art in all its forms

art in all its forms


Film Review: 'The Hobbit' has a heart of darkness

The Hobbit is easily the best of the Lord of the Rings films. It's powerful and self-assured and I found it far more enjoyable than the previous two instalments. Perhaps what causes this is a combination of factors including: a more conscious effort to cultivate areas of ambiguity in the plot while keeping that plot elegantly focused; the sense that a mythic world is being powerfully reinforced; and knowledge of the events which are to unfold in the later movies and the resultant sense of dramatic irony bathing everything.

On the first point, consider the opening montage recalling the fall of the Dwarf city Erebor to the dragon Smaug, the key event that sets in train the action of the film. It is suggested that the timing of this event is linked to the discovery of a strange stone – called the Arkenstone – in the depths of the mines beneath the city. Like the titular rings of the series, the stone has an effect on whoever possesses it; the power represented in the inanimate object achieves a kind of physiological corruption. The causal connection between the stone and Smaug is never explicitly explained but the narrative seems to hinge on some unspoken force, suggesting a moral compass rather than stating it. As in a parable or myth, we are invited to wonder about the link between the physical and the moral: corruption of the soul (greed) appears to invite a physical attack on the city. In the end, the film never shows us Smaug overtaking the city. The entire sequence makes clear that he takes over Erebor without actually showing his face. What we do see are silent mountains of gold, hoarded by the Dwarves, glimmering, bringing fire and doom.

Then there is the matter of the 3-D which is something of a gift: giving us Gollum like we have never seen him before. Gollum was already creepy in 2-D CGI but to see his eyes glow after catching a sliver of light in 3-D is to better appreciate his animus.

Another aspect of the older films heightened in this movie is the use of the eagle as a kind of motif. As in the Return of the King, eagles arrive at a key point to save the day. They were seen on-screen briefly and almost indirectly in the last movie. Here, Peter Jackson gives us more time with them, to see them clearly against the sunlight, though they never take over the show as the Tiger does in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. These eagles ask us to accept them as symbols. At the same time, and much like the Tiger in Life of Pi, they cut open the narrative and ask us to accept something more sublime and ambiguous than just an easy metaphor involving the role of the United States in World War II. Summoned by butterflies, these eagles are not political and want to inhabit a world of their own, flying above Middle Earth, unknown and unknowable to its inhabitants. A part of the story, they desire to remain free of its cage. They could represent technology, but in this world magic is already technology. They ask how the natural, supernatural and technological may be related, then fly away.  

There has been much discussion of The Hobbit’s high frame-rate, but this will not be a factor in most cinemas which are not equipped to play the new format (which supposedly renders a sharper image). Though it’s easy to say this film was nothing more than just another money-making opportunity for the producers, I found The Hobbit to be the justifiable foundation stone upon which all the other films are built. In this movie, there is the clear sense of being enmeshed in another world, a sense exquisitely heightened by the 3-D which – more than just being a means to justify a higher ticket price – allows greater room for differing textures of golden light and for a deeper immersion into that never-ending darkness Milton described in Samson Agonistes (“O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon / Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse”). The film, one of the best of the year, provides spell-binding sequences which linger in the mind. It is a majestic entertainment.



Eddie Bowen's San Souci


Medulla Art Gallery invites you to

SANS SOUCI 2009-2012
by Edward Bowen

Opening Reception: Thursday 18th October 2012
7:00 pm – 9.00pm
at 37 Fitt Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain.
RSVP 740 7597
Exhibition continues until Tuesday 13th November 2012


This exhibition by Edward Bowen features selected works from an intensive three year residency and working period in Sans Souci. The presentation brings together dominant elements in the artist's working process illustrating a continuous effort to further develop a personal aesthetic in painting.

In the past years of a fiercely independent and frequently controversial career path, the work has been characterized by powerful drawing, radical content and innovative, original, colour sequences and combinations. This affirmed Bowen’s highly individualized and specialist position in local fine art practice.

On several occasions since the late eighties, Bowen has been a national representative at international art forums, an Express columnist, lectured for many years at the University of the West Indies, with a short stint with the University of Trinidad and Tobago in 2010 for the new fashion design programme. He is currently in private studio practice and consultancy, operating between studio locations in Sans Souci and Port of Spain.


***TONIGHT: Andrea Arnold's 'Wuthering Heights' @ TTFF

Don't miss a special roof-top screening of Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights tonight at the Carlton Savannah. Arnold's film is as bruised, powerful and relentless as the turmoil that engulfs Heathcliff and Catherine through generations in Bronte's novel. If the film side-steps some of the book's devices, it does so to serve a larger story which, for the first time on the screen in a fictional account, places race centre-stage. This is not just a period film about a bygone era, it is a brooding poem about the state of many things today. UNMISSABLE.

