art in all its forms

art in all its forms

12/31/09

This is not finished


It's too late for her wedding.
It's too early for her funeral.
I don't know what to do.

Graphic artist Tanya Marie Williams has some decisions to make. SEE more of her 'Unfinished Ladies' here.

A steelpan cover of Joy Division's 'Transmission'?


One does appear to exist. Was it a good idea I wonder? FIND out here.

12/27/09

These films rocked this year


This was a good year for films, especially if you lived in Trinidad and Tobago where the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF) really hit new highs, screening strong international films, and good local stuff like: The Solitary Alchemist, Coolie Pink and Green and Bury Your Mother.

I've picked my favorite films for the year and judging from how many of you LOVED James Cameron's Avatar (which does not make my list I'm quite afraid to say) I figure I'm in for some serious slack for these choices.

First of all, how DARE I declare Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In to be the best film of the year, when most people never even heard of it or missed its screening here in Trinidad at studiofilmclub earlier this year? And why is fellow vampire flick Twilight: New Moon NOT on my list? Didn't I get the memo about the pale and undead being HOT this year?

1. Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

You're getting beaten up in school everyday. It's always f--king snowing. The apartment you live in has really thin walls. Your mom dresses like she's from the band ABBA. And you spend most of your time 'playing' with your imaginary friend. Life couldn't get any worse, right? Oh yes it can. You could live in Sweden. And your girlfriend could be a vampire (later, you discover that not only is she apparently not fully human, but there is something seriously weird going on with her...gonads, to the extent that she explains, "I'm not a girl"). After several feeding frenzies (quite a few of the locals get chomped on) she dumps you because she's got to go away to stay under the radar.

It sounds like the stuff of a screwball comedy, but actually this is one of the most sophisticated, emotionally charged and beautiful films I've ever seen. Contrary to the view of most critics, the key is not only the performances of the child actors (they are exceptional; articulating complex adult emotions. Or is it that adult emotions are reflections of what we go through as children?)

There are also several other tricks going on, including the use of ambient sound. We hear the crunch of footsteps on snow like bombs going off, breathing is heightened in a way that makes living seem like an eternal labour, clothing rustle and stomachs grumble in creepy, creepy ways. Even in moments of 'silence' you can detect layers beneath the soundtrack, as though a slowed down recording of human screaming is being softly played (as was the case in a film that I was reminded of while watching this called The Sixth Sense). Another trick is the use of light and colour and the sequence of vampire attacks in the film.

Red appears at key moments of crisis, often involving fear and hinting at characters in conflict. I also have a theory that each vampire attack or feeding frenzy in the film is linked to a prior moment of romantic or emotional turmoil, expressing the violence or intensity of such conflict. We come away from the movie with a sense that we've watched a puzzle which, if we found an adequate cipher, would reveal layer after layer; like watching one film when you're actually watching another. This is a rare effect, and one which does not demand us to find a solution but rather forces us to surrender and to FEEL in a way we've never quite felt before. You WILL NOT forget this film; the closing scene will make you cry. A masterpiece.

2. Inglourious Basterds
We've all seen Schindler's List. Some of us have seen The Pianist. And Saving Private Ryan is always on television. But we've never quiet seen a movie like Inglourious Basterds which defies our expectations for what a World War II film is supposed to be like in exceptional ways. Not only does Tarantino reallocate how the violence of the Holocaust is depicted, but he does it with some style. Witness the most unforgettably tense bar scene/shoot-out ever filmed. READ a review at Tattoo here.

3. The White Ribbon
Almost the inverse of Inglorious Basterds. It is the eve of World War I and strange things are happening in a remote German village. Accident after accident happens, getting deadlier and deadlier. But there is no sight of a solution as to who is doing it all. Could it be the children? The adults? Outsiders passing through? Micheal Haneke, the great director of The Piano Teacher, Cache and Funny Games makes us think there is a solution just beyond our grasp and delights in keeping us away. CHECK a full review of the film here.

