Friday, February 20, 2015

A conversation with Kaneesha Parsard

Monday 23 February, 2015, 7 pm, at Alice Yard

Michel Jean Cazabon, View of Port of Spain from Laventille Hill

Kaneesha Cherelle Parsard is a PhD candidate in American Studies, African American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. During the 2014-15 academic year, she has been based in Trinidad conducting research for her dissertation, “Improper Dwelling: Space, Sexuality, and Colonial Modernity in the British West Indies, 1838-1962.” In October 2014, Parsard was researcher in residence at Alice Yard.

On Monday 23 February, at 7 pm, Parsard will give an informal talk at Alice Yard, based on the section of her dissertation on nineteenth-century artist Michel Jean Cazabon. She will examine Cazabon’s body of work in the context of post-emancipation land use and planning, focusing on scenes that contain overgrown plant life, winding paths, and figures that cast gazes beyond the frame. These scenes reframe the nineteenth-century Trinidad landscape as anti-picturesque, a space that challenges control, order, and production.

All are invited.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Passing Presence

Gerard H. Gaskin, Roshini Kempadoo, and Camille Chedda
Tuesday 6 and Thursday 8 January, 2015, at Alice Yard

Alice Yard begins the new year with two events featuring three visiting artists:

On Tuesday 6 January, at 7 pm, Gerard H. Gaskin and Roshini Kempadoo will join Alice Yard co-director Christopher Cozier for a conversation about images, archives, and visual histories, based on their recent work.

And on Thursday 8 January, also at 7 pm, artist in residence Camille Chedda will present her current untitled work in progress, created during her time at Alice Yard, which follows her recent investigations of the disposable and the degradable, temporality and violence.

All are invited.

Work in progress by Camille Chedda

About the artists:

Born in Trinidad and based in the United States, Gerard H. Gaskin earned a BA in Liberal Arts from Hunter College in 1994. As a freelance photographer, his work is widely published in newspapers and magazines in the United States and abroad, including The New York Times, Newsday, Politiken, Black Enterprise, Ebony, and others. Additional clientele are record companies including Island, Sony, Def Jam, and Mercury records. Gaskin’s photographs have also been featured in solo and group exhibitions at Duke University Gallery, Syracuse University Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum, the Queens Museum of Arts, the Goethe-Institute in Accra, Ghana and Imagenes Havana in Cuba, as well as in the 2006 Galvanize programme in Port of Spain. His book Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene (Duke University Press) won the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography.

Roshini Kempadoo is a photographer, media artist, and lecturer at the University of East London. Her research, multimedia, and photographic projects combine factual and fictional re-imaginings of contemporary experiences with history and memory. Having worked as a social documentary photographer for the Format Women’s Picture Agency, Kempadoo’s recent work as a digital image artist includes photographs and screen-based interactive art installations that fictionalise Caribbean archive material, objects, and spaces. They combine sound, animations, and interactive use of objects, to introduce characters that once may have existed, evoking hidden and untold narratives. She is represented by Autograph ABP, London.

Camille Chedda was born in Manchester, Jamaica. She graduated from the Edna Manley College with an Honours Diploma in Painting, and received her MFA in Painting from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Her works have been featured in major exhibitions at the National Gallery of Jamaica, including the 2014 Jamaica Biennial and New Roots (2013). She has also exhibited internationally in Boston, New York, Germany, and China. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Albert Huie Award, the Reed Foundation Scholarship, and the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award for an outstanding contribution to the 2014 Jamaica Biennial 2014. Chedda currently lectures in Painting at the Edna Manley College in Kingston, Jamaica.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Introducing Camille Chedda

Artist in residence, December 2014 and January 2015 

Photo: Maya Cozier

Ebony G. Patterson, in collaboration with Alice Yard, is pleased to support the research and working residency of Jamaican artist Camille Chedda in Trinidad from mid December 2014 to mid January 2015.