The film will also screen with Adam Low's fine documentary, A Regular Black. FIND out more about the screenings and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF) here.


'I want to write poetry that is alive'


I want to write poetry that is alive, fresh, vibrant, contemporary in feeling, readable, thought-provoking, playfully subversive, powerful, and yet still tender. I want it to be full of the energy, culture, history, music, natural beauty, spirituality, and social struggles of Puerto Rico, and other islands of the Caribbean where I have visited or lived. The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman pulses with salsa, Latin jazz, reggaeton, bomba, the music of the trovadores, the cuatro, bachata, Kweyol rap, R&B, mento and the quadrille, rocksteady, roots reggae, and Ricky Martin’s pop music.

I have been writing poetry since primary school, because that is my way of processing life and engaging with the world. I don’t write love poetry, and I don’t rhyme. I write because I want to communicate with readers in a way that matters, makes an impact, or makes some kind of beneficial difference in the reader’s thoughts and in the society. Can poetry do that? I still believe in the power of the word.

Loretta has been nominated for the Felix Dennis Prize for best first collection in the Forward Prize. READ her own account of her craft - as recounted to me - at Caribbean Beat here.

Richard Rawlins 'Primary Property' @ Bohemia til Fri

Richard sends this message: "Show closing on Friday. Trust me yuh want to pass thru. 33 Murray Street, Port-of-Spain."

SEE more here.


'Mine is the poetry of the unpoetic'

Poetry is something I do; poems, things I make. Perhaps what I most enjoy is when something is done
when I’ve gone as far as I can, as far as my technique is capable of or as far as the material mysteriously lets me... Mine is the poetry of the unpoetic: everyday interaction, science, history…  Ordinary and specialist terms fuse. The poet distils, but also detects misuses of, language’s power.

VAHNI CAPILDEO interviewed by Zannab Sheik at I Don't Call Myself A Poet.

5 TT poets at Zocalo Poets

As the country marked its 50th anniversary of Independence, the Zocalo Poets website featured the work of five poets including: Mervyn TaylorVahni CapildeoColin RobinsonDanielle Boodoo-Fortune and Nicholas Laughlin. All of the posts also feature the work of artist Rodell Warner. (The image in this post is called Untitled (Kaleidoscope 1).)


****LIVE blogged: Trinidad & Tobago turns 50!

Like Cinderella, at the stroke of midnight Trinidad and Tobago will turn a new page. It will mark its 50th year as an independent nation, a milestone that is worthy of live blogging. Celebration "ground-zero" for this event will be Woodford Square, the normally quaint and picaresque park at the heart of the capital, Port-of-Spain. Tonight, the Square has exiled all its regular loafers and vagrants in exchange for burly security guards, curious on-lookers and acres of stage space. A gala cultural show is planned, the climax of which will be a re-enactment of the 1962 flag-raising ceremony. Stay tuned.

Scroll down to read how the night, which saw Machel Montano and many others perform, unfolded.


9.30pm: The festivities at Woodford Square at the heart of the capital started late, not surprisingly for a Trini event. For international audiences, I should inform you that Trinis are legendary for our lateness. For the organiser's sake I hope the programme does not lag too much because there is no way to push back midnight when the clocks will strike and the flag-raising re-enactment is due to take place...

9.40pm: A little more about tonight's programme. Firstly, there will be three parts: Prelude; Part II and Part III.

The Prelude was due to start at 5.30pm and wrap about an hour ago at 8.30pm. According to the programme, it was due to feature: pan, jazz, dance and "world music" (a term which the organisers apparently find fitting for Wendy Sheppard; Wendell Constantine and H20 flow). Many people are due to perform in this prelude and I think it's still going on...Is that De Fosto? Why yes it is. He is signing a tribute to TT's gold medallist in javelin, Keshorn Walcott. Lyrics include, "You get house, you get Toco golden boy!"

Part II will be a flag-raising ceremony, re-creating that moment in 1962 when the Union Jack was brought down and the new TT flag raised.

Part III will see a fireworks display. And Machel Montano.

You can read the full programme at the website of the Ministry of Planning and Development (note the name of this ministry) if you click this link here.

9.50pm: TV host Paul Richards, live on C TV, just described the show as a "cultural extravaganza". He reports a "massive crowd" at Woodford Square. Ruskin Mark, sports reporter, however reports that he is surprised that things are not as crowded as he expected.