4. Tyson
The genius of James Toback's documentary is how it simply lets its subject do all of the talking. The film is basically a series of interviews with former heavyweight champion of the world Mike Tyson, interspersed with news footage. He tells us things we may never have guessed about him: he has a lung condition, he was fat as a kid, he was bullied as a child, he likes to abstain from sex and then break his fast, the quality he wants most in a lover is protectiveness.

The film's lack of authorial intervention (say, by a narrator) works best when Tyson deals with controversial topics, such as his marriage to actress Robin Givens and the rape charge; it's up to each viewer to decide whether they believe Tyson or not. And although this documentary can been seen as a clever ploy to reposition the boxer's tarnished image, one cannot deny its inherent power as a character study. I mean, Tyson reads from Oscar Wilde's 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' for crying out loud! At one point, he even begins to cry, but can't bring himself to. Brilliant.

5. Jennifer's Body
Everybody wanted this to be the new Heathers, but let's face it that was never going to happen. That said, I'm still very very glad this film did happen. It's a teenage slasher romp of uncommon quality, with a central performance by Megan Fox that will MAKE YOU A BELIEVER.

Jennifer is the hottest girl in school. But after she spends a wild night with a creepy indie rock bank (and their hot bandleader Adam Brody), she CHANGES. Boys (and girls) begin to drop like flies. The metaphors are unending, but I just enjoyed the beautifully gaudy images: like Megan Fox in a prom dress in an abandoned poolhouse overgrown with vines or said Megan Fox puking black nails in front of the fridge after she comes in from a night out. Forget Juno this is screenwriter Diablo Cody's best work. MORE here.

6. Carmen and Geoffrey
Winner of Best Film at this year's Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, Carmen and Geoffrey is an affecting documentary about the extraordinary Trinidadian Geoffrey Holder and his wife the great Carmen De Lavallade. Especially for a generation that knows little of Holder, the film is a revelation. “I walk through doors. If I’m not wanted in a place, there’s something wrong with the place not me,” Holder says in the film directed by Linda Atkinson. “People don’t know your name until you tell them what your name is. I am like Madonna and Andy Warhol. Madonna tells the world that she is Madonna and she is who she is.” BROWSE more here.

7. Silent Light
This was another selection for the TTFF. An odd and unforgettable film about a love triangle in a Mennonite community in Mexico of which the world knows little about. A ravishing visual feast about being trapped and being freed. I enjoyed interviewing the film's director, Carlos Reygadas, for a feature which you can read here.

8. Broken Embraces (Los abrazos Rotos)

Of this Almodovar creation Roger Ebert cheekily said, "Broken Embraces is a voluptuary of a film, drunk on primary colors, caressing Penelope Cruz, using the devices of a Hitchcock to distract us with surfaces while the sinister uncoils beneath. As it ravished me, I longed for a freeze frame to allow me to savor a shot." READ his full review here. I've a weakness for Almodovar, and I must confess to being ravished too.

9. Why Do Jamaicans Run So Fast?
A deceptively simple documentary that threatened to be nothing more than an extended tourist brochure for Jamaica. The film was a surprise gem when it screened at studiofilmclub a few weeks ago. Through interviews and footgage in Jamaica before, during and after the Beijing Olympics, director Miguel Galofre and producer Fernando Garcia manage to unpack the key elements of Jamaican society in a surprisingly profound way. The question is actually a MacGuffin. The real subject of the film is the island itself.

10. Julia
Each year there's always at least one film I really like for purely sentimental reasons. In Erick Zonka's film, Tilda Swinton plays a drunk slapper who gets wasted and wakes up somewhere different every morning. I say no more.

RUNNERS-UP:

The Solitary Alchemist read review here.
Coolie Pink and Green
Bury Your Mother
Sita Sings the Blues watch this movie in full here.
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Star Trek 


GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK (EVEN IF I SAW YOU IN GLOBE):

Avatar read review here.
Twilight: New Moon read review here.
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen read review here.

