ARC Magazine issue 2

Page 1

ISSUE 02 // APRIL 2011


Letter from

The Founders

This is a call to action. For far too long we have been disconnected. Though waves separate us, we must find a way to unify and bring together our disparate parts to realize what we are within this expanding maze. After all, there is no complete observation or understanding until the whole is present. If this fracture continues and we remain unable to repair, bond or move as one unit, what will unite our experience? One troubling and disconcerting communiqué received during the dispersal of ARC was that it wasn’t really showing ‘real art’. Whatever that means, and who determines such, is still very much trapped within archaic and structured systems that have governed how we see and experience art. The awareness of subjectivity, thankfully, saves us from the backlash of defining what real art is or who controls its discourse. Are we going to rely on the intellectuals to break it down for us, or are we going to look at the system and steal some of its power boldly? Use its extensive history and contextual vocabulary to also speak about our changing Caribbean? Do we not all have the power and freedom to establish new models, new ways of looking at what is out there and considering what is relevant and important to our experiences as creators? As we battle the changing landscape of how we receive and disseminate information, our modes of operation are changing quickly and becoming more democratic. For ARC to remain important and critical means we will have to keep our toes in many incongruous pools and pull what is pertinent to its centre (we become warriors and rebels with a cause). Issue II brings together the work of Andrea Chung, a Jamaican visual artist, who takes an ironic look at tourism and its neo constructs in the Caribbean. Writer and critic Annie Paul has partnered with Chung to bring a haunting vision to life. ‘A Hand Full of Dirt’, the first feature by Barbadian filmmaker Russell Watson, is broken down to its core and examines funding and organizational structures in place to bring Caribbean filmmaking into 2011. Dalton Narine’s occupation with Peter Minshall’s practice presents a poetic revelation of an artist who for decades lost himself in his creations. Detailing Minshall in his incompleteness and genius, Narine provokes, tempts and enchants us with the power of mas. We also make way for the new. Our featured artist Brianna McCarthy’s collage and paper constructions strive to redefine our views of the Afro-Caribbean woman; working within repetition and beauty she constructs patterns that challenge the notions of its definition. Haitian artist Manuel Mathieu’s Oeuvre is in the making and we expose it, where all good fictions, narratives and observations start, at the beginning. His paintings and drawings embrace a chaos and disorder, and memory colliding with form. With this collection of work we are attempting to understand our dispersal and the potential of ARC’s collective ideologies and content. Larger ideas of supporting emerging artists throughout the duration of their careers will be our first step in defining the collaborative space we occupy. If this be your second or first, you have our gratitude.

Holly Bynoe

Nadia Huggins


Contributors _Meet the team


Tracy Assing is a writer, photographer and filmmaker based in Trinidad. Her work has been published in the Caribbean Review of Books and Caribbean Beat magazine. Her first documentary film, The Amerindians, premiered at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival in 2010.

Andre Bagoo is a photo-journalist who lives in Trinidad. He is also a poet and writer whose work has been published in journals such as Boston Review and the Caribbean Review of Books. In 2005 he was shortlisted for a Derek Walcott Writing Prize. Last year he participated in the Cropper Foundation’s Writers Workshop.

Holly Bynoe is a Vincentian visual artist and writer based in New York City. She is a recent graduate of Bard College International Center of Photography where she earned her M.F.A. in Advanced Photographic Studies. Her work has been shown regionally and internationally.


Contributors Photography and Artwork Courtesy: Callaloo Co. Jeffrey Chock Nadia Huggins Mark Lyndersay - The National Art Gallery Committee Clayton Rhule William Tsang

Nadia Huggins is a digital photographer from St. Vincent & the Grenadines who has been specializing in documentary and conceptual photography for over eight years. She has been featured in several online and print publications internationally and is part of the Depthcore Collective.

Nicholas Laughlin is the editor of the Caribbean Review of Books. He is also co-director of Alice Yard, a contemporary art space and network based in Port of Spain, and co-editor of the broadside literature and art journal Town. He was born and has always lived in Trinidad.

Dalton Narine is a Trinidadian-born writer and film producer, and has won six awards on three continents for his latest film, Mas Man Peter Minshall. Narine was a feature writer for the Village Voice, Miami Herald, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and Ebony. He received awards at Ebony and the Herald.

© 2011 by ARC Magazine. All rights reserved. For more information on ARC visit email: Printed in Iceland by Oddi Text: 150 gr UPM Finesse Silk Cover: 250 gr. Ensogloss Cover Image by Brianna McCarthy Inside Cover by Dhiradj Ramsamoedj Inside Back Cover by Manuel Mathieu Back Cover by Brianna McCarthy


Annie Paul is a writer and critic based at the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she is head of the Publications Section at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies. She was one of the founding editors of Small Axe. She has been published in international in journals and magazines such as Callaloo and Bomb.