9.53pm: The Minister of Planning Dr Bhoe Tewarie is addressing the crowd.

Tewarie delivers a speech which includes the following remarks:
Ladies and gentlemen I came here very early and took a look at what you were doing and how you were responding and looked at your faces on the screen because the camera was capturing it and I realised that you, my people, are the salt of the earth. This country would be nothing without you. Give yourself a round of applause! Tonight is not a night for talk, many of my Cabinet colleagues are here. All I want to say to you is thank you for coming. You are one of 1.3 million people of this world who have been born on this island. Cherish that as a gift from your maker. Let that be an indication of how important you are.

9.58pm: Dance interlude. The dancer wears red, white and black - the national colours. There is drumming.  He removes a white scarf (it gets chilly in the Square at night?). Wait- the scarf is really a sleeve. This is kinda cool. He's like the dervish. Without the dramatic spinning. His name is Juan Pablo Dennis, the announcer says after he finishes and leaves the stage. Apparently it was supposed to be "a Chinese classical dance".

10.08pm: Lord Relator performing. Lyrics are R-rated so will not repeat them here. Let's just say will not look at kaser balls or paimee the same way again. Paul Richard remarks: "he has perfect pitch, perfect rhythm". Ruskin Mark remarks: "he's so well versed".

10.13pm: 'I Love My Country' is performed by a young calypso star Jeromy Rodriguez.

Over on Twitter, Njisane Phillip says he will be going on CNC3 live in 2 minutes.

10.20pm: Woa it's actually the Mighty Trini! This is bringing back hazy memories of my childhood during the George Chambers years. Lyrics (by Merchant) include "If Trinidad was a boat I go sail on it. We are going to keep this boat sailing!" and "ah sailing with the boat sink or float". The flag posse in the front of the stage goin' wild! You have to give it to Mighty Trini, he's always had charm and charisma....loads more than a lot of the soca acts these days.

Tracy Assing on Twitter remarks:
 everyone is trying to make a red, white and black fashion statement. Mighty Trini in a "Plummer-esque" jacket
10.29pm: Getting a sense of a building crowd. One of my scantily-clad agents in the Square reports: "It's loud and the crowd is big". They go wild for Baron! Tommy Joseph comes on to introduce Joseph Adams singing Lord Brynner's classic 'Trinidad and Tobago Independence' (which is not an easy calypso sing by any standard).

10.38pm: A lot of chatter out there about "off" notes and who's singing flat. To the critics I say: you go out there and perform in the square, then we go talk!

10.39pm: Ras Commander mounts the stage. "Is 50 an yuh lookin good!" Next is King Austin singing 'Progress'.

11.07pm: My source in the crowd reports: "the Square looks wonderful. It's a nice arrangement. There are two stages. The crowd is good. I just saw Njisane and Keshorn!"

Here are a few blurry photos from the Square as well:

Ruskin Mark says, "It's the middle of the night but it feels like the middle of the day here."

11.23pm: It's fast approaching the midnight hour and, well, a really long song, primarily with the lyric, "Trinidad", is wrapping up now...that was the "jazz" segment of the "Prelude" apparently. 

Paul Richards reports that the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's car has arrived. Part II, involving speeches by the Prime Minister and President George Maxwell-Richards is due to begin at 11.45pm. 

A fella is singing on the stage. Have no idea who he is.

11.28pm: Meanwhile, tonight's events in the square are running parallel to the PNM's own event at Balisier House. Rhoda Bharath, at that location, on her Facebook page remarks of the events there :
I have been to livelier funerals... The person responsible for the creative direction of this programme should be horsewhipped.
Ouch Rhoda. Maybe there should have been teamwork and one bigger, better show would have resulted? We will never know. Maybe at the 100th anniversary.

11.31pm: Back at Woodford Square, some persons dressed as members of the Coast Guard, in smart uniforms, are now being marshalled into the Square. We are preparing now for the re-enactment of the flag-raising. Part II begins.

Apparently there are actors for all the "characters" of the original.There is a mock Eric Williams, even a mock Princess Royal. When they said re-enactment, I thought it was going to be simple. Didn't expect them to go all out! The organisers have even ensured that all the members of the British Navy are portrayed by only white white actors.

There are two flag poles near the centre of the square, just off the fountain. The mood now is of a panto.

The Union Jack is raised and then abruptly falls. Paul Richards, "I wonder if that was part of the plan?" Mark Ruskin, "I suppose the Union Jack does not want to go up".

Several smartly dressed "guests" also arrive. The "Eric Williams" character is actually a good likeness, and they got Sir Solomon Hochoy's glasses just right! Not sure about the crown of the Princess Royal.