12/25/09

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


WHO?

I was in primary school at Lower Morvant Government before I realized that other people’s fathers lived with them. It never occurred to me before I saw Michelle Rosales’ father in her front porch, sitting there as though he had every right to do so. “He lives with you? All the time?” I asked her, baffled. “Why?”

My own father did not live with us but rather in his wife's apartment. I remember his wife as a stern and distant lady who slept all day, like a bear, only rousing herself to make very sweet Milo and bread and butter sandwiches for my brother and me whenever we were in her apartment. I lived with my mother, sisters and brother in a house Daddy built for my mom a little distance away. But my brother and I were often in dad's home for long stretches. We were, in essence, an extended family.

Nobody seemed to find it strange that we were more or less an extension of the household which consisted of: my father Rito Allen, a welder with a successful muffler and water tank factory; his wife Sarah, a bipolar and heavily medicated former teacher; me; my brother Dennis; and my mother, Dolores Ollivierre, my father’s factotum in the muffler factory and generally acknowledged love of his life.

Mummy had other children: I was the last of nine. Daddy, too: he had a son and another daughter. Being the last, and the child who looked most like him, I was often accused of being spoiled. Maybe I was. But since my brother was the one who got the electric race car set and I never got the Sindy dolly I begged for, I differ with this interpretation.

I’ve always read and I've always written. I remember finding stacks of paper and making them into a book that I decorated and called my diary. I was in Second Year Infants and had a dreadful crush on my big sister’s friend, Curtis. I would write song lyrics detailing the minutiae of my crush, with earnest lines like: “You make me delirious.” But I never learned to tie my shoelaces until I was quite big. Telling time also boggled me. Spelling and counting still remain mysteries.

My own children, who are 16 and 9, are both writers. I blame myself.


WHAT?

Growing up, I saw myself as a poet, although I also wrote short fiction and plays. I thought journalism was whoring out God-given talent, so it came as a surprise to me, if to no-one else, that I would become a journalist with the Express while finishing my BA in English at UWI. I moved over to the Guardian after a couple of years and have been there, more or less, ever since. I write features on anything you could think of, except sports, and have written commentary in a variety of genres. I am proudest of the weekly column I write, mostly in Trinidadian creole, for the Guardian. It covers a range of topics. Except sports. I also write for the Caribbean Beat magazine and the Caribbean Review of Books.

I was a performance poet for years after I first did it on stage at my alma mater Bishop Anstey High School in the school's Miss Anstey contest. I self-published a book of poems, Something to Say, when I was 18 and I’m now working on a poetry manuscript with Vahni Capildeo as my writing coach. She’s making my poems look good—an impressive feat. In between, I appeared on a CD and tour called Ten Sisters with my old friend Paula Obe and a host of powerful women.

I started writing long fiction about five years ago. My first novel was published by Macmillan Caribbean as part of the Island Fiction series in 2008. The Chalice Project is a children’s sci-fi adventure book set in Trinidad. I wrote it to be part of a three-book series, so cross your fingers that parts II and III are commissioned, too.

In 2008 Akashic Books published Trinidad Noir, as part of their award-winning Akashic Noir series. I co-edited it, with Jeanne Mason, and have the lead story in it.

WHEN + WHERE?

When I was a little girl I was sexually abused by an older relative. I think a lot of the pain I went through as a teenager and young adult had to do with that experience, and in some ways it continues to affect me. Thinking about it, and seeing the way our society has lurched ahead without fully dealing with how prevalent this problem is, I started a project last year on the topic. My manuscript is about halfway through. The protagonist is nothing like me, though we share that common history of child sexual abuse. Unlike me, she has let it completely shape her life.

It’s a hard story to write, even though it’s not my story, and I want to do it well. She doesn’t want pity, but she does need sensitivity and there is a brutality to the story that I don’t want to shade out. Writing her is balancing those elements. Wayne Brown was my coach on the project but he passed away a few months ago. It wasn’t unexpected but it was still a shock and I haven’t recovered. It was only a few weeks ago that I stopped checking my inbox for messages from him. Monique Roffey is coaching me on the project now, and I hope to finish it early next year.

