art in all its forms

art in all its forms


Those unforgettable moments from the CHOGM opening

 Inside the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain on Friday.

To say it got mixed reviews is an understatement. Some people loved it. Others hated it. I wish I had seen all of it. But of what I saw, the following moments from the opening cultural show for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting stood out most:

1. Dave Williams was golden.

He performed a shortened version from the opening act of his 'Scan-creation, civilisation, anarchy' piece. Unlike when he performed the full version of this piece at Queen's Hall earlier this year where he was draped in red, Williams was clothed in gold. It's a good thing too because under the lighting at the $518 million National Academy for the Performing Arts, we could barely see him. However, his moment was a triumph of technique and concentration; he quite literally placed everything in the hands of the world leaders gathered on stage before him. I wish he got to stay on longer though. 

2. The poui trees are coming for you.

Words cannot describe my horror when I saw a clump of 'trees' walk on stage as though they were about to murder Willliams (see above). The man had not even finished dragging his golden skirt away, when they swooped down, men on stilts apparently embodying poui trees. And then, coconut carts stormed the stage, and some 'joggers' wearing tights and sweat shirts.

The intention was to "re-create" the Savannah. But if those gathered at the building called the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port-of-Spain wanted to see the Savannah, all they had to do was open a window, or go outside and look across the street. Perhaps it's better that they did not, the Savannah now being the derelict clump of cement-cum-car-park tarmac that it has now become under successive Governments. It should have been a tribute, but I found it displeasing and unintentionally macabre.

3. Enter the chorus with oil drums.

The CHOGM opening ceremony cultural show followed a narrative, tracing the development of Trinidad society. The stage was big, and at points there were hints of Bollywood/Broadway. But we also had awkward moments like this one:
I think this segment could fairly be entitled, 'Here Comes the Oil to Bring Us to a New Level of Prosperity' or 'It's a Good Thing We Had An Oil Industry Because That Was The Prelude to the Invention of the Pan'.

4. The token pierrot.

No 'cultural' show in Trinidad and Tobago is complete without a sexed-up, token pierrot grenade figure. This time, one appeared on stage for about ten seconds. In a stroke of poetic genius from the producers, she/he said not a word; a fitting symbol of the fate of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Instead, the pierrot mimed to the sound of a voice-over narrator telling us about the Savannah, saying things like: "You can take your coconut or snow cone, sit back in your bench and soak it all in. A one of a kind taste of Trini life."

5. Denyse Plummer still wears hairpieces.

Amidst all of the turbulent change happening in Trinidad and Tobago, amidst the good times and the bad times, it's pleasing to know that some things will never change. That's what I felt when I saw Denyse Plummer on stage singing for all of the Commonwealth leaders (and others like the Queen). Ahh...the more things change, the more they stay the same. Nah leaving!

6. Did it all really cost $20 million? 

I guess we'll never know the real cost of this, I thought to myself as I quietly sipped my tea watching the show as it was broadcast live on television on Friday. I've heard some pretty high figures mentioned but until the Government reveals the cost, who knows? There's a rumour that it was $20 million. Sounds implausible? Well apparently another figure rumored for the opening ceremony of the Summit of the Americas in April was around $17 million.

WATCH the show yourself here. READ a review of William's performance here. All photos copyright


Here are the bright lights and paper planes

I found this cool image on Marlon Darbeau's blog. It's from September 2008, but still relevant today. CHECK out more here.


Draconian Switch

Still from Wendell Mc Shine's video for 12 the band's 'Prosper', featured in the latest Draconian Switch

The new issue of Trinidad e-zine Draconian Switch, featuring the work of artist Wendell Mc Shine, is now online. Writing contributions are Darryn Boodan, Dave Williams, Sophie Wight, Tracy Hutchings and guest editor Indra Ramcharan. CHECK the publisher's blog, ARTSPUB, here. READ Indra's blog here.


Pale bloodsuckers battle hunky wolfmen

Poor Bella (Kristen Stewart). All she wants to do is get laid. "I hate this whole celibacy thing," she tells her pale boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) in class one day. The problem? Her beau is a blood-sucking vampire who might lose control and kill her if they were to get it on.