In enters Persad-Bissessar (in a bit of time-travel apparently) who is handed the national flag. She hands it over to the TT Regiment, "holders of the highest Order of Trinidad and Tobago" the narrator on the scene says.

The Union Jack is lowered (well stayed lowered after falling earlier).

The TT flag is attached to its pole. There is a very long delay.

11.50pm: The announcer then says, "we wait til midnight to hoist the flag". Oh God! someone in the audience shouts. Am hoping my clock is wrong. "They are well ahead of schedule in terms of where they need to be right now," Ruskin Mark says. Paul Richards says that "according to protocol" the flag cannot be raised before midnight. One wonders about this, as it is impossible to not raise the flag before midnight, it being a point in time...

11.55pm: The flag is hoisted at last! The crowd cheers, the National Anthem plays, one person sings! Cheers! The flag sways gently, not much breeze in the Square. Unable to lift itself, it looks, desolately, to the sky. A representative from the IRO prays:
We pray for the victims of crime and the delinquent. We remember and ask your blessings for our Ancestors who toiled endlessly. Thank you dear Lord let you light always shine on Trinidad and Tobago
August 31,
12am: Independence Day!

12.03am: The pageantry continues as the "Princess Royal" actually reads the original speech read at the opening of the First Parliament. A snippet:
My Government no longer has any responsibility for this country. My Government wishes to maintain the bonds of friendship which have existed for over 150 years. Small in numbers though the population may be it constitutes a microcosm of the larger world. Here every creed and race find and equal place.
Now, "Dr Williams". The actor is good, but there have been better imitations of Dr Williams and his peculiar style. He has a good intonation though, suggesting Williams as opposed to channelling him.

Now the "Leader of the Opposition" Dr Capildeo. The actor looks and sounds absolutely nothing like the original. This is "method acting" in the extreme, dear readers.

Jesus Christ! Just got a close-up of "Sir Solomon Hochoy"'s awful hair!

12.12am: Okay that very awkward part is over. Now Mavis John comes on to sing 'God Bless Our Nation'. She says, "I was here 50 years ago. And I hope to have another 50 years." The crowd starts to sway. This version of the song has been spruced up with some sitar and tassa and keyboard. Mavis John looks lovely, in a beautiful wine-coloured dress.

On a side note, I've never thought 'God Bless Our Nation' would have made a better anthem. I find the current anthem is actually very distinctive, dramatic and rousing, grammatical ambiguities and all.

12.21am: Speech time folks! The Prime Minister comes on to Benjai's 'Trini'. Flags are being handed out in the square, Paul remarks. Apparently, Machel has been spotted backstage.

The Prime Minister's remarks include:
I greet and welcome you this evening with a very profound sense of honour to be the one destiny has chosen to herald this moment in history....On this day the father of the nation Dr Eric Williams stood right here. We were declaring that we were captains of our own ship of state.Tonight let us pay tribute to the founding father or our nation Dr Eric Williams. Let us pay tribute to the first Leader of the Opposition Dr Rudranath Capildeo...
You can read the full speech, when they post it, here.

The Prime Minister calls on Keshorn Walcott just before closing her 12-minute speech with, "May God continue to bless each and everyone of you! The great nation that is Trinidad and Tobago. Thank you, God bless!"

12.34am: The President addresses the crowd. His remarks include:

Tonight’s event generates excitement, as it should. The occasion is as solemn, as it is pulsating. But euphoria must not be allowed to cloud sober reflection, as reality will not go away. We need to ask ourselves whether we are living up to the expectations of our freedom fighters, who did battle, not with guns, but with intellectual prowess, artisan skills, artistic brilliance, sport and diplomatic savoir faire to secure our place among the family of independent Nations.

The speech is about 15 minutes long. You may read the full text, when they post it, here.

12.50am: Fireworks above the Square!

1.01am: The Independence Monarch, Chucky, performs to a bored crowd. I think somebody throws something on-stage. The DJ says "make some noise for the President of Trinidad and Tobago!" And now, its Machel Montano HD.

Some techno/house beats start pulsing. This is kinda groovy, "Represent! Represent! it's one love! Put yuh hand in a d air and jump! Anybody from Trinidad? Anybody from Barbados? Let me see your hand!" Flags real moving.

Machel wears an all-red jacket, red cap and red shoes, black jeans, red bow tie. At one point, he brings on Neeval, former Digicel Rising Star. Some interesting interplay between genres there. They jump up arm-in-arm, and their voices actually blend well. Could a new boy-band be in the making? Maybe KI -who later comes on stage to render the haunting song 'Single Forever' - would also be a great member to add to the consortium. The crowd though looks a bit stony.

