Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thoughts on 'Touching'

Below is the written element to a submission of images for a virtual exhibition entitled 'Touching'. The exhibition is an element of a symposium at UTT on domestic violence.

Touching. To be touched - is it a physical sensation, a warm fuzzy feeling, or could it be a hurtful gesture? Who or what touches us? A lover, a stranger, a family member, an organization, a nation, a situation, a comment. If a lover and a hater can both touch us, could we then say that we are both voluntarily and involuntarily being touched? Are the sensations, thoughts and beliefs derived from these touching experiences out of our control? And the products, perhaps the writings and art works, of these experiences a conscious reaction?

Is the touching evident in the way she carries herself, worn like a shield on her breast? Does she wrap herself in a cloak to hide from these touchings only for them to be evident in and on the cloak itself? Does she run in flight from these touchings only to be haunted by them when she returns? Does the assistant know the extent of these touchings? Does she know she is part of the artist’s touching experience?

The Little Venus. Talparo, 2007.

Negative and positive energies are generated from these moments of touching, adding and subtracting from the initial touching experience. These touchings provide reference and context for the work. They may also be the work itself. Is the work then a conscious expression of the experiences? Or a facet, a by-product, a scar in the greater scheme off these touching experiences?

I often question whether one can really choose the work. I believe my work chooses me. My mind is conditioned by my touching experiences and the work can oftentimes acts as a problem solving mechanism. Then I wonder do I really have control over my work? Perhaps it is a mix of conscious effort and subconscious instincts that produce these intriguing objects. Could the relationship between experiences, the artist and the artwork be simplified into an equation?

an artist + a history of touching experiences = interesting work?

I think, quite possibly, yes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A short story of Alice

Her name is Alice. But she also goes by whitee, whites, pinky, reds, fine lips, pink nipples, ey look a white gyal, sexy reds, how long yuh staying in Trinidad. Empress, honkie, convant girl, you never sweep ah floor or plait ah hair. Ooooo dey ooooo dey oooh oh oh, cyah cyah cyah cyah. She was always too skinny, too white, too rich, too poor to be one of them. They spoke in accents to her and at her. It was always a joke. Oh goush, look at white people in ah old car! Cyah, cyah, cyah. Never comfortable in her home, in her school, in her skin, she somehow managed to hide the hurt. Pretend it was ok, that she was ok. A self conscious, shy, uncomfortable girl... All ah we is one, cyah, cyah, cyah...

This native has a narrative, and it's coming out.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

De Whitie Talks

I am currently working on a new and exciting project tentatively titled 'De Whitie Talks'. While reading I came across this interesting essay by Annie Pual, 'The Enigma of Survival: traveling beyond the expat gaze'. This particular excerpt stood out for me. NB, all phrases highlighted were done so by myself and not Annie Paul.

"Cozier's South African experience suggests that there is much to be gained from swiveling the steadfastly northward gaze of the expat art critic/historian in a southerly direction. The danger inscribed in the expat gaze is that one might end up being co-opted into nation narratives and thus miss the alterNATIVES such as Cozier, Ouditt, Bowen, Irenee Shaw, and others. Cozier talks of feeling "storyless" and "myth-less." The alterNATIVES are natives without narratives, or perhaps ones with unpopular or inconvenient narratives. Often their talent is recognized abroad before it is accepted as talent at home. In privileging a discourse about the self and the other exclusively, the expat gaze overlooks identities ostracized or exiled by the national. In between representations of the self and the other are lost a myriad of OUR SELVES who fall into the chasm between Us and Them. These are the untranslatables, the alterNATIVEs, those who resist translation into the language of the nation."

I think that I am one of the alterNATIVEs that Paul speaks of. The story of my nation does not include me. Where do I fit in, I often wonder? Are my narratives unpopular or inconvenient? I think so. How then do make my narrative part of the national narrative? Do I need to? Do I really want to? Does anyone else want to know or even care? Often times, I think not. Are we really all at Home in the Land of the Homeless? Some may be, but I feel that many, myself included, have a deep sense of non-belonging, an unwelcome-ness emanating from this space.

So then what of De Whitie Talks? What does the whitie have to say? Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Artist Statement

My work deals with issues of religion, prejudice and race relations. Due to my unique circumstances of growing up in Trinidad, I offer a different point of view on these delicate matters and contribute to the largely unvaried public discourse. All Caribbean people have been exposed in one way or another to prejudice.