Detail of Built-In Obsolescence, currently on show at Alice Yard

Camille Chedda was born in Manchester, Jamaica. She graduated from the Edna Manley College with an Honours Diploma in Painting, and received her MFA in Painting from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Her works have been featured in major exhibitions at the National Gallery of Jamaica, including the 2014 Jamaica Biennial 2014 and New Roots (2013). She has also exhibited internationally in Boston, New York, Germany, and China. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Albert Huie Award, the Reed Foundation Scholarship, and the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award for an outstanding contribution to the 2014 Jamaica Biennial 2014. Chedda currently lectures in Painting at the Edna Manley College in Kingston, Jamaica.

Friday, December 5, 2014

A conversation with Shani Mootoo and Vahni Capildeo

Thursday 18 December, 2014, 7 pm, at Alice Yard

Trinidadian-Canadian writer Shani Mootoo’s most recent novel, Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, was longlisted for the 2014 Giller Prize. Her other books include Cereus Blooms at Night, the Man Booker Prize–longlisted novel of love, repression, and family secrets for which she is perhaps best known.

UK-based Trinidadian Vahni Capildeo’s newest book of poems, Utter, was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2013. She is the author of four other collections of poems, including the OCM Bocas Prize–longlisted Dark and Unaccustomed Words.

On Thursday 18 December, jointly hosted by Paper Based Bookshop and Alice Yard, both writers will read from and discuss their new work in an informal conversation with Shivanee Ramlochan.

All are invited.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014 Alice Yard Prize for Art Writing shortlist

The judges for the 2014 Alice Yard Prize for Art Writing have chosen a shortlist of five writers.

The prize, inaugurated in 2014, is an annual award for an original piece of critical writing on contemporary Caribbean art by a Caribbean writer aged 35 or under. The five finalists, selected from the prize entrants, are:

Katherine Kennedy (Barbados)
Stephen Narain (Bahamas/US)
Brandon O’Brien (Trinidad and Tobago)
Aiko Maya Roudette (St Vincent and the Grenadines/US)
Nicole Smythe-Johnson (Jamaica)

Established by Alice Yard, the prize aims to encourage new writing on Caribbean art and artists, and to identify emerging voices in contemporary Caribbean art criticism. The winner, who will be announced in November 2014, will receive a cash award of US$1,000 and publication in The Caribbean Review of Books.

The 2014 judges for the Alice Yard Prize for Art Writing are:

Krista Thompson (Bahamas/US), chair
Art historian and curator
Associate professor of art history, Northwestern University

Charles Campbell (Jamaica/Canada)
Artist and curator

Courtney J. Martin (US)
Art historian and curator
Assistant professor of the history of art and architecture, Brown University

The Alice Yard Prize for Art Writing is conceived and established by the co-directors of Alice Yard, Sean Leonard, Christopher Cozier, and Nicholas Laughlin, who will administer the prize and support the panel of judges in their deliberations.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Marjorie Le Berre: one-night action

Wednesday 22 October, 2014, 6 to 10 pm, at Alice Yard

Artist Marjorie Le Berre, in dialogue with Alice Yard, invites you to view, for one night only, an installation developed from her collaborative investigations at Maracas Bay.

As suggested by the artist, “Based on the rhythm of the tide and on the ideas of ‘repetition and difference’ of Deleuze,” the project consists of a series of drawings produced over a week in collaboration with fishermen and children at Maracas Bay. The drawings consist of recordings of the movement of the tide, the swell, when the ropes of moored pirogues touch paper placed on the shore, making marks on the paper and in the sand. Local Crown brand blue laundry pigment, which is also used for blue devil performances, was rubbed on the ropes to produce the drawings. The titles reflect the time of day and dates. 

Le Berre is a contemporary artist based in France, and has been visiting Trinidad reconnecting with the site of her childhood memories of living here, contrasting them to her current investigations of the island. She is concerned with nomadism and identity.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yard Work: Notes on Alice Yard

By Courtney J. Martin, curator in residence,
June 2014

Last June, curator and art historian Courtney J. Martin participated in a short residency at Alice Yard. The notes below, reflecting on Alice Yard’s physical and conceptual space, were written following her visit.