Soon the red jacket disappears dramatically, it's white shirt only. Machel performs 'One More Time' and I wonder if the barricade by the stage will hold up. Droopatie joins him as well! And Benjai! Benjai steals the show with his 'Trini'. Even Machel declares the song to be the anthem of TT's 50th anniversary. Benjai puts on a sparkling performance, too.

The same cannot be said for Farmer Nappy who comes on to sing 'Surrender (Your Batty)' in the tightest pair of red and black plaid trousers seen on the planet. It looks painful, but he has no difficulty prancing around. Things go back into equilibrium when Patrice Roberts, who is so perfect it hurts, comes on. [NOTE: Iwer George, one of many people said to be at odds with Machel, also performed with him in a moment of unity which contrasted with our politicians.]

Reader, the culture overwhelms. It is a huge wake-up! And a fitting end. Now, at 50, let us slip out into the night. Age is but a number.


Dispatch from Kingston: O'Neil Lawrence's 'Son of a Champion'

In July, Jamaican artist O'Neil Lawrence unveiled his latest works at an exhibition entitled, 'Son of a Champion' at the Mutual Gallery at Kingston, Jamaica.

It seems fitting to share these snapshots from that show today, as Jamaica marks its 50th anniversary of independence and celebrates Usain Bolt's great repeat victory in the 100m sprint at the Olympics on Sunday.

The show was a personal statement about living in the shadow of greatness; about being overtaken by time and the forces of a self-imposed discipline.

All photos courtesy the artist.


READ more about this show hereCHECK out O'Neil's website here.


Draconian Switch 17!

This issue of Switch includes writing by Dave O. Williams, Marsha Pearce, Mariel Brown and Andre Bagoo, and considers the work of architect Colin Laird, reviews the film Doubles with Slight Pepper, ponders the new art book Pictures from Paradise and ruminates on Caribbean Cautionary Tales.

READ it here.


A note on notebooks

Somehow they conspired to get together.
In truth, they were meant for each other.
READ MORE  from a field note by me on the relationship between my poetry and journalism just posted at the amazing Exit Strata website here.


Special delivery

APT (ed. Nicholas Laughlin)
All I Can Say Is What I Can Say / What I Can Say Is All I Can Say (by Nicholas Laughlin)
Neither Here Nor There (by Alicia Milne)
Pinky & Emigrante (by Alicia Milne and Luis Vasquez La Roche)


THAT morning, I was not expecting it. An A4 envelope addressed to me: too large to be a bill or a simple letter, too small to be one of those unaddressed spam magazines. The return address is written in a familiar but not immediately recognisable handwriting (how little we see each other's handwriting in these days of emails, blogs, Facebook!) I do the usual hold up to the light and check test to ascertain if anything explosive is inside, then carefully open it. A small note:
APT is a found journal. Its form is its content and its content is its form.  
The October 2011 issue of APT is made of pages torn more or less at random from a 2009-2010 Trinidad and Tobago telephone directory.  
It is titled REPUBLIC.                
                                               Nicholas Laughlin, editor

Inside the envelope are seven, non-consecutive, pages from the telephone directory, folded into a booklet form with a stapled spine. APT is stamped near the top right-hand corner, a date and issue number, stamped beneath: 01 // October 2011. The pages seemed ripped, neatly but in a way that, for me, brings attention to the violence required to rip a page out of a book. The numbers on one page were persons with the surname George, beginning with George-Hutchinson Sybil 648-4155.

This feels like receiving an intriguing puzzle. And all over I seek out and think I find clues. APT, anagram for TAP, PAT. REPUBLIC is in bold, as is APT. Could this be more than just a stylistic touch? Combine the words and play around. Hundreds of words emerge between them including possibilities like: blur, clip, cut, club, ripe. The ripped pages of the directory bring attention to the feel and texture of things: they are light yet oddly heavy. The pages are the most functional thing you can imagine and are not meant as art but if you LOOK at them you seek out how they are ordered: the lines of text; the seeming juxtaposition of strangers. The entire exercise is sensory: a reminder to look, see, feel, smell, think. This is a fine example of the kind of thing that is happening in what is an increasing trend in Trinidad: excitingly strange art is coming in the mail.

It's not really surprising. Decades after oil and gas booms, the State has demonstrated that it has no real concern with art or spaces for it. Art is used, but not preserved. Into this there are new spaces emerging. Some are taking things - literally - into their own hands. Art has gone private, underground. One off-shoot: mail as art.