Then, out of the blue (or rather for purely plot purposes) Edward dumps Bella. This takes place in a forest somewhere (the ocean is also nearby). Bella is shattered and for three months sits looking out of her window. She starts to kindle a relationship with a new guy Jacob (Taylor Launter, who has, incidentally, grown more than just a few extra clumps of biceps since the first movie Twilight). But then it turns out that this guy is a flesh-eating werewolf.  What ARE the odds? Such a small town. Anyhow, he too is off limits when it comes to getting it on. After all he might get angry one day and rip Bella to shreds.

Melancholic Bella (who, it must be said is played like a finely tuned block of wood by Stewart) then decides to kill herself, her grief and love for Edward being so strong. As Thom Yorke's 'Hearing Damage' plays on the film's immaculate soundtrack, she jumps off a cliff. However, she miraculously survives, and then realises that jumping off a cliff is actually fun. But oops! She's in the middle of the ocean, the tide is rough, it's a rocky coast. Enter a wet and topless Jacob to save her (he's topless and wet for most of the movie). Then follows a long plot development that involves travel to Italy and an appearance by the wonderful Michael Sheen.

In the end, nothing much really happens, there are lots of long, sexy pauses, awkward silences. Some scenes are touching and enjoyable. The dialogue involves some great lines like, "leaving you was the hardest thing I've done in 100 years" and "it would be nice to not want to kill you all the time."

But the following promotional material should give you a better idea of Twilight: New Moon, which it must be said is a glorious masterpiece of the art of the cinema; a profound, thought-provoking film which makes one come to grips with the value of life and the horror and mystery of death. Not since Nosferatu have we been in awe of a film such as this. (Ha ha). Anyhow, for one reason or another you'll definitely enjoy it.

Noir and Bresson at studiofilmclub

  French director Robert Bresson (Photo courtesy

The stage is set for a memorable night at studiofilmclub. For those of you lucky enough to get away from the grips of CHOGM madness, check out the films, including Robert Bresson's audacious The Devil, Probably and a local short film, Minutes to MidNite.


Building 7
Fernandes Industrial Centre
Eastern Main Road
Port of Spain

Thursday November 26th

Free for all!

first film 8:15pm, doors open 7:30pm

Robert Bresson's penultimate feature The Devil, Probably preceded by a new short film by the Trinidadian director Ryan C. Khan; the noir fantasy Minutes to MidNite

* Minutes to MidNite (Ryan C. Khan/Trinidad/2009/21')

Actors: Wendell Manwarren, Keron Miguel Yan, Tenielle Newallo

A noir, fantasy crime drama unfolds when ruthless Trinidadian gang member, Snake, kills his leader, Mr. Tiger. Shortly afterward, Snake receives a message that someone named Anansi Spider is going to "take care of him." Following a near-death experience at the hands of a wicked woman, Snake receives a call from Anansi Spider, warning him that his life is in danger. Snake grapples with whether or not to trust this mysterious man, and, ultimately, makes a deadly decision.

* The Devil, Probably (Le Diable, Probablement)  (Robert Bresson/France/1977/93')

"For myself, there is something which makes suicide possible-not even possible but absolutely necessary: it is the vision of the void, the feeling of void which is impossible to bear."--Robert Bresson

Charles (Antoine Monnier) tells us straight off that he means to kill himself because the world is too foul a place. He can't change it, and can't find happiness in it, so, why be a part of the cesspool most people call iving? Beautiful, grim-faced, thin, Charles is a contemporary-looking guy, but he has the soul of a deep reader of Robert Burton's seventeenth century classic, The Anatomy of Melancholy. In his 12th feature film, the then seventy year old director, Robert Bresson, tells a tale of the ennui and horror that faced Europe's post-'68 youth, many of whom felt they had nothing to fight for without the drama of the barricades. In charting Charles' interest in death through his past and by using a brilliant cinematographic palette to do so- check out Bresson's book, the fascinating Notes on Cinemtography; in it, he refers to the camera as his pen, and making movies as a way of writing--the director not only sketches a portrait of the bourgeois world that created Charles, but the children of apathetic rebellion. The Devil, Probably, is a movie about the
rock n' roll spirit that can't find a stage. Using non-actors as "models," Bresson, the master of mise en scene, shows us the truth in every day behaviour, dashed dreams, and children who leave home in search of something like parenting, if not hope.  Hilton Als, 2009

SFC have previously screened the following Bresson films: L'Argent, A Man Escapes, Pickpocket, Au Hasard Balthazur. CHECK the SFC blog here.


