art in all its forms

art in all its forms


'To present the world in a new light'


"It is not a question of avoiding issues but of being crafty, like the politicians, in portraying them. Literature is above all story-telling. And as China Achebe has said, story-telling is a threat. Story-tellers, poets, writers have always found ways of confronting tyranny, especially in places where conditions are dangerous and deadly. Throughout the ages, writers have developed and employed myriad literary devices and explored the fullsomeness of language through, for example, satire, realism, magical-realism, fables, and so on. Writers throughout the ages have found ways to talk about issues like politics without seeming to talk about them. The function is not to present the world as it is, but to present it in a new light through the narrative power of art. Literature does not ask, 'what is it about?' It asks. 'how do we tell it to make it real?'

"So if I have to answer the question, 'Should literature be political?' I would say, 'Yes, but not in an explicit way.' The purpose of literature is not to represent but to re-present: to hold up that mirror in a light that enables us to see reality both reflected, inflected and refracted. As writers, we live lives that are not navel-gazing but conscious and fully-engaged with the world. Gaugin said, 'Art is either plagarism or revolution'.

"Let me end by taking issue with the title of this debate. Should the subject matter be prescribed by anyone? I say no. Let us end by revolting against those who would apply the word should to art, even in a question. To young writers I say ignore prescription. Don't be left behind. Write on."

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Poet, novelist and short-story writer Olive Senior answers the question: Should literature be political? at a special discussion on Sunday at Trinidad and Tobago's Bocas Lit Fest



With this bread

FROM last night's launch of Bread - a new EP by the band with the best band-name ever, Gyazette - at the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, Belmont. FIND out more here.



Check out Draconian Switch 20

From 'Lightraits' by Kriston Chen, featured in the latest issue of Draconian Switch.

Draconian Switch, Issue 20, ably designed by the excellent Kriston Chen, is now out. Edited by Mariel Brown and published by Richard Rawlins, this issue features fiction from Sharon Millar, art by Sheena Rose, Ewan Avery, Kriston and much more! Am also pleased to be included in this 20th issue via a review of Trinidad artist Steve Ouditt’s latest show at Medulla Gallery (special thanks to Kriston for his company on a recent visit to the Medulla space). CHECK out DS 20 here.

'Bodies clothed in solid colour'

Mohammeds - an exhibition and artist talk by Sandra Brewster at Alice Yard
Sandra Brewster has been artist in residence at Alice Yard during February and March 2013. While in Port of Spain, she has created a new body of work, Mohammeds, which has evolved from her ongoing Smiths series. On Thursday 4 April, to mark the end of her residency, Brewster will show this new work at Alice Yard, and give a short artist’s talk. The exhibition will be open to the public from 7 to 10 pm on 4 April, and from 6 to 9 pm on 5 April.

From the artist:
Among the series I’ve worked on, the Smiths have been a recurring theme. The name Smith, a large section of a North American telephone directory, conjures up ideas of sameness and commonality and invisibility, as there are so many. Offering an element of humour, I use the name to mock the notion of a monolithic Black community — of course not all Smiths are related, or look or act the same. The Smiths are afro-headed characters that I present as paintings on slabs of wood, their bodies clothed in solid colour and their faces replaced with the Smith section of the phone directory. I continue to use them in various visual narratives and pieces that offer a questioning around concerns of identity and representation. Now the Smiths from Toronto have turned into Trinidadian Mohammeds.