The idea of mail as art is a world-wide development given that the postal services are not as frequently used today as they once were. We are now a little bit crazy over e-cards, emails, online chat and video, social networks, blogs and comment forums. Forms to apply for things are online, transactions are downloaded and uploaded. Of course there are some things that still come in the mail: bills, formal letters and bank statements (though increasingly you can opt out of these). So when something as simple as a letter or a note comes in the mail, it is almost a thrill.

Laughlin, an administrator of Alice Yard and editor of the Caribbean Review of Books, knows a thing or two about finding new spaces and the thrill of correspondence. The theme is a key concern in his poetry and a natural extension of TOWN the literary journal. A few weeks after APT arrives there is another envelop waiting for me in the mail. Smaller, with a bit of scotch-tape securing its contents. Two small items are inside.

The items are two cadmium blue postcards. One reads: "ALL I CAN SAY IS WHAT I CAN SAY" ; another "WHAT I CAN SAY IS ALL I CAN SAY". The text is in white in a sans serif font. On the reverse of one card is that familiar handwriting from before: "AND SOME DAYS I SEEM TO HAVE NOTHING AT ALL TO SAY. -" The other card, a simple signature and date: "N. 3 Dec. 2011."

A few months later, more. From a different source.

A white envelop with a stark black font. The letters P & E and my name and address. Inside a small booklet, one side Emigrante the other Pinky. Three flyers to post on walls as I please. This is the work of Alicia Milne and Luis Vasquez La Roche who have mailed out, in a personalised kind of way, zines. (I have written a blurb for this project.)

More clues: "We place our work in the streets and curate encounters with the public. Existing in the landscape, the work no longer belongs to its creators, it becomes art for all," a notice reads. Then, images playing on ideas of HE v. SHE, part and whole, pleasure and pain, screaming and silence. Physical education (PE) comes to mind: play. Both are artists who produce work interrogating self and what it means to place the self across the boundaries letters normally transgress.

Exploring Milne's website, I encounter her zine Neither Here Nor There. The artist mails out a copy to whoever emails her asking for it.

A few days later, it arrives in the smallest of envelops. Inside are words, maps and drawings of fictional and real places. I can decipher the following phrases throughout the zine: to somewhere; Point A Point B Point C Point D Point E; no scale available, dark-ness, the constant flow; Pass through time; the clusters descend, scale variable; a fraidy place is always uncertain; sometimes north, sometimes south; nice, nicer; straight straight straight straight; and still I feel uncertain.

Where the self is; the idea of travel and of order; of mapping the terrain; of moving between motions, states, emotions. Somehow all of this comes to mind. It's the kind of thing possible with art that comes in the mail. There is so much more of it out there, too.


Water most closely resembles space

Photo courtesy Letizia Gramaglia

Water most closely resembles space,
more so than our hard imagining
of ideal nothings; water, sure as snakes
are steady, pouring over every sit-


Trinidadian Poet Vahni Capildeo reads 'Anaconda' from Undraining Sea (2009) in this amazing new pod-cast at Spaces Between Words. She also reads from Utter, another completed book, and gives insight to her process of writing.


When people say things like, 'what does this poem mean?' or 'how can you summarise this line?' I think well what is the point of writing a poem rather than writing a report? Because I want to be able to evoke contradictions and produce what could be called cognitive dissonance which, I think, is a very natural state and also sometimes to be able to grasp certain truths which are not, perhaps, theorisable.

I mean obviously I am not a physicist but I think there are certain truths about the simultaneous perception of time and memories, like the memory of a migrant, that can be apprehended poetically in a certain way beyond what can be described in a scientific report.

I think what I do is I try to be very aware all the time of the rhythm of people's voices; of sense stimuli; of  bigger implications like political implications underlying what someone is saying personally: so the matrix in which people say things or in which people act. I would try to think myself into other people's heads, almost like finding out what particular music moves that person. And, also, a kinda of thick description to the environment in which anything happens. I am conscious, for example here, of talking in a very blue and green room and I better go back and write about this: blue and green things will start to emerge in my head.

So after a lot of very vigorous and vivid experience of living and then disciplined reading (and also pleasurable reading) I'd grow an interior journey. I look without compromise at what is coming up in my mind. It's like a thread has exercised my mind and what kind of dance is it going to do. And if my mind presents me with a sequence of images, I might interrogate it; ask where do these come from. But not really why are they there. The question why is for the revision process. I put down the truth of what my mind presents when it is made to focus very quietly.

Maybe part of the reason literature is there is to remind us that we don't have to take a tool-kit and come up with a solution, but you need to keep on trying and trying and marvelling. Maybe it is the humility of marvelling.






