Mini TVE presentation with Third Horizon Media at the Miami Book Fair

On Monday, November 12th, 2018 Third Horizon Media, Miami, collaborated with the Fresh Milk led initiative Transoceanic Visual Exchange (TVE) to curate a small screening of a selection of video/film work by Caribbean artists as part of their contribution to the 2018 Miami Book Fair.

This mini edition of TVE featured work by Adam Patterson (Barbados), Rhea Storr (The Bahamas/UK), Sandra Vivas (Venezuela), Alberta Whittle (Barbados/UK), Nick Whittle (Barbados/UK) and Anisah Wood (Barbados).

Transoceanic Visual Exchange is a selection of video art by artists practicing in the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands and their diasporas. This edition of TVE was coordinated by The Fresh Milk Art Platform (Barbados) in partnership with Footscray Community Arts Centre (Melbourne, Australia) in 2017, with additional screenings taking place in collaboration with Deakin University (Melbourne, Australia) and Third Horizon Media (Miami, USA) in 2018.

Click here to see the PDF of the event program:

____________

About Third Horizon Media:

Third Horizon is a Miami-based Caribbean filmmaking collective and media company dedicated to capturing the sights and sounds of the Caribbean and the so-called “third world.” The collective’s projects have screened at festivals around the world, including Sundance, Toronto International (TIFF), International Film Festival Rotterdam and Sheffield Documentary Festival, among others.

The collective also stages the annual Third Horizon Film Festival, which aims to empower and celebrate fellow filmmakers and projects focused on the Caribbean, the Diasporas that formed it, and the Diasporas formed by it.

_____________

About The Miami Book Fair:

The Miami Book Fair is an annual literary festival event realized in Miami by Miami Dade College.

The fair, which has become a model for other fairs across the country, brings over 300 renowned national and international authors exhibitors to a weeklong celebration of all things literary and includes pavilions for translation, comics, children, and young adults.The mission of Miami Book Fair International is to promote reading, encourage writing, and heighten an awareness of literacy and the literary arts in the city’s multi-ethnic community.The eight-day book festival has draws hundreds of thousands of book lovers to downtown Miami each November for a festival of all things read and written.

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.

Performance Art @ Fresh Milk II St. George Barbados by Yasmine Espert

Fullbright Scholar Yasmine Espert shares her thoughts on the Fresh Milk II event:

Performance Art @ Fresh Milk II
St. George, BARBADOS.

This is Sandra Vivas. And believe it or not, this (was) performance art. The only thing missing from this image is the elegy she belted out as she bathed herself in fresh, uncooked eggs.

I tried to put the protein aside and focus on the poem she laced with resentment but…

1. I was confounded by the use of eggs. During the performance, I kept asking myself: is she really going to use the whole dozen?

2. She chose to speak in Spanish. I was able to grasp a line here and there (thank you high school/college español), but for the most part, I was lost between her garbled words and the occasional egg yolk that landed in her mouth.

Did she plan this? Why aim for the grotesque?

Vivas’ performance did result in a few chuckles from the audience. I’m not sure if that was her intention — but I am sure that she got my attention. Later that night I came across an English translation of her piece. Like many of her works, it gave a fascinating, albeit bizarre, unveiling of the issues women face today (take a look at her YouTube page for more)

Leandro Soto, a contemporary Cuban performance artist (aka “the first performance artist de Cuba) told me that performance art is about the now…”you never choreograph. You always trust in the moment.”

No matter what your (political) message is, you have to confide in improvisation. Even if it means you have to bathe in raw eggs.

Imagine if we all approached life that way.

Food For Thought

© Carlie Ester Pipe

 

Sandra Vivas performance piece at Fresh Milk

On Saturday, November 19th Fresh Milk offered Barbados a taste of performance art. Coming to us with the distinct Venezuelan flavour of Sandra Vivas, an inspirational performance artist from Caracas, we were given the opportunity to consume art in a whole new way.

Performance art, is an abstruse concept. In my humble understandings (for I’m a writer, not a historian) what I will ignorantly-just-for-this-essay call “regular art” is easier to define and therefore control. It’s trappable between the edges of the canvas, the brushstrokes that are created at 4.55pm on Tuesday are then frozen in time and so remain until they are destroyed. The author will not outlive her work, and she may hide from it, reject it, and walk away from it. In essence, “regular art” is a tangible, touchable creation that is confined to a four sided parallelogram that may never be altered from the day it was birthed, and may be viewed in exactly the same state by anyone, anywhere, at any given moment.

Performance art, on the other hand, is intangible. The author IS the performance, and for that reason she can never walk away from her piece. She is the piece. She is not confined to a canvas, she is only restricted to the 3D limitations of our perceptions of the realm in which we live. Though her performance may be viewed (live) again and again and again…it will never be the same twice. What we viewed on Saturday, she may well have performed in likeness elsewhere, but given the environment, audience, available props and humanity of the author, it was unique.

Sandra’s piece was the first act of performance art that I have ever encountered in person. For those of you unfortunate enough not to be there, this is my opinion of what happened:

Sandra stood in front of a wooden table with two dozen eggs. One by one, she cracked the eggs on the table, and poured the raw, slimy viscera over her face and lamented loudly:

According to you, I’m the bad one. Your poisonous words have hurt me, your vampire speech has hurt me, and according to you, I’m the bad one.

That’s not verbatim, that’s the gist. Her speech was in Spanish and her movements methodical. The eggs, a symbol of dreams not brought to fruition, life that could not be fulfilled, are dashed, cracked, and she is punished as the slime which symbolizes the hurtful words of “you” are poured all over her. There is pain in the relationship between herself and this “you” she refers to. We the audience are feeling her anguish, and watching her be mocked in this monotonous and repetitive punishment.

But, there is a catch. Sandra says, “I came out ahead.” Repeating this line at the end of her verses, her pain suddenly changes into pleasure.

The eggs she cracks allow her to break out of her shell, and away from this tormentuous “you”. She’s no longer pouring slime on her head, she’s nourishing her body and mind with yolk. Sandra becomes more confident and slowly but surely, she has cracked twenty-two of the two dozen eggs. The two remaining eggs are left in opposite crates, alone but separate. This separation represents the separation of herself, from “you”. By the time the final egg has been cracked and fed to her body, she is lavishing in its maternal yolk, and welcomes it into her mouth. Then, with a cheeky lifting of her skirt to show off glowing panties, she taunts the audience and reminds us that she indeed came out ahead.
The raw and hurtful words that “you” inflicted upon her, in the end only made her a stronger woman.

Sandra’s performance was the icing on the cake, but it certainly wasn’t all that was on the menu. Fresh Milk also presented to us an idea of what it is like to be an artist in residence, with talks by Ewan Atkinson, Sheena Rose, Mark King and Joanna Crichlow, as well as a video presentation by Annalee Davis’ final year fine arts students at BCC. Though they all had varied experiences, suffice to say that being in residency sounds like a vacation of creation. Yes, “creating” can be hard work, but how many of us have the privilege to be a full time artist? Quite a few of us, myself included, are full time clerks-managers-sales reps-whatever and part time when-we-have-the-time artists. Listening to these four artists recant their experiences in residency was inspirational. It made me think of how important “space” is to an artist, and more importantly, how important our space should be to Government and society on a whole.

Artists, in order to all be able to explore, create, inspire and develop our culture, need spaces to inhabit, and there are simply not enough. Thankfully, we have Fresh Milk to continue to nourish our intellects and souls with its food for thought.