art in all its forms

art in all its forms


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


I was born in Tamale, Ghana, in West Africa to a Jamaican mother from Kingston proper and a Trinidadian father from Rousillac in south Trinidad. Yao is the first name I was given in life by the Twi nurses in the hospital. It means Thursday born, but it is now a joke to my new Chinese friends because it reminds them of Yao Ming (who appears to be, for them, the most famous person after Chairman Mao, which is, incidentally, what Derek Walcott insists on calling me).

My father was driving a cane truck and weighing cane at an age which would nowadays fall foul of child labour laws, and had his first pair of real shoes at 19. My mother and her siblings at that time were rubbing bread on the glass of a locked safe containing a block of cheese that they could see through one pane....

So, I am that. My mother has traced her roots in the Caribbean to Ghana (she hadn't known about this when she first made her way there) to one sole person: someone by the name of Addo, who eventually came to a plantation on the island of Barbados.


I'm a film director who has/had the luck (and burden) of having too many films to do at this or at any point in time. Right now, I'm on an undisclosed Caribbean island directing a feature with an lead actress who speaks only Mandarin (like her character). I'm feverishly learing a few words and phrases in Mandarin so that I can direct her gow da! (bigger!), hun gow da (bigger still!), shang sing (sad) and hun seeow(play it much smaller).

The main set is done by Cuban Leandro Soto in a Kubrick-meets-Caligari-meets-Cuba-in-the-seventies-on-one-too-many-rum-and-Cokes fashion and we're, at the time of writing this, awaitng the arrival of Bobby Dreadful , the male lead....


I'm in the present, running out of time before take-off (which, as I write this section, Monday January 11th , 2010). One of the hardest points is getting a feature airborne. A smooth take-off is rare because of how so much is coming to that point in time. You have to be as calm as a cosmonaut.

But, I've pretty much completed the choreography for the camera (which has a sweeter resolution than typical 35mm film) and laid down an aesthetic to complement and collide with the story or (dare I say?) the narrrative.

I hope to go to another phase with this one, you know, side step self-parody and frankly move on i.e. plenty dialogue and storyline in this one.


I really have no idea. I guess I always loved pictures. But, I've simply been unable to shake this spirit since 1984. I've been in a marriage with film for about 25 years and  friends, women and others have come and gone but I'm still with cinema. For better or for worse.


Art is! There can never be any satisfying definitions. Those who seek to chain it to rules or modalities are suffocating the child in its sleep. We also have fed on a mass media diet to the point of cranial oblivion, so it's frankly iffy between the environmental meltdown and minds being scrubbed out with blue soap if we can physically survive.


How come you've never gotten serious backing from your own country for your films? Speaks for itself.


Yao Ramesar's last film, Sista God II, screened at last year's Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF). This is what he looks like.

Yao Ramesar receieves the Saraswati Devi Award in 2000. Photo courtesy the artist. Header photo by Andre Bagoo.

FIND out more about Yao here. READ a Q&A at the TTFF blog here. CHECK out stills from his latest film, Stranger in Paradise, here.

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