Naked people at Above Group

 (Photo courtesy Above Group)

Calm down, it's just croquis. At Above Group, Fernandes Industrial Centre, Laventille at 6pm.


Join us for our third open studio drawing session. We have a treat this week, a MALE MODEL will be in the house! So ladies, and gentlemen, bring your pencil, paper, $30 contribution and come!

Who wants to go to Heaven?

No, not the famous club off the Strand in London, the play! At the Learning Resource Centre, UWI, St Augustine.


"HEAVEN" by David Edgecombe, Directed by Christine Hannays.

Anton Francis
Tanya-Dee Roberts
Christopher Smith
Keisha Stephen-Gittens
Jonathon Thatcher

Stage Manager: Jaime Bagoo
Assistant Stage Manager: Kristin Jaggan.

Tickets for general public: $25
Available at the Department for Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA), UWI, St Augustine

Call: 662-2002/663-2222 ext: 2510; 3791; 3792

LINK here.


Akuzuru's vein with water, blood, clay and tears

Port of Spain. Rain. Rain everywhere. Rain on the streets, on the galvanise, on the cars, in hair. Rain that starts, then stops. Starts, then stops. Whispers, then screams. Tears, then tears. Roberts Street. A park just off Alice Yard. Akuzuru and red blood cells. A parade in the rain. An ambush in the rain. Traffic stopped. Cars, curious. Walk with us into this dark place. Space. The objects are props. Are onions, clay, bay leaves, stones, a pail of water, in a yard of water, under the shower, the deluge. Apres moi. Akuzuru in the box. The cutlass is not sharp enough, the broom is not a paintbrush. The beats of this not the beets, stains, unforgotten.

FIND out more about this work here. READ about the artist here.


A cutie in progress

Trinidadian artist Nikolai Noel has posted this work in progress, entitled Cutie, on his blog. CHECK out more here. FOR a discussion on the relationship between art and politics, visit here.

'The strange events that occurred in our village'

In Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism, the German thinker put forward one of the great ideas of modern socio-political theory, namely that all of the essential elements needed for the rise of a totalitarian state exist and lie latent in Western, democratic society. "Lying under anybody’s nose were many of the elements which, gathered together, could create a totalitarian government on the basis of racism," Arendt wrote in 1951. Michael Haneke's newest film The White Ribbon begins with voice-over from a key character in the movie which brings Arendt's thesis to mind.

"I don't know if the story I want to tell you is entirely true," the village school-teacher says in his deadpan voice. "Some of it I only know by hearsay. After so many years, a lot of it is still obscure, and many questions remain unanswered. But I think I must tell of the strange events that occurred in our village. They could perhaps clarify some things that happened in this country." We are in the village of Eichwald in Protestant northern Germany. It is1913, the eve of World War I. Immediately, the opening prelude warns us of the violence that is about to unfold. And it sets up a key reading for the rest of the film which becomes, arguably, a vision of how everyday life is infused with the violence that would later unfold on an international scale.


The White Ribbon is the story of the village's children and their families: the baron, the steward, the pastor, the doctor, the midwife, the tenant farmers. Strange accidents occur and gradually we begin to wonder if the accidents are linked. Soon, the accidents aren't accidents anymore, but sadistic punishment rituals. Who or what is behind it all is unclear.
The film opens with the village doctor returning from a visit to the Baron (the feudal head of the town). The doctor's horse trips over a slender wire placed at the gate of his yard. Who has done this is a mystery. The wire disappears after the incident, before the police can come to investigate, the doctor is himself rushed off-stage, taken, we are told, to a district hospital 30 miles away.

A few days later, a woman working on the Baron's estate dies. She falls through the rotten planks of a barn floor. It is unclear what the woman was doing in the barn; she had reportedly been ordered to go there by an unnamed superior. The woman’s son blames the Baron and, when the villagers are distracted at a feast held to celebrate the harvest, he slashes the Baron’s cabbage crop. Hours later, the Baron’s son is found beaten and tied upside down in the barn. The incidents of violence, which are largely never observed by Haneke's camera, increase in intensity. Children whisper, adults conspire, but no one openly comes forward with a solution. There are attempts to investigate; but they run into difficulties.