Our appreciation is extended to the International Center of Photography Museum and School, CCCADI, MoCADA, labotanica, Readytex Art Gallery, Alice Yard, Nicholas Laughlin, Sean Leonard, Christopher Cozier, Paper Based Bookstore, Bocas Lit Fest committee, Art Caribbean, Grenada Arts Council, Jujube Bookstore, The Bequia Bookshop, Sunshine Bookshop, AllianceFrancaise de Sainte-Lucie, Island Art Gallery, The Milking Parlour Studios, The University Bookshop, The Booksource, Celia Sorhaindo, The Calibishi Tourism Centre, Bolivar Gallery, Bookophilia, HiQo Gallery, National Gallery of Jamaica, The Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, Chapter One Bookstore, and Best of Books for taking on the distribution of ARC throughout each space and island. To Gus FranklynBute, Matthew Carson, Ivette Romero, Phillip Block, Marieke Visser, Headphunk, Shantrelle P Lewis, Amanda Gooding, Takeyra Herbert, ODDI, Tracy Assing, Pam Ratti, Ville Kansanen, Justin Maller, Tara Cronin Zoe Williams, Therese Hadchity, Nerys Rudder, Janyne Golia and Ira Bynoe. To our writers and artists, without your contribution our pages and experience would be poor indeed. ARC is dedicated always to the ones we hold dearest here and beyond.



06 Not Slavish Reproductions _The Gradient

14 Peter Minshall: The Mas Man As Caribbean Storyteller

22 Whale Song _Poems by Vanessa Simmons

_Artist on Artist

24 Art & Politics

30 Collections

_Stanley Greaves’ ‘There is a Meeting here Tonight’ series

_Rodell Warner, Gerard Hanson, Manuel Mathieu

64 Home Grown

70 Dhiradj Ramsamoedj: portrait of the artist


_The Gradient

80 Spotlight

82 Artist List

_Collection of work from emerging artists.


50 Beyond the Blade & Ink _Brianna McCarthy

76 Method to the Madness _Interview with Interdisciplinary Artist Clayton Rhule



I first came across Chung’s work in a 2008 lecture given by Krista Thompson on tropicalization and photographic representations of slavery.2 The images Thompson showed were from the May Day series, the forerunner of Thongs. In these seven images Chung neatly abstracts the workers who are in most cases the subjects of the photographs, leaving labourer-shaped white blanks in what were essentially advertisements aimed at attracting tourists to the former plantations. With this Chung effectively yanks attention to these missing bodies and simultaneously to the backgrounds that they’ve been neatly excised from. As Krista Thompson observed in An Eye on the Tropics, “That the islands and their native populations were fit to be photographed offered an additional degree of assurance to travelers that ‘the natives’ and the landscape were tamed, safe, and framed for their visual consumption.”3 Thompson also notes that part of the picturesque image being promoted was the ‘colonies’ reputation as disciplined societies. It is this representational paradigm that Chung is interested in deconstructing and dismantling.

I also want the viewer to think about what existed here before the resorts. I find it particularly interesting that they are often built on former plantations.

According to Chung, “The May Day series came about while I was making a few sculptures that investigated labour and the foodstuffs that were exported out of the Caribbean as a result of this labour. I was looking through various archives to find images of the labourers and their work environments and trying to decide how I could honour those who worked so hard. I knew that I couldn’t permanently remove them from their work environments so I thought I would give them a day off.” In the six images that make up Thongs: Experience the Luxury Included, Chung pursues her meditation on labour by inserting the abstracted white labourer shapes into white backgrounds, creating spectral figures that seem to float ethereally; meanwhile, the objects they’re holding are reproduced in black and white thus emphasizing their materiality and objecthood. Created during a residency at the Brandywine Workshop under the direction of Allan Edmunds and master printer Bob Thompson, the six prints are a bit of a departure from Chung’s earlier work, which flirts with collage, montage and bricolage. I asked her about the process involved in creating the Thongs series.

2 3

“Archaeologies of Black Memory” Conference and Seminar, University of Miami in conjunction with Small Axe, June 22-29, 2007. An Eye for the Tropics: Tourism, Photography, and Framing the Caribbean Picturesque, by Krista A. Thompson (Duke University Press, 2007. P. 17.

