art in all its forms

art in all its forms


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.