In between all of this are glimpses of village life, including the pastor’s brutal caning of his children over a minor incident; a woman’s chagrin at a musician who can’t keep up; and a little boy’s questioning of his nanny about death, in the course of which he learns that his mother, supposedly away on a long trip, is really dead. We discover that the village doctor and the midwife have been having an affair, that the relationship between the Baron and his wife is on the verge of collapse and that the relationships between the children in the village are not what they seem. These glimpses of the private domestic lives of the villagers give us more and more possible suspects for the violent incidents. Even the children come increasingly under a cloud of suspicion, leaving The White Ribbon to appear like an echo of The Lord of the Flies.

The similarities between both films do not end there. Like The Lord of the Flies, The White Ribbon is filmed in black and white. In Haneke's hands, the results are sublime. The camera is never self-conscious, but always perfectly on form. The lighting plays with the very idea of black and white, with cinematographer Christian Berger making full use of the dramatic black costumes worn by the women and children. Where land and soil is supposed to appear dark and the sky light, Berger finds lightness in the darkness and darkness in the light; turning soil a sickening white, and casting the sky in deep greys. The effect is eerie; there are unforgettable shots and a clear sense that Haneke (who story-boards his films) is painting masterful paintings with his camera.

"The use of black and white is also tied to this element of distance," Haneke said in an interview. "The reason is that historical films always come with a claim of false naturalism – 'that’s how things specifically were.' Of course, they aren’t because films are always artifacts, not a reconstruction of reality." But the black and white does more than put distance; it alienates, intensifies, complicates and creates a sense of a nascent world not yet fully realised; a world that is just about to change forever, to be torn to the seems by two world wars and by unspeakable catastrophes.

The violence of the Holocaust is clearly the ghost lurking behind the layers of this film. Like Haneke's Cache, whose buried subject is the Algerian massacre in Paris of 1961, The White Ribbon invites us to compare domestic incidents with events on a larger scale. The opening statement of the schoolteacher, who warns that the incidents, "could perhaps clarify some things that happened in this country" invites us to read the film as an examination of the latent elements of German society that unfolded into the Holocaust, the Jewish Ghettos, Hilter.

But this is not, in the end, a satisfying approach. For Haneke's film, which is a masterpiece of world cinema, is nowhere as ambitious as it leads us to believe. There is no real analysis of how all that unfolds are causally related with later international events. Indeed, such an analysis would be an exercise bound to fail given its sheer simplistic nature. What we have before us is a document; an odd one at that too. It is--in Haneke's own terms--an artefact that raises issues it can never hope to resolve.

"I certainly don’t offer solutions, that’s not my job," Haneke tells us. "The issue in the film is education, which is an eternal problem that you simply can’t get rid of – it’s a basic human problem. If you could solve it we’d have a different society. It’s not ideal now, but it certainly wasn’t ideal back then either."

"When you read criticism about my films, you get the impression that they’re all about themes, problems or ideas. However, those are things that develop out of characters, out of images and out of other things and these more abstract things develop while you are working on the material. They develop out of it; it’s not a theoretical exercise from the outset."

What The White Ribbon grows into is a stunning examination of the violence of an industrial society, ordered by discipline and latent forms of repression. Characters appear hostage to desires, emotions and lies; they are tied down by dreams of purification and the abhorrence of the imperfect--all of which is, indeed, linked to fascism but also to certain impulses that exist within modern society, generally. It is striking that the incidents of violence begin only when the doctor is away from the town. For the doctor, more so than the wealthy Baron and the overzealous pastor, commands the obedience and respect of the village society more firmly than any other; he is a symbolic leader who--with his apparent command of life and death--holds the village together. His removal from the village, in a sense, appears to allow a lapse. His return, when he re-appears half-way through the film still nursing his wounds, is not an effective salve to what has already been freed. 



***TONIGHT: LAZA beam at SKYY, San Fernando

 LAZA beam

"There's so much inspiration for my music in Trinidad. The toils of the people, the excessive lifestyles, the jaded artists, the loss of identity and the gaining of a new. I wonder if its wrong sometimes, but I love to tap into the tension" --so writes LAZA beam on a blog entry here.