Artists ought to be judged by their work. For example, hear Minsh on the hue of his band, Picoplat: “Just the repetition of a theme changing the colours from deep ultramarines into the explosion of Saldenha’s orange, black and white, bringing it back to a kinda sapodilla brown mixed with pommerac pink, but right after that a sour pomme cite colour and you’re just orchestrating the colour, and all the movement was like Waltzing Matilda to a hot calypso beat, and no two people dancing the same – but all were in a kind of synchronized wonderment as they floated across the stage.” Even when he uncaged Picoplat it appeared as birds that squeak like a door in the wind, the mas blending with flying colours. It was perhaps the sweetest music in the Carnival. Look, I’m no shill for Minshall. My experiences embody the Carnival ideal. I’ve made mas and played mas. Gave it word and filmed its soul. For example, Mas Man concludes with Minshall’s capacity for empathy about HIV-AIDS in The Sacred Heart, a band of 300 or so, mounted in three weeks – performance art that inspired a thousand images and a million words. That’s the magic. Him. This conjurer of reality themes in fantasia.

“I do not for a moment doubt that the mas, more so the poem, the painting and the song, is absolutely water drawn from the well of the people,” he said at one time during the three-year filming of his portrait. One of those at the well, Mervyn Taylor, a poet, tells of a teacher who solicited students to draw what mas meant to them. “Everybody drew beauty. But a young boy drew an empty street with one character, a man in a sailor suit in the middle of the road, and the kid says to the teacher, ‘It’s the last mas going home.’ With Peter, that’s the sadness of it.” Even sadder, now that the music in the jewel box has worn down, who will hold the mirror to those that have pawned their conscience? Who will sustain the mas with an intravenous fix? Just in case, would that Minshall is polishing his looking glass this very moment for 2012! For one thing it’s an Olympic year. And that very well could ignite the sport of fate.



It’s like going to a bullfight and seeing an elephant running around.




Collections _Artists’ portfolios


The Meaning of Style _Gerard Hanson Jamaica/UK

The ideas behind my work are rooted in the movement of people. My intention is to explore and expose ideas of displacement, assimilation and exclusion, wrapped up in a duality of existence and identity. The work investigates and represents current generations who move back and forth from Jamaica. The representation of these journeys, people and places is of historic and contemporary importance, something that I aim to bring to the surface in my art. Multiculturalism has brought us to a new juncture. Current generations of young people are now more aware than ever of the mix of nationality, race and culture surrounding them. Adults alike are seeking new ways of making sense of these complicated issues, feeling ‘out of place’, and at the same time bridging the overlap of cultural, racial and physical spaces we inhabit and exist within. Exploring these issues reveals many different signposts representing the past, present and future. Exposed is a generation searching for missing pieces of their cultural jigsaw, simultaneously finding acceptance and solace contrasted with rejection and torment. The many mixed influences and resulting otherness which are derived from the movement of people from one continent to another is a true reflection of the horrors of its origin: the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Such experiences are succinctly encapsulated in the offspring of mixed marriages who feel ‘out of place’ both ‘here and there’. The work is constructed from well-established forms of image making. Merging photography and painting creates a sense of visual unease, questioning the current dialogues of media imposition. One is not quite sure where the boundaries lie between art and design. The influence on artists of savvy collectors who inhabit a get-rich-quick era defined by ever decreasing attention spans, questions the integrity, authenticity and permissiveness within contemporary art.



Beyond the Blade & Ink _Brianna McCarthy


This is one of those things that I am always uncertain of – how to speak of work that exists outside of my experience, how to interact, observe and engage with its presence and manifestation in the world. Months ago, while ARC was becoming (it is after all still becoming), Nadia and I were mocking up covers – a collision of names and our masthead to accompany a small idea. This idea has extended into a sphere that is greater than the sum of our parts. We talked about featuring artists who weren’t quite ‘there’ yet, who, like us, are also becoming; creators who are fiddling and dealing with their own creative process. It seems serendipitous now to be heading into the work of Brianna McCarthy. McCarthy’s work doesn’t exist in galleries, contained spaces or within the contextual alignment of academia. The Internet has formalized itself as a democratic vehicle for artists to present their work; social media erases borders and McCarthy has been sharing her work with an ever-increasing circle of friends. She is a self-taught artist from Trinidad and Tobago and works through various media: collage, drawing, illustration and painting. With repetition and the utilization of the archetypical significance of the hybridized Afro-Caribbean female, there are hosts of dynamics to dissect in her work. It is easy to see what Jonathan Latham termed ‘The Ecstasy of Influence’ cascading throughout her art. Whether it is the iconographic use of ornamentation and repetition heralded by Edgar Degas, or, specifically, the methodology and aesthetic employed by numerous modernists and surrealists through collage and assemblage, McCarthy’s work borrows everything around her: her environment, its people, their behaviours and gestures. All of it presents itself as fodder for her obsessions, spontaneity and meticulousness. Views of the female are now contaminated, where AfroCaribbean-ness is contextualized and grounded within a Euro-centric and American frame of reference. Commercial and popular images present a particular philosophy on beauty and self, and include the prejudices that have seeped in from the indulgence of the ubiquitous nature of American media, more specifically, its effect on the idealized and objectified image of the woman. McCarthy’s women revolt against these trends. She assembles the fractions of her experiences, the imperfections of her characters evoking a poise and a pride that is often missing from the Caribbean woman. She has taken pencil to paper, ink to vellum and knife to cloth, to mend the parts of her understanding, to fill in the gaps with beauty, desire and expressions of the sensual and physical. McCarthy is an active participator in her own experience; she works to define her space and to permit herself to be included in the mirage of emerging artists who are combating elusive definitions. At 27, she comes from a long-standing matriarchal tradition where the everyday wears on and becomes mundane, peculiar, haunting, sorrowful and ritualistic.



