Pinky and Emigrante / Alicia Milne and Luis Vasquez La Roche Open Ateliers Zuidoost Aritst in Residence July - August 2013
This report outlines the experience of Alicia Milne and Luis Vasquez (Pinky and Emigrante) at the Open Ateliers Zuid Oost artist in residence (OAZO-AIR) in Amsterdam Zuid Oost in July and August 2013. This opportunity followed a visit by OAZO-AIR’s curator, Sasha Dees, to Trinidad as curator in residence at Alice Yard in 2011. Christopher Cozier (director of Alice Yard) and Sasha selected us for this residency in turn. The residency had two main aims: to allow for the production of work stemming from experiencing Bijlmermeer where the joint studio and living space was located in Amsterdam and to use the residency as an opportunity to gain as much exposure to the arts as this was our first trip to Europe. The international exchange was in part possible by the Ministry of Arts and Multicultrualism in Trinidad and the Prince Claus Fund’s Ticket Grant. Additional funding was also sourced through crowdfunding. Upon our arrival in Amsterdam we met Sasha Dees and a full schedule for the following two weeks to attend various openings, lectures, galleries, studio visits and performances which included: degree shows of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Academie Minerva and Sangberg Institute, visit at the De Ateliers Academie with current resident Mila Lanfermeijer, visiting and viewing the video works of Simone Bennet at the Berm Collectief, performance from MYOGRAPHY by Daniela Bershan at de Appel Arts Centre, Farida Sedou’s In God We Trust exhibition at Ultra de la Rue, a tour of On Fresh Soil at W139 art space by Jabu Arnell, studio visits with Yaima Carrazana, Loidys Carnero and Imre Bergmann and attending Virulent Still Life at the Tropen Museum. During our first week in Amsterdam we had a presentation of our work and the work of Alice Yard at Centrum Beeldende Kunst Zuidoost (CBK ZO) gallery. At the presentation, which was hosted by Uniarte (Sharelly Emanuelson) and curator Annet Zondervan of CBK ZO gallery, we had the opportunity to meet other artists working in the community as well as other artists and curators with networks in Aruba, Venezuela and New York. These initial contacts resulted in many studio visits during our residency. We believe that our work was well received and enjoyed the discussion following. Cover image: Pinky and Emigrante Danger tape installation, Amsterdam Top image: Alicia Milne and Luis Vasquez La Roche presentation at CBK Gallery Bottom image: from left to right Alicia Milne, Annet Zondervan, Sasha Dees, Raquel Van Haver, Luis Vasquez La Roche and Joshua Vasilda.
We wanted to utilise our time as best as possible while in Europe and take advantage of the relative close proximity of galleries, museums and other cultural sites in nearby cities and countries. In Amsterdam, we saw works at the Van Gough Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Rijksmuseum and Scheepvaartmuseum. Also very notable was a visit and tour of the Rijksakademie with current resident Crystal Campbell. In the Netherlands we travelled to Groningen and Rotterdam where we were able to visit Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the opening of Manumission at Roodkapje Rot(t)erdam and meet the show’s curator Shehera Grot. We also travelled to Paris, France for a day by bus and visited Palais de Tokyo, Musée d’Art Moderne and Center Pompidou as well as other famous national monuments. It was a happy convenience that we were there during retrospectives of Roy Lichtenstein and Keith Haring. In Germany we went to Berlin, Essen, Koln and Oberhausen and saw works at the Berlin Wall, Museum Ludwig, Folkwang Museum and Christo’s Big Air Package at the Gasometer. Towards the end of our trip we were fortunate enough to stay in Venice, Italy for three days for the Venice Biennale. That experience was definitely one of the major highlights of the residency. Top image: Keith Harings work at Museum of Modern Art Paris Bottom left image: Jabu Arnell work at Gallery W139, Amsterdam Bottom right image: Henrique Olivieras work at Palais de Tokyo, Paris
In our studio we were both developing individual projects and working together. I (Alicia) spent some of my time experimenting with self-portraiture drawing and painting which I have continued working on in Trinidad. This has been new to me as I usually work with clay and dry drawing media. Luis collected many hours of footage in Amsterdam and particularly the de Bijlmer, which he has continued editing here in Trinidad. I also collected footage to experiment with. We both are working on one-minute shorts that are to be screened at Metro Movies at Bullewijk Metrostation in October 2013. Our main collaborative project during the residency as Pinky and Emigrante was a print project titled Postcards from the New Republic. This project was heavily influenced by our interactions and observations of persons we met and daily life in de Bijlmer. The residents there mostly have an immigrant background connected to Suriname or the former Dutch Antilles. In this playful project, we created a series of postcards and posters that poke at relations between the former colonizer and colonies that now make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Upon investigating the national symbols of the former Netherlands Antilles, we decided to redesign the coat of arms of Aruba and Curaçao by removing European elements and replacing with imagery that had more of an island context. Images of the new coat of arms are combined in postcard and poster form with photographs of the Netherlands landscape, but labeled as an Antillean country. The print project makes one think about a hypothetical role reversal in Dutch colonial history and notions of ownership and control. The prints were on display in our studio window where ‘Free postcards from the islands’ were given away. The cards were also secretly inserted in the display racks of tourist postcards in the city centre. The postcards are available for anyone who wishes to receive one via post.
