting more to buzz about in the mess and causes others to close off parts of themselves as to not absorb any

they
smear the pile taking with them a trail wherever they go. at least – a small sample ends up in the home of the hot stepper

Despite the words of caution and warnings, I, the guest, stepped in the pile.
I, the guest, was smearing, spreading, and stirring up the mess with the work I was doing.
There was one instance in particular where I was asked to stop.

To speak the name,
Barbados
is to spray the air
with a mist of sea salt and
the smell of green-
for bush and deep waters are never far.

To speak its name
is to swaddle the body with hospitality
and rock it with musical vibrations of the region.

To speak its name
is to draw from its wells of intellectual tradition.

But you cannot speak the name,
Barbados
without the bitter taste of
black death soaked
in the juice of Saccharum officinarum
lingering on lips
warmed by the Caribbean sun.

For sugarcane to have earned the moniker “white gold”, scientific means had to have been employed to develop and improve its quality, while maximizing its production. There were people at the helm of this scientific research. Parallel to this timeline that ensured the success and longevity of the sugarcane industry, existed a systematically constructed labor force comprised of enslaved Africans and their descendants. The success of the plantation system (slavery) in Barbados was a model for the colonies in North America. As sugarcane was and is selectively bred, enslaved Africans and their descendants born into slavery in Barbados were also bought and sold-their value determined by their physical attributes and skills. I am intrigued by the historical and contemporary societal relationships between the two and plan to investigate this and the sensitivity of these matters more in my practice.

Engaging in conversations about this, is not for the ill-prepared. Preparation is a must. Patience must be had, composure maintained and its important for all engaged parties to be present with a willingness to bridge gaps of understanding within “the complicated”. If not now… when?

____________________________

This residency is supported by the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts

Letitia Pratt’s Residency – Third Blog Post

Bahamian writer Letitia Pratt shares her third blog post about her Fresh Milk residency. This week, Letitia took the time to get out of her own head and experience Barbados is different ways to overcome her writer’s block. This exploration, coupled with inspiration gleaned from reading Shivanee Ramlochan‘s ‘Everyone Knows I am a Haunting’ proved to be the breakthrough she needed to continue writing about the folkloric Hag Woman in her poetry. Read more here:

This week, I went exploring. Stir crazy from the isolation of my own head, I decided to give myself a break and travel all over the island. I thought it would be good to do this because I was having trouble formulating the narrative of my poem, and a break was necessary to gather my thoughts.

My week started off with an island tour that Natalie McGuire took Nyugen and I on. We were able to watch the island come alive through her lead. With good company, I allowed the spirit of the island to speak to me. We explored caves and cavernous cliffs that overlooked the sea at the east and north points of the island. It was a beautiful thing to experience, and from the natural beauty of this place, I was able to find some melody to my writing. But it wasn’t quite there yet.

During the week I decided to go walking around in Bridgetown. The bustling activity of the place immediately overwhelmed me. It was quite different from the silent stillness of Walkers Dairy and reminded me of the hullabaloo of Downtown Nassau. Because of this, I found it kind of homey as I walked through the busy crowds that were ambling towards shops. I visited libraries, souvenir shops, produce markets, and stalls on Swan Street. The Bridgetown atmosphere was definitely invigorating, but did not unblock the words I needed for the piece.

Feeling frustrated I confided in Sonia Williams, a Barbadian performance artist, theatre director, writer, and educator in Theatre Arts at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, about the construction of my Hag Woman character. She suggested, because the character was so connected to the woods and trees of her environment, that I immerse myself in the woodsy areas of Barbados for inspiration. So one morning, pulling on my T-Shirt and very long jeans, I ventured into the woodsy trees that surrounded Walkers dairy. The stillness of these woods inspired some of the words for my poem. I was able to indulge in what my protagonist would be able to see when she transforms herself, and her voice came passionately.

When I left the woods I felt reassured. I knew the words were coming. But I needed a bit more help, and Annalee was able to provide some for me. Later on in the day, she gave me a copy of Everybody Knows I am Haunting by Trinidadian writer Shivanee Ramlochan. Her words were vivid enough to fuel dreams and spark my imagination. The story of the Hag Woman comes from the inspiration I gathered from reading this book. It came from those dreams.

After all the exploring, all the reading, my piece began to take on form. I was delighted. Again, I would like to thank Annalee and Katherine for letting me indulge in this amazing experience here at Fresh Milk. The Hag Woman and I are immensely grateful.