CHECK out, in particular, 'The Brilliance of Love' found here. And he's at SKYY, Corner Lady Hailes Ave & Gulf View Link Road, San Fernando, tnite @ 9.


"Drum n Bass, From a World Rhythm Soldier."

Enjoy fantastic rhythms and beats by Drum n Bass specialist LAZA BEAM, on Friday 20th November.

Party the night away to the sounds of the DJ Angel Journey. For the ole school fans, dance away to the music of special guest DJ The Hitman Howie T!

Fantastic Drink Specials All Night Long

Dress code: Elegantly Casual

Name on Guest list OR Invite holders: $80 at the door B4 11pm.

All others $100 at the door.

Secured parking available

“How much better a thing it is to be envied than to be pitied”
Herodotus (The Greek Father of History)


Wendell Mc Shine has a little black book

CHECK out this video featuring sketches for an upcoming HD animation movie by artist Wendell Mc Shine. VISIT Mc Shine's blog here.


A new poem by Vahni Capildeo

Fusion, meaning:
                    burns behind eyelids
                    capillaries’ corals thickly
                    foresting their otherwise rubies, diamonds, turquoises
                    complicating the dark
                    plugged into all sockets
                    the seven hazardous mysteries
                    shuttering compression of contacts
                    the unremoved lens
                    glass will grow again
                    into the blasted cornea
                    fusion, exacting its toll:
                    colours it stole
                    vowelling the moon fuchsia
                    now snakes the crimson pathway, now the white
Fusion, meaning:
                    laughing like you don’t like it
                    dreams go by contraries
                    morning becomes electric
                    having a passion that says teal

POET'S NOTE: 'FUSION' is dedicated to the PLEASURE blog.


Vahni Capildeo is a co-editor of  TOWN, a public arts initiative, and a contributing editor of the Caribbean Review of Books. She is the author of four books, including: No Traveller Returns (Salt, 2003), Person Animal Figure (Landfill, 2005), Undraining Sea (Egg Box, which was launched in London last month) and Dark & Unaccustomed Words (forthcoming in 2010).

READ a stellar interview with the poet here. LISTEN to Vahni reading her poetry hereDISCOVER Capildeo's No Traveller Returns here. And a SAMPLE from her book Undraining Sea here. PHOTOS: Midnight, by Andre Bagoo, for Vahni Capildeo.

You are the potter, I am the clay

These are ordinary objects.

Cups, vases, dishes and bowls sit silently on tables set up in an airy space at a house in Diego Martin. But the pieces at Adam Williams' annual studio sale, which was held yesterday, are touched with the specific vision of an artist striving to ennoble the everyday. This is the work of a painter, who uses clay as his canvass to create fine and delicate sensations. Text and texture meet in subtle relationships; colours and palettes blend and ooze secrets--like having a conversation with the artist, meeting his family and chatting with his loved ones. The result is unusual: we encounter ourselves, take away a piece of him and then usher it all into our everyday lives.

Consider the teacup with the protest, "this is not my cup of tea". Or two bowls that look like they have been graffitied by a student given lines to do as punishment in secondary school detention. "I will not speak in class", says one, the other, adds, "I will not answer back when spoken to."

And then move to larger pieces, vases, which allow the artist more than just subversive scrawling. These are full-fledged canvasses, with a careful attention to the form of the images placed on each. Here we find personal work; the artist commenting upon and working through issues in relationships, emotions.

Of course it is true there are only so many teacups and bowls one can look at and admire. But equally, we may argue that these are the everyday objects the artist intends to sell, not just for mercenary reasons, but because the banal is a key to everyday life and a way to bring art, in simple, subtle and beautiful forms, to us. He is not just molding clay, he's creeping into our lives; molding us.

READ an interview with Adam Williams here.CHECK his website (which has contact information) here.


this/discourse/has/no start(middle)nd


Hi, I'm Adam and I'm a ceramic artist. My parents are Gerard and Ann Williams, both are retired. My mom used to be a nurse and my dad was into plastic manufacturing.


I teach pottery, make sculptural work out of clay. Oh let me think, what else? I'll leave it at that. I do other things but I don't know if I should mention things like the fact that I sing although it never leaves the bathroom. 