Top image: Screenshot from Luis Vasquezs video “The_perception” Bottom image: Drawing by Alicia Milne
Republic Of Curaรงao
Republic Of Aruba
Top left: Poster from Postcard from the New Republic, Amsterdam Top right: Republic of Curaรงao postcard in plaed in Amsterdams souvenir postcard rack. Bottom left: Republic of Aruba postcard in Alice Yard, Trinidad Bottom right: Redesigned coat of Arms of Aruba and Curaรงao.
The opportunity that this residency presented has been valuable in so many ways. Firstly we cannot overstate how beneficial it was to be allowed the time and space to pause our daily lives and jobs and develop work and explore a new culture in a new environment; this in itself has been immensely rewarding. I feel that through introductions by Sasha Dees we were able to interact with persons throughout the spectrum of the visual arts in Amsterdam from small community artist groups like ALAS in Heesterveld to residents at prestigious institutions such as de Ateliers and Rijksakademie. Viewing older works at many of the museums throughout the cities we visited has been strangely exciting to see and observe the actual works we were familiar with from our textbooks while studying art in the Caribbean. We observed a correlation with the scale of the work and the environment. European works generally tend to be on a large scale; this contrasted greatly with the smaller works that are often found in small Caribbean galleries. It was impressive to view many fully realised works and observe the materials and techniques used. This was especially true of the works at the national pavilions and curated shows at the Venice biennale where we saw a very broad and diverse range of fine art. We noticed, particularly at graduation shows at various art schools, that in essence the ideas and works were not that different from what we see coming out of schools in Trinidad. This was refreshing, as often in the Caribbean, there is the assumption that the quality of work is far superior in Europe and we saw for our selves that this is not necessarily true. The major difference that we saw with the work coming out of art schools was the administrative and infrastructural support that was available for the students; something that was very much lacking from our art school experience in Trinidad. Also of note, was how few paintings we saw in fine art departments and how many artists are working instead with installation and, more interestingly, new media. This is something I would like to see happening more in the Caribbean.
Top Image: Belgian Pavilionin at the Venice Biennale Bottom image: Jeroen Eisingas video work in the Boijmans Museum, Rotterdam.
Now that we are back in Trinidad we have both continued developing the work that we started during the residency. Having seen the work coming out of postgraduate and residency programs in the Netherlands I am particularly interested in applying to a masters program in fine art so I am currently building my portfolio in preparation for this. After learning more about other islands outside of the Anglophone Caribbean, Luis is very interested in doing more residencies in the region and is currently researching possibilities. And of course we will continue developing projects together as Pinky and Emigrante. All in all, this opportunity has been invaluable to our artistic development in ways that are difficult to describe. From the experience of living in another country, to the daily encounters and conversations with people in the community that share a similar yet different colonial history, to viewing older works and what is currently happening in art schools, galleries and museums and to making contacts and networking with artists and curators, this experience has been one that will leave a lasting impression not only affecting our artistic practice but our world view beyond the Caribbean.
Top right: Pinky and Emigrante Danger installtion in Biljmer, Amsterdam Bottom right : Luis Vasquez La Roche at the studio space, Amsterdam.