In the extended, multi-part conversation with (some subset of) Christopher Cozier, Nicholas Laughlin, and Sean Leonard that defined my recent visit to Alice Yard, I began to think seriously about what the “yard” as a spatial denomination might mean for art practice. Physically, the yard that forms Alice Yard is a concrete area at the rear end of the house that contains both the residency accommodation and a commercial business (currently a natural grocery and café). The yard connects the house with the other spaces in the complex: a music rehearsal studio, a white cube gallery (the “Box”), a platform stage, a raised terrace, and an additional multi-purpose room (the “Annex”). The yard is the thing that one must pass through, wait in, gather around, or peer into in order to make contact with the larger entity of Alice Yard as a cultural space. To parse out the issue of the yard, is not, however, a way of making something out of nothing. I was struck by the use of the word in Port of Spain as both a description of actual space as well as a conceptual ideal. For example, one might step into one’s own yard on a daily basis, but dare let someone else trespass onto that same yard in word, action, or deed, and it becomes another matter altogether, even if no physical breach is made.

Sean Leonard described the yard as a “laboratory” within public space. And I can see where that kind of idea takes shape, as the yard is one of the main components of forming and maintaining a mas band. But this yard, Alice Yard, has a specific function as the ground on which most of the cultural production at the residency occurs. Artists develop, practice, draw, build, and show within the confines of that space, making every single gesture in it a public one; open for engagement and debate. Few other art constructs realise that kind of democratic ideal.  Unfortunately, democracy is an overused word, one that has taken on a kind of pathology of reverence within the art world. The yard is a construction, the unused excess of the built environment met by the re-construction of the natural world. Interiority and ecology meet in the yard, as do order and disorder. One need only look to the millions of hours wasted across the southeastern United States in attempts to abate the kudzu from turning a well-manicured lawn into an overgrown yard. The ubiquity of the term, yard, was striking for me, as its use seemed to hold none of the same class or aesthetic connotations with which I was familiar. For me, this new yard, neither something to admonish, fix, or move away from, was liberating and curious.

That Alice Yard’s actual yard area extends from and into the white box gallery reflects the symbiotic nature of the two. Ideas revealed in the gallery were often conceived in the yard. This is true at Alice Yard, but it also a truism of white cube production generally. The ways in which we exhibit contemporary art as detached from a source within sterilised, often geometric, spaces works to deny the process by which that art got there.

I am not against the white cube. I like order, and it is a standard, a unit of qualitative art architecture. When Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland problematised the white cube nearly forty years ago, he did so with the full understanding of how the stickiness of modernism led to the clinical chamber. The white cube has been not only a standard of exhibition practices, but also a way to equalise objects.  Presumably every object (regardless of media, material, method, or maker) is the same if it finds its way into the white cube. The democracy of our current art world with its fairs, commercial galleries, and biennales, however, shows us that not all white cubes are created equal. To borrow Christopher Cozier’s term, the white cube does nothing if not reflect and refract the “pigmentocracy” of exhibition practices. Even within the neutral space of the squared-off white walls, we as cultural workers have produced (manufactured) variances and difference to distinguish the good from the bad, quality from quantity.

If the white cube is supposed to give us a level playing ground, what might the yard do to complicate its stated equanimity? I am not sure, but I am certain that there is some value in knowing what came before the object. Theoretically, the yard is unlike the “studio”, but it is not dissimilar from the “archive” as a repository of engagement. Like assemblage’s relationship to the street or Florentine sculpture’s direct route to the quarry, the material-conceptual space of an object is important. The yard holds that kind of significance. I am not the first to come to Alice Yard and be struck by the physical space and its generative possibilities, and I certainly will not be the last. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

A conversation with María Elena Ortiz

Thursday 18 September, 2014, 