I work out of my home and studio which is in Diego Martin.  The best time of day for me to work is in the morning.

I've got a show this week. It's a Christmas sale, which I have every year. There was also a sale in June with Ajoupa Pottery. Very few people do pottery in Trinidad and Tobago, so you find that you get into bed with whoever does ceramics.

I have not had a gallery show since Alice Yard in September 2007. I've been hurting career-wise because I think artists should at least have a gallery display once a year. But these days, my plan is to avoid galleries. For my sculptural work, I'm not going to be using galleries if I can help it. I'm rethinking spaces at the moment and trying to use more public areas.


I got into ceramic art as a break from drawing and painting. I was a painting major when I was studying in Canada. The thing is, in terms of the hierarchy of the visual arts, painting is at the top. Whatever the case for arguing that video and installation art has an edge over painting, these are new mediums. And performance art is still an obscure thing to digest. Painting is where most of the money is; it's also very very macho and competitive. But being at the top, it's somewhat oblivious to a lot. I found it stifling and I was developing many hang-ups. You tend to develop too many snobberies or particularities to the point where what you're left with is a very limited avenue to work with. I found that my solution to that was to get out of it completely.

With clay, what I found was that I could return to the drawing board. I could return to a medium where there is no baggage. It was new for me. Oh, by the way I normally ramble...


Ok, I'll tailor this towards art and design. Each ceramic artist will lean a little towards one or the other.

In terms of the design aspect I'm what you describe as a small-scale producer or 'one of a kind' practitioner, and part of my philosophy as a one of a kind designer is the idea that I'm taking the time to take mundane consumable items and investing my creativity and intelligence into elevating those items. If I was making furniture you would not see a generic plastic lawn chair after lawn chair. It basically boils down to the experience of choosing to buy your clothes in the mall as opposed to buying from Meiling.

The experience of the one of a kind is profound. It was not always but in a consumable age it means a lot. I'm a bit of a purist or a traditionalist in that sense. It is elitist and it is expensive but I don't think it has to be like that, actually. You jump into your car and you drive for miles to Toco and there see houses with all sorts of things hanging up outside of them that you've never seen before in your life that are one of a kind; that are not things you'll find flipping through a Sears catalogue...they are making indigenous things. And this is something which I think is being lost more and more.


You'll have a long pause here... I wanted you to ask, 'What is your art about?'

What is my art about? It recently has gone through a very noticeable shift and I'm not sure about it yet. It's become extremely autobiographical in the last patch. It started when I was making a couple of pieces for my boyfriend and my parents where it was extremely clever work, but the audience was me and three other people; there was something exciting about that.

I think there is an expectation that artists must make art universal, but the intimate stuff was something I was getting a kick out of--keeping it very small but also very effective among these four people. It became a lot about my family and a lot about me.

Do you know David Sedaris? Rufus Wainwright? I've been pulling from them as sources a lot. Sedaris is a writer who talks about his neighbours parents, siblings, incredibly insightful and comical. He's not talking about Obama and Bush; keeping it small. And all his writing is just like that. So recently my work's become very autobiographical. I'm toying with the idea of only making it accessible to very few people.


Adam Williams was born in Trinidad in 1982. He attended classes at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, and later the Creative Arts Centre at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. He also studied piano with Nancy Jackman and music theory with Graham Newling. He's got a Christmas sale on Saturday. This is what he looks like:

Adam Williams, 1989. Photo courtesy the artist. 
Header photo: PriceSmart by Andre Bagoo

CHECK the artist's website for contact info here. GLIMPSE some of his smaller pieces here. READ more about an installation piece by Williams at Alice Yard here. This/discourse/has/no/start(middle)nd is an interview series for Trinidad artists. FIND out more about it here.

Pieces of Adam Williams

1. Gas-fired dark stoneware vase with Tenmoko glaze and raw clay, 7" high. 2. Gas fired porcelain vases 15" and 14" high. 3. 'Two donkey's and a tale', Gas fired porcelain bowl approx 4" high, 6" wide.

THIS Saturday, potter Adam Williams holds his annual Christmas sale at his studio in Diego Martin. READ an interview with Williams here. CONTACT the artist here.