*   *

Of renewal

FIND out more here

Unknown runner

By Chris Ofili for the 2012 Olympics. 

FIND out more, including a video by Tracy Assing about it, at ARC here.


La Busqueda


Medulla Art Gallery is pleased to invite you to
The Search – La Busqueda
an exhibition of drawings by Luis Vasquez La Roche

OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday 14th June 2012,  6.30pm – 9.00pm
at 37 Fitt Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain. RSVP 740 7597/

ARTIST TALK: Thursday 05th July, 6.30pm – 9.00pm
Exhibition continues until Monday 09th July 2012

The use of different drawing mediums, from charcoal to graphite, reflects a transition in my concepts. The charcoal drawings explore a more emotional and confusing beginning of my search. The drawings with graphite on paper are more contained and logical, almost mathematical. Even though the figures seem to be geometrically accurate and proportioned, slight variations and adjustments have been made to make the drawing imperfect. These drawings explore more in depth questions like: which nationality represents me? which race do I feel more identified with? which culture I am most influenced by? And what are the traits of this new culture that I wish to adopt? Luis Vasquez La Roche 2012

Luis Vasquez La Roche was born in 1983 in Caracas, Venezuela. He moved to Trinidad and Tobago in 2002. He later studied Visual Arts at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. He has participated in a several group shows including Erotic Art Week in Trinidad, 2010, Mensajes Positivos in Chile, 2011, PFC (pon una foto en la calle) in Venezuela, 2012, and special guest as P&E (Pinky and Emgrante) at Woma in Grenada, 2012. He has also been part of urban art projects including P&E, 2011, Who Am I?, 2012 and Urban Heartbeat, 2012.


Calabash 2012: jubilation

Novelist Chimananda Ngozi Adichie, author of Purple HibiscusHalf of a Yellow Sun and The Thing Around Your Neck (stories) reads on Friday 25, May, at Treasure Beach in front of a packed crowd. (Photo by Andre Bagoo)


The more literary festivals there are in the Caribbean the better and Calabash attracts a devoted, enthusiastic (and large) following, amid the stunning backdrop of Treasure Beach. 

The festival itself was dedicated to Jamaica's 50th Anniversary of Independence. Like the recently concluded Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad, the programme featured a wide range of talent from the Caribbean, the diaspora and all over the world. Readers included Adiche, Jamaican writer and poet Olive Senior, Orlando Patterson, Victor Lavalle and many more.

I also managed to catch excellent readings from several poets including: Jacqueline Bishop; Loretta Collins; Christine Craig; Fred D'Aguiar; Shara McCallum; Anis Mojgani; Claudia Rankine; and Kevin Young.

Olive Senior (far right), author of Dancing Lessons; Kerry Young (Pao), Sadie Jones (The Uninvited Guests) and Melissa Jones (Emily Hudson) (left) pose for photographers after reading on Saturday at Treasure Beach.

The sun sets on Treasure Beach on the last day of the festival as poet Loretta Collins Klobah hands over the original script of The Harder They Come to Perry Henzell's family.


SEE + READ more here. CHECK the Calabash website here.


Seductions of text and object

May 25, 2012, Medulla Art Gallery, Fitt Street, Woodbrook, in collaboration with ARC magazine.

As the name, “Interpretations’ implies the gathering will focus on various perspectives of Thomas-Girvan’s work through a critical, exacting and nurturing framework. Personal connections to her studio practice will be explored along with the various seductions of text and object. The presenters will engage with re-readings of Thomas-Girvan’s work from a literary, philosophical, art historical and liminal perspective. The event will showcase new works by visual artists Jaime Lee Loy and Michelle Isava.

Speakers for the night include writer and scholar Gabrielle Hezekiah, whose work centers on philosophy, visual art and theories of the moving image, short story writer Sharon Millar, co-editor of Robert & Christopher Publishers and Art Director of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival Melanie Archer, artist and Rhodes Trust Fellow, Marsha Pearce, and Barbadian contemporary artist, educator and cultural activist Annalee Davis.

FIND out more here. READ a review of Jasmine Thomas Girvan's Gardening in the Tropics here.


Pictures from paradise

Pictures from Paradise: A Survey of Contemporary Caribbean Photography
(Robert & Christopher Publishers, ISBN: 978-976-95344-7-6, pp.222)

IN THEIR introduction, editors Melanie Archer and Mariel Brown make clear their intentions.

“Pictures from Paradise seeks to examine the ways in which contemporary art photography has evolved within the English-speaking Caribbean, rising beyond idyllic scenes to tackle more intricate issues,” they state.