WHY?

I write because I can’t not write. It’s one of the four things I do best. (Two of the other things are cooking and parenting.) This is why God made me.

SAY SOMETHING DEEP (ABOUT ART):

We need art. It is not about beauty, because much of art isn’t beautiful at all. We need beauty, too, but it’s not the same as art. Art is a mirror showing us ourselves and what we could become, for good or ill. For me it’s right up there with food, water, shelter and sex.

ASK THE QUESTION YOU WANTED ME TO ASK:

What would the world be like without Lisa Allen-Agostini? A little sadder, a little smaller, a little meaner. But probably a little better disposed towards small dogs, and a lot more patient.

***

(BTW WE SHOULD ADD:) 

Lisa  Allen-Agostini lives in Diego Martin, Trinidad. This is what she looks like:

Photo courtesy Richard Acosta. Header photo by Andre Bagoo.

READ from Trinidad Noir here.  BROWSE more about the book here and LISTEN to a podcast with Lisa at Caribbean Free Radio here. CHECK out The Chalice Project here. This/discourse/has/no/ start(middle)nd is an interview series featuring the responses of Trinidad artists to a set questionnaire. FIND out more about it here.

12/23/09

In December, you get Christmas cards


While I am of two minds about Christmas, I still find Christmas cards quite charming. But because I have difficulty planning my life three days in advance, I have some difficulty organising tricky things like buying stamps and actually sending them (I'm A-OKAY to receive).

Sending cards can be onerous. Either you make them yourself (=time =effort =love =you possibly have nothing else to do) or you buy them. To buy a postcard is one of the worst experiences you'll have in a capitalist society, believe me. Should you get one with a message inside? If yes, you have to READ the message and then decide if it's alright. If you don't get one with a message inside, you can try to THINK of something clever to say. Or just sign and write 'Love' and add lots of  XXXs.

People tend to look at cards as a peculiar form of ephemeral art (most cards are thrown away). And some feel cards are little snapshots of your personality, in which case the pressure is on to impress. In Trinidad, cards can also be a tricky thing, with the whole debate over why most images on Christmas cards are related to snowscapes or from a climate alien to ours. There is a whole stream of thought (I LIKE to swim) about this and the neo-colonial veneration of the aesthetic of the outside/colonial motherland/developed world. BAHUMBUG!

But whatever the politics, it's hard not to just like cards for what they are: beautiful things. Here's a sample of some cards I got this year and really like.

 

And of course, no Trinidad Christmas is complete without cards on a religious theme (it being the celebration of baby Jesus and all). Such cards tend to look like this:

And like this:


CHECK out the coolest blog you'll ever find about postcards here.

Goldsmith


One of the most touching moments in The Solitary Alchemist is its dedication. The film, directed by Mariel Brown, premiered at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival in September, mere days after the death of Brown’s father the influential journalist and poet Wayne Brown. A title card at the end of the film reads: “In loving memory of Wayne Brown...”

It is a fitting end to a film that is about an artist coming to terms with self-doubt over the trajectory of her career and with her own peculiar emotions...  

READ full review of the film at Newsday here.

12/20/09

The Christmas Tree by Barbara Jenkins


This year, the end of the noughties, finds me putting up a Christmas tree – first time this millennium. I wanted to get a live tree, in a pot, in soil, so I let my fingers do the driving through TSTT’s new yellow pages and called every plant nursery between Diego Martin and San Fernando and east as far as Arima. No, no, no, no and finally yes, in Mount Hope. Drove there last Saturday morning. What was described on the phone as a Norfolk pine four foot high, barely managed two; quadruped really a limping biped. It would have been taking advantage to string lights and hang ornaments on that baby; it would be just right in 2012, but not for 2009 and at $225, somewhat out of my reach anyway.