24fps _a survey of established and experimental film works.

Home Grown by Tracy Assing

A revolution implies a break from the past. In the past, the Caribbean story on film flowed on the screen like tourist snapshots. Metropolitan filmmakers came for the weather and the atmosphere, choosing not to scratch the surface. Caribbean faces were part of the set, the characters no more than thugs or temptresses. For decades the narrative seemed stuck in this frame. Until Perry Henzell’s The Harder They Come, and the raw charisma of Jimmy Cliff that came bursting out in Technicolor. Perry presented the definitive portrait of his rainbow country at the time. Today Caribbean filmmakers are rising up. These dreamers have found their access supporting each other, with technological advancements and networks fed by Caribbean film festivals, as well as work supported by Caribbean governments, who understand the importance of this language. This doesn’t mean it is an easy road but there is resilience, there is resistance, and there is a passion to tell our own stories, a drive to get them on the screen. A Hand Full of Dirt, the debut feature film by Barbadian Russell Watson, opened the Caribbean Tales Film Festival (CTFF), Symposium and Marketplace. The CTFF is the brainchild of Caribbean Tales Worldwide Distribution (CTWD) CEO Frances-Anne Solomon, a filmmaker herself. Watson, a graduate of the Edna Manley School of Drama in Jamaica,

with an MFA from the School of the Arts Institute in Chicago, establishes a clear understanding of the language of film and appreciation for light and sound in this work. What emerges is a harmonious conversation between the storyteller and the subject. According to the promotional material, “The film began life as a fairly academic documentary research project examining the complex relationship between the dominant economic driver in the Caribbean, tourism, and its antecedent, the West Indian agricultural slave economy.” Watson says: “It was a very organic evolution. As I was conducting the interviews for the doc, I would go through my questionnaire and nearly every interviewee would use personal narrative or the story of someone they knew to illustrate their points. These stories were extremely engaging and in many cases heart breaking. I could not ignore the power the stories had in leading me to [a] much deeper understanding of the effects of our historical situation in this region on not only the macro level but also on the individual level of the human spirit – and [the] sense of security of Caribbean people.” “I dusted off a script for an unproduced stage play I had written earlier that had the same basic character set up


Spotlight _a collection of work from emerging artists who are exploring expression and form.

Spotlight presents a collection of work from emerging artists who are experimenting with expression and form. From our online submissions and research we compile works that focus on photography, illustration and design, which are at the forefront of popular practices. We capture the pulse of artists who are engaging with their inspirations, observations and experiences.

01 Narissa Ballantyne St. Vincent & the Grenadines is a self-taught photographer, born and raised in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Photography has taken the throne in her world and she has become attached to living her life behind the camera’s lens. Her memory functions like a camera so it’s no surprise the camera has become her accomplice/ partner in helping her capture life.

02 Jacqueline Camacho St. Lucia was born and raised in the Caribbean; she is a selftaught photographer and enjoys creating imagery from photos. “For this piece, I wanted to depict angels living in my stable. It’s a composite of a few different shots to create a surreal image. With photography, I feel I still I have a lot of learning to do and that’s always exciting. In this particular piece I utilize Photoshop to create a distinct mood.”



03 Simbah PilĂŠ Barbados is a contemporary Barbadian artist who appropriates and manipulates pop imagery for the purpose of narrative-based artworks. She works primarily with paper and utilizes the figure. Using appropriated imagery and text in combination with drawing, she creates artwork that explores the multilayered interpretations of a narrative. The images that are produced suggest a possibility of something to come, or that something has taken place, in a constantly evolving narrative.

04 Leizelle Guiness Trinidad & Tobago is a multi-disciplinary designer and illustrator. Her passions include illustration, painting, graphic design, writing short stories, film and capturing the world through photography. In 2010 she wrote and illustrated her first children’s book entitled Poppitz the Frog Who Flew. She currently freelances and continues to learn and grow as an artist to make every effort to reach her true potential.

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