CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD THE eMAGAZINE
Produced by Richard Rawlins, Draconian Switch publisher/designer, the limited 5 issue monthly ROCKSTONE & BOOTHEEL eMAGAZINE for the exhibit runs from November 2009 – March 2010 . Look out for a new issue by the 14th of every month.
Click here for exhibition information.
Losing your head in the Photobooth
By Dave Williams
In my time in the “arts” in Trinidad & Tobago, I‘ve come to notice an interesting shift in the power and pursuits of artists. According to artist, Christopher Cozier, “artistic enterprise was about rendering or representing an inventory prescribed as Caribbean”. Consequently, artists produced works that were also intended to be inventory – made for sale. Today, however, in ‘e’ environment where the www has forever altered the transactive processes of the arts landscape, artistic practice has become more than just paints and canvas and exhibitions. Additionally, given the widely perceived shrinking of ambitions and voices of journalists, social scientists, teachers, priests, shrinks and operatives in every other social institution, artists are stepping in and filling the void.
Dhiradj Ramsamoedj / Kwatta / Paramaribo
Dhiradj Ramsamoedj’s Adji Gilas ( photo Christopher Cozier )
Notes from Paramaribo Span September 2009
A few examples of Dhiradj Ramsamoedj’s Adji Gilas cups are placed on the red-oxide-coloured floor of his studio. This is a typical painted floor for a house in Kwatta, west of central Paramaribo, and this looks like a typical cup. We could be in Trinidad or Guyana. He is explaining to me that “adji” means maternal grandmother, and that these aluminium mugs were from her once-active business renting wares for festivities and other events.
Hiding and Seeking with Tonya Wiles
‘tongue’ 2008. Porcelain wash basin, leather, tongue. Dimensions variable.
I initially saw Tonya Wiles’s work at her first solo show, which opened at the Zemicon Gallery in Bridgetown on June 7, 2009. One week later, I attended her talk at which, according to Tonya, she wanted to “explain” her body of work to the Barbadian audience.
Her exhibition Hide and Seek played with established local norms about viewing art in a gallery space. I asked Tonya how different it was for her to locate her work in Barbados versus situating it in the UK, where she had spent the last three years. She felt that given the greater exposure of a UK gallery culture predisposed to understanding contemporary work, returning to Barbados forced her to ask the question, “Is art viewing universal?”
She wondered if the work made sense in a Barbadian context, and we spoke about how the work functions differently in the two spaces. UK-based viewers might be well exposed to, and therefore more comfortable interacting with, objects like Tonya’s in a gallery space, whereas in the Barbadian context the work reveals a tension. Hide and Seek exposed the conformity of a small, conservative, insular island society that prefers to know the rules of the game before playing. Members of the audience, Tonya told me, not sure what to do with her work, sought explanation from her before engaging or participating.
Gun – Hemoglobin tastes like hate, that’s what demons love / Mixed media on paper, 38″ x 50″, 2008
“Concerned with the growing violence among youth occurring in the city I approached spoken word artist Joseph Daly and asked that he write a poem inventing an imaginary world where similar problems occur. These drawings depict a confused world searching for answers. Through strange and suggestive imagery they share the various emotions felt upon hearing that another young man has been killed by gun violence.” Sandra Brewster
One would assume, from reading published reports in the Canadian press and from watching news reports on television that the Canadian public had reached the apex of its outrage and tolerance over gun violence in December of 2005, the year that Jane Creba was killed. (Creba was a white teenager who was fatally shot while out shopping with her family on Boxing Day after being caught in the crossfire of gunplay between warring gang members). While we remember the name and face of Jane Creba, the names of countless racialized others who have been felled, injured or traumatized by gang-related violence have disappeared from public memory.
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Everywhere we go, it seems that advertisements are progressively invading our public and private spaces. We are constantly being bombarded with messages trying to persuade us to consume a certain product or brand. Billboards hovering over crowded highways are a perfect example of this effort in mass consumption. According to Guy Debord in The Society of the Spectacle, “the concept of the spectacle, taking the form of advertisements or propaganda, is a social relationship among people mediated by images.” The image consequently becomes the propulsor of urban conversations and discussions. The artist Jason Mena tries to do just that. In his photographic series Urban Landscapes, Mena appropriates the billboard, a space usually pertaining to advertisers, and transforms it into an active platform for the promotion of ideas.
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A Walk in the Night
Photo courtesy Wendel Fernandez
“…Walk Into the Night was inspired by the history of the Cape Town Carnival and was intended to obliquely tell the story of the forced removals in Cape Town. It was billed an “invisible masquerade” – a processional shadow play, with various elements worn or carried by a multitude of participants, casting shadows onto horizontal and vertical planes along the itinerary of the procession, from hand-held white screens, to buildings, the sidewalk and the ground, participants and audience.”
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Catherine Matos Olivo: The Exploration of Self
( Guardia de Seguridad ) Trabajo = Trabajo / postcard edition 2008
” …In these photographs, the artist is caught in the act of some everyday scenario in the work life of an average person. These acts consist of different roles such as feeding a number of cats, working as a cashier at a store and piercing a client at a tattoo shop. I began to wonder if in fact it was an artwork. However, a closer look revealed the ideas behind the work and more importantly gave rise to many questions regarding art and its relationship with everyday life. At what point do we draw the line between art and everyday experience? What makes these photographs worthy of such reflection?… ”