The San Antonio Nursery in Santa Cruz offered to go into the field and lop off the top of one of the Norfolk pines in their yard. ‘We do this and it sends out several new tops,’ they assured over the phone. I was already burnt by my last encounter but San Antonio – St Anthony to us – is the patron saint of lost things; Santa has a certain Christmas ring to it and Cruz is definitely Jesus, albeit at the end of his life. But I took all that to be an optimistic sign for the day’s adventure; booked a four foot tree top and headed out once more to collect it, with daughter-in-law Harriet and two of my grandsons, Jack and Hugo.

I paid for five feet at $20 a foot, a steal of a deal. And it’s five foot only if you discount the foot-and-a-half of trunk below the last whorl of branches.

‘Put it in a bucket, put some big stones to hold it up, put some small stones to fill the gaps and pour in some water. It should last at least a week.’ Instructions delivered by the two men who had cut it and tied it to the roof of my daughter-in-law’s car when it failed to fit in the trunk or even the front seat (the back seat was already taken up with two child’s seats).

I have put it in a bucket, added big and small stones and water and I swear I have never seen a more handsome tree. The branches--lushly, deeply green and thick--spring upwards, each holding its two sets of needles semi-closed as if in supplication. It would be a travesty to add anything to it – ‘gilding the lily’ springs to mind. So at the moment, I sit and look in wonder at its unsullied perfection. Won’t last, though – Christmas is nothing if not excess, so I know I shall have to yield to cosquellery – but that’s another day.

20 December, 2009



Barbara Jenkins is a writer living in Trinidad. She was highly commended in the 2009 Commonwealth Short Story competition and was runner-up in the 2009 Wasafiri Short Story Competition. Jenkins participated in the Cropper Writers Workshop in 2008.  


FIND out more here. Photos by Andre Bagoo.

There's a glow-in-the-dark forest in James Cameron's 'Avatar'


We might as well say it now: the only reason this film got made was probably because of the Hollywood clout of its director James Cameron.

As I started to fall asleep next to my sister at the Globe cinema in downtown Port of Spain (not the ideal spot to slumber, many will vouch) I started to think of why anyone would want to make this film, besides for the obvious money-making potential.

Avatar follows the coming of age of its protagonist Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington). It's sometime in the future and  Jake's twin brother Tom has just died. Because Jake has the same genome as his dead brother, he can step into Tom's shoes in an ongoing project on a planet called Pandora. Sigh. Apparently, on Pandora, humans are infiltrating an native race called the Na'avi by--get this--plugging themselves (apparently via broadband) into alien-looking flesh suits called avatars.

What then follows is one of the most droll science-fiction films of all time, complete with all the stereotypes involved when an invading race confronts a wise, native race. It does not really help to note that the special effects are very good, because these days we expect special effects to be good; standards have long moved forward since Titanic. And while I am yet to see the film in 3-D (alas, Globe does not offer this facility) I'm not sure that really makes a difference to the film's inherent quality. Even if Cameron had lofty intentions with regard to increasing the use of the technology, his film still falls short.

Here is a near three-hour movie where the filmmakers attempt to wow us by creating plants that glow in the dark. We also have mountains that float (last seen in Gulliver's Travels) and weird jelly-fish butterflies. Things are brought into the frame for the purpose of spectacle, without the slightest attempt to make that spectacle original.

In between, there is some heavy-handed allegory about the environment and colonialism, which would have been interesting if the filmmakers really cared about these issues.

I am confident that I spoil nothing by saying nobody important dies and there is a happy ending. Characters in the film repeat the movie's tagline "I see you" ad nauseam, making me wish I hadn't in fact, gone to see Avatar. At least in Titanic the ship sinks in the end and Leonardo DiCaprio dies.

LISTEN to Leona Lewis singing the theme for the movie, 'I See You' here. READ a review from someone who loved the film here.

12/18/09

They want you to buy things


To find out how CHECK here.

12/17/09

Dorothy's not in Kansas anymore


She's at studiofilmclub tonight for a Christmas screening of The Wizard of Oz, preceded by a screening of the documentary film Why Jamaicans Run So Fast. For details CHECK the studiofilmclub blog here.

12/15/09

Joanne Kilgour-Dowdy's photo-autobiography


A sneak peek at Trinidadian dancer Joanne Kilgour-Dowdy's short 'photo-autobiography' In the Public Eye. The book covers her years in Trinidad, then at Julliard and thereafter.

1. Joanne Kilgour-Dowdy, on the set of the Banyan production of Who the C.A.P. Fits,1976. (Photo by Bruce Paddington); 2. At Queen's Hall for a recital (undated photo from the Caribbean School of Dancing); 3. In Woman to Woman. Photo by Derek Gaye (undated).

12/13/09

From Alicia Milne




1. Bust, clay plaster; 2. From Venus of Arima; 3. Detail from De Whitie Talks, drawings. READ an interview with young visual artist Alicia Milne here. Photos courtesy Arnaldo JJ/Alicia Milne.





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


WHO?

I am. I enjoy just being. But, if you want to get technical I am: born and raised in Trinidad, the eldest daughter of Michael Milne and Jacinta Ferreira, sister to three siblings, member of a large Portuguese Creole family, and an artist.

WHAT?

I do many things. But I suppose what you are most interested in is my artwork. My most recent work has been made with clay, plaster and myself. I enjoy getting my hands into materials. At times it can be very intimate. The work is based on personal experiences and for a large part acts as an outlet for working through these experiences. I look at realities and perceptions. Within the work there are facets that deal with religion, family, race and class.


WHEN + WHERE?

I have a small studio space at home in Arima where I produce some of the work. My dear friend Adam Williams accommodates me in his pottery studio on a weekly basis. A great deal of my work happens there.

My work was last shown at UWI St. Augustine’s Visual Arts graduate show in June this year. I graduated last month with a BA in Visual Arts and a minor in Cultural Studies.

I remain quietly producing and building my body of work. My partner, Luis Vasquez, and I are also working on some projects together. I plan on going to my first residency very soon.


WHY?

My work relates to my interests, and I love that fact.


PLEASE SAY SOMETHING DEEP (ABOUT ART):

I really don’t know if an artist with as little experience as myself can really say something profound about art but I do know this, one’s practice is something special and precious. It needs to be guarded and encouraged. The artist needs to fight for it and just work. Never stop working. The work is all that matters.

I suppose it is similar to having a child. In the same way that a child’s guardian should not lead it astray or encourage undesirable behaviour, our cultural gate keepers (perceived or otherwise) need to be weary of the kind of work and art practices they are encouraging and recognizing. 

ASK AND ANSWER THE QUESTION YOU WANTED US TO ASK:

I think that I hinted at it in the question above.

***
(BTW WE SHOULD ADD): 

Alicia Milne is a ceramicist and visual artist living and working in Trinidad. She is a recent graduate of the University of the West Indies, BA Visual Arts, Minor in Cultural Studies. This is what she looks like:

Alicia Milne tried on a mask during a visit to Alice Yard, Woodbrook on November 6, 2009. Photos by Andre Bagoo.

VISIT Alicia's blog Intriguing Things here. This/discourse/has/no/start(middle)nd is an interview series featuring the responses of Trinidad artists. FIND out more about it here.



12/11/09

The Dimming

 
From The Dimming, a series of new drawings by Nikolai Noel. They'll be installed at Alice Yard for one week, and the exhibition opens at 8.00pm tonight. READ more here.

12/10/09

***TONIGHT: David Bowie @ studiofilmclub


A rare film on the great David Bowie's cocaine and milk years screens tonight at studiofilmclub, Fernandes Industrial Estate, Laventille. Also screening is one of my favorite films over the last few years, Kelly Reichardt's tender Wendy and Lucy.

FROM THE ORGANISERS:

A documentary from the BBC archives about an extraordinary period in David Bowie's evolution. Shot in 1974 and transmitted in January 1975, it follows Bowie in Hollywood as he begins to discard the elaborate costume and make-up of his legendary character Ziggy Stardust and assume a new, more enigmatic role...READ more from Hilton Als here.

Girls, sand and balls


Why it can only be this spread at the ISLAND blog featuring the photographs of fashion photographer Kerron Riley in a photo-shoot at Toco. SEE more here.

12/8/09

The Messiah is coming


I have never seen so many sweaty choirboys and choirgirls in one place.

We are in the school hall of the Bishop Anstey High School which is adjacent to the spanking new $518 million National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port of Spain. It is a hot Sunday afternoon. The hall is closed-off, there are large glass panels that let in light but not air; the main air-conditioning unit is not working. There are only a few fans. Pat Bishop has a rusty cowbell she uses to call everybody to attention.

"Allyuh could stand up now," she says, ready to take the Lydians through another section of Handel's Messiah in preparation  for their upcoming series of concerts this week at Queen's Hall. Bishop, acting urgently given the fact that the opening show is a few days away on Thursday night, speaks like a cross between a school-teacher and an army commander. She suddenly realizes that she’s made a  mistake; the section she wants sung does not require the choir to stand. "Allyuh could sit back down," she says, a slight hint of mischief in her voice. "Sorry about that, my fault."

The choir, a mix of young men and women of  all ages, look tired, but they grudgingly obey. To not obey is to risk incurring the wrath of The Pat. Singers shuffle into position at her whim and fancy, dancers  pirouette and flutter at her beck and call,  musicians play only under her instruction.

During this rehearsal, soloists come out of the rows of singers like  hunters coming out from a forest. Some have difficulty with their sections. They look to Pat who either reassures them all is well or gives needed instruction. She often stops them mid-note when she wishes to convey the impression that she thinks they've got a particular section just right and then moves on, without pause, to another.


"There is a method to my madness," Bishop explains to the Lydians during a particularly difficult section of the rehearsal. With an acute sense of the structure of Messiah, she's trying to get all sections to flow  smoothly, without wasted, dead space in  between. "Otherwise it will be difficult for  the audience," she notes.

Messiah will feature tassa and steelpan for the first time ever, anywhere on Earth. It's an odd claim to fame for a piece of music notorious for not having one single "authentic" version, given how Handel was inclined to constantly vary it to match his circumstances. One thing is clear though. While this production will not radically alter the structure and form of Handel's intricate word-painting, it's gonna rock. The juxtaposition of tassa and pan with a piece that has earned a reputation for being a favorite of the conservative classical crowd (despite the music's rock-star tendencies) is notable.

But do we need to stage Messiah now? What's the relationship between this piece of music and our own history? Society? Culture? Or does the asking of these questions impose an artificial barrier between us and this music, a barrier which no great art admits or tolerates? Thus perhaps the question should be: why not? And why not now given the constant need for hope?

"This is a great piece of music," Bishop tells her soldiers at the end of three long hours of rehearsal. "I want  each and every one of you, when you go home  tonight, to reconnect with just how great  this piece of music is."


Bishops Antesy High School Hall on Sunday, December 7, 2009.

Tickets for Messiah are available at the Queen's Hall box office. CHECK the Queen's Hall website here.







12/6/09

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


WHO?

Akuzuru is Space-ness. To be her is an expansive continuum, unlimited. To ask who she is, is almost belittling as it presents a solid boundary or box around herself. She’s much too ethereal for that. Static she is not, but very much an Experiential Artist.


WHAT?

She presents deeply sensorial experiences to re-engineer the thinking channels of the gaze. She removes those who dare to be in the immediate vicinity of the presentation, from the comfort of the familiar only to find that they are in the familiar, but within a perceptive suspension of their own mis or non–understanding which may lead to a realization, probably long after the attendance. As an Experiential Artist she executes her Spatial Works through the engaging instrumentations of monumental sculptural installations, photography, video, performances and writings. Materials include the air that all of humanity share on this planet, debris from nature and other organisms-dead or alive-people, and a whole lotta guts packed with honesty.


WHEN + WHERE?

The artist has shown on various locations in the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and Asia. Here are her very recent works:

2009

V E I N : solo performance Spatial Work at the Alice Yard art space, Trinidad.

Trans-Portal //=\\ The Ascent: performance video currently showing at the high profile group exhibition entitled 'Rockstone and Bootheel' at Real Art Ways, Connecticut in the United States of America.

Germination: two performances-Parts 1 & 2-shown over a two day period at Queen’s Hall in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on special invitation at the 2009 CoCo Dance Festival.

2008

Earthology India - a Spatial Work in 3 Acts

Her latest ongoing project entitled -Earthology- is a global venture. Funded by the Commonwealth Foundation in London, United Kingdom, the first leg of this major work took place in India over a six month period, the results of which are presented in the form of an Artist Book entitled: Earthology India-a Spatial Work in 3 Acts (2008). 

Conceptually, this work is a poetic interrogation on becoming of the self through self induced non-identity, an autobiographical connection to existential interrelations and a refocused re-constructed perspective on loss via disruptive interventions in the environment and a reclaim to the Mother. Presented in three acts, this single work of myriad dimensions is one of the most ambitious and important of the artist’s oeuvres to date. Produced on location in several parts of New Delhi and Bangalore, the endeavour also included a solo exhibition of the artist’s installation-performance work titled: Momentum-Autobiography of an Odd Child at the Gallery Sumukha in Bangalore. The book presents visually stunning reproductions of the artist’s sculptures, installations, performances and drawings. Also, including a published review of the work and an essay by two renowned writers and curators in India, as well as a proposal written by the artist to one of the organizations in India, which was integral to the project. 

From Germination at the CoCo Dance Festival, Queen's Hall, Port of Spain on October 15, 2009.

An Experiential Art Production: this book is a limited edition which was printed and bound in India. Earthology India was acquired by The National Library in Port of Spain (NALIS), as well as the Main Library of the University of the West Indies, Trinidad.

2007

Trans-Portal//=\\The Ascent: an installation and performance work presented at the 2nd Bieniel de la Martinique, on the Estate of Fonds Saint Jacques.

Cogni-Dysaesthesia: an extensive solo exhibition of 6 sculptural installations and drawings at L’Atrium- Centre Martiniquais d’Action Culturelle (CMAC) Galerie Andre Arsenec. Fort de France, Martinique.


WHY?

To evolve the conscient and further captivate the supra-existences.

PLEASE SAY SOMETHING DEEP (ABOUT ART):

To not say is to say. Memory remains. Thus the transformative force of LOVE is activated. This is all-encompassing, all-embracing, all-powerful.

(c) Akuzuru 2009

ASK AND ANSWER THE QUESTION YOU WANTED US TO ASK:

[The artist did not respond.]
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(BTW WE SHOULD ALSO ADD):

Akuzuru was artist-in-residence at the Bag Factory in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002 and a participant in the 2006 Galvanize arts programme in Trinidad. The recipient of a Commonwealth arts residency, she last month performed VEIN at Alice Yard, Woodbrook, to coincide with the Commonwealth People's Forum. This is what she looks like:

Akuzuru surveys the scene at Alice Yard, Port of Spain, on November 23, 2009, after her performance of VEIN that evening. Photos by Andre Bagoo. 

SEE images from Akuzuru's VEIN at Alice Yard last month here. FIND out more about the piece here. CHECK out 'Rockstone and Bootheel' here. VISIT a profile of the artist at the Bag Factory website here. READ more about Akuzuru's work for Galvanise here. This/discourse/has/no/start(middle)nd is an interview series featuring the responses of Trinidad artists. LEARN more about it here.