Racial conflict between what is commonly referred to as the 'blacks' and the 'whites' of the region is often assumed to be the 'whites' playing the role of the oppressors and the 'blacks' the oppressed. As someone who is considered to be 'white' that grew up in a predominantly 'black' middle-class community, I am living testament that racial prejudice can go both ways. Both the 'blacks' and the 'whites' are oppressed at the hands of the other, and at times by themselves. It angers and disappoints me that a fellow countryman could be made to feel as though he doesn't belong in his own homeland.

The multicultural society of Trinidad and Tobago is full of religious fundamentalists and fanatics. These persons, who are so convinced in their beliefs, often discourage the exploration of any other belief system other than that of their own. This practice only perpetuates misunderstanding, segregation and prejudice within the society. For example my Roman Catholic parents would never allow my brother and I to attend the Divali and Eid-ul-Fitr school celebrations for fear of what spiritual attacks we may encounter. When questioned if I were to marry a Hindu man if she would attend the Hindu wedding ceremony, my mother replied that she would not, because it would not be a marriage recognised by God. I find these uninformed conclusions to be narrow-minded.

I believe that many Trinidadians are so concerned with their own realities that there is no interest in the other. The other man. The other religion. The other culture. I use my experiences in these matters as tools to digest and expel my own insecurities. The work is a reflection on my own understanding of the misfortunate actuality of the space in which I live.

The imagery found in my work is derived from the physical and social landscape of Trinidad and the experiences that take place in these spaces. My mediums of choice are paint (acrylic, emulsion, body paint) and fabric (canvas, cotton, cotton-blends). I produce sculptural works made of plaster. I also produce a bit of film/video and animation work."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Plaster Work

Examples of some of my plaster work from 2007-2008: a exciting, addictive and sometimes very painful way of working.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival

Luso Trinidad will be screened at the 3rd annual Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival in September at Movietowne. I was sceptical at first, as I know that it is not quite ready to be screened so publicly, but the synopsis of the film provided on the film companies website was very encouraging; I felt as though they 'got it'. So perhaps some of the short's viewers will 'get it' too. In any case the questions I will get after the screening will help me to clarify my own ideas for step two: a longer, clearer, well researched expansion of the original.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The short film is pretty much done

The film is mostly done...for the UWI screening. I want to further edit it over the summer period to clarify the story. I also uploaded it onto to youtube.com, you can view it and leave comments here. Unfortunately for you and fortunately for me the quality is not very good neither here nor on youtube, so you will have to come to the screening to see its true greatness! (7pm Friday 9th May 2008 @ National Museum and Art Gallery)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Luso Trinidad: Home in the land of the homeless

The short film that I am currently working on, Luso Trinidad: Home in the land of the homeless, will be screened at the National Museum and Art Gallery on Friday 9th May 2008 @ 7pm. The screening is part of the final year exhibition of the Visual Arts Department of the UWI St Augustine. The exhibition runs from Sunday 4th May (5pm) to Saturday 10th May 2008.

Luso Trinidad: Home in the land of the Homeless is a preliminary investigation into ‘whiteness’ and Luso-Trinidadian identity. This project begins to address prejudice in Trinidad that manifests itself the form of class and colour bias. Video interviews, animation, photo-manipulation and old film sources are combined to construct the narrative. This short film is in no way conclusive; it is a departure point for further examination.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Shrouds of myself. Part of a year long project of research and studio practice. All work was done between September and December 2007.

The Venus of Arima.

The Skin Revealed. More...

The Skin Revealed: Detail

Lady on red.

Our Little Lady.

The Little Venus.

LUSO Trinidad

A short film that I am currently working on. It will be screened in May at the National Museum. More details will come soon!

Luso Trinidad: Home in the land of the Homeless* is a preliminary investigation into ‘whiteness’ and Luso-Trinidadian identity. This project begins to address prejudice in Trinidad that manifests itself the form of class and colour bias. Video interviews, animation, photo-manipulation and old film are combined to construct the narrative. This short film is in no way conclusive; it is a departure point for further examination.

* One of the working titles. 'Home in the land of the homeless' is a line from Paul Simon's Hurricane Eye.