“Within the past few years, regional artists working with the medium of fine art photography have provided us with an increasingly searching image of the Caribbean and the people who inhabit it. In recognising that the region is not the picture-perfect paradise of traditional depictions, these artists focus instead on what is not easily seen or that which is often ignored – the complex social, racial, political and physical relationships and landscapes that exist within the Caribbean.”

This is a book many have been waiting for. It succeeds — spectacularly — in not only showcasing the work of established and newer artists, but also in going beyond the old clichés of what photography from “the tropics” is thought to be about: building a far more complex picture which makes us stop and think about history and about some of the issues we deal with on a daily basis. Indeed, as the editors suggest, these pictures aim to photograph that which we cannot see or do not wish to see.

READ full review at Newsday here.


A mosaic

What is Caribbean art?: why we need art history, a discussion at the 2012 Bocas Lit Fest


WHO AND what is art for? Is art meant to be seen or experienced? Who is the intended audience? Do artists make work just for the sake of the work; for themselves or for others? Do artists create for a country or a region or an even broader audience? Do they imagine their work speaking to others, speaking after death?

We have to pose these questions when we address another: what is the importance of preserving Caribbean art? (And, by the way, what is Caribbean art?)

A special panel discussion put on at the recent Bocas Lit Fest  at the Old Fire Station Building in Port of Spain addressed the question of the need for art history. The panel, chaired by editor Nicholas Laughlin, included co-author of Art in the Caribbean, Anne Walmsley, artist Christopher Cozier, art teacher Andy Jacob, and cultural studies lecturer Marsha Pearce.

Walmsley spoke about the process of putting together Art in the Caribbean: An Introduction, which she co-authored with artist Stanley Greaves.

"The book is an attempt at chronicling the region's art," she said. "But it is not art history as art history is practicised today. It is a chance to look at work in different ways. I tried to find out more about the artists and their backgrounds. I found there was very little published material at the time." The idea behind the book was to be a kind of gallery or showcase.

"We would have a collection of images in a gallery in a book of reproductions with text alongside each: a visual anthology," she said. "We were very aware that it must be a regional book. It had to be regional. I was aware that we just did not know enough about art in the region. The Caribbean is--to use Christopher Cozier's phrase--an imaginary space. The work is all made here, even though some of the artists work abroad." With so much ground to cover, however, there were challenges.

"The actual selection was incredibly difficult," Walmsley said. "We had to pick work of quality that would repay close study." And work which was also in a form available for publication.

Pearce argued that the book presents a multi-faceted view, like looking through the lense of an insect's "compound eye".

"What you get is a mosaic," she said. "There is not only one lens. I feel that this book attempts that kind of mosaic." At a recap of the discussion published at art magazine ARC's website, she calls for, "a compound way of seeing the Caribbean in relation to artistic practice."

Christopher Cozier, Anne Walmsley and Nicholas Laughlin. Photo by Andre Bagoo.

"A compound eye is that which is made up of many, separate visual receptors.," Pearce writes. "Each receptor has its own lens and each lens catches its own image. A compound eye gives rise to a mosaic image. The more lenses the compound eye has, the higher the resolution or detail of the mosaic image. This compound way of seeing is critical for a space like the Caribbean, which we cannot hope to see and understand with one lens or in a stereoscopic way. Lenses are required in Curacao, St Vincent, Haiti; lenses must be focused in each of the various islands and anywhere else Caribbean people may find themselves: in Asia, in Africa, in Europe, in Brooklyn, in Melbourne. The mosaic image is a re-membering of the various lenses. A compound way of seeing can give us a higher resolution image of what a category, which we might call Caribbean art, looks like." Laughlin also noted that, "No single book is ever definitive."

There was discussion on the possibilities of the internet as providing a digital archive and the differences between seeing work in person, on the printed page and online. Cozier suggests that the internet opens up possibilities and takes on a life of its own.

"All artists are very concerned about the context of how their work is conveyed," he said. "The internet has changed everything. It allows all kinds of secondary genres: it becomes a parallel reality to the physical world." Pearce suggests that web archives address the inaccessibility of regional art.

"There is a glaring invisibility of art-work in the region for students. Students were not aware of art beyond Trinidad and Tobago. There is a need for students to know." Jacob saw no difference between the internet as a medium and printed forms.

"The difference between books and the internet is not that significant," he argued. "I don't think there is anything that is inherently different from the internet and the printed page."


SEE more here. Art in the Caribbean (New Beacon Books, 2010)



ARC magazine and Rodell Warner are up to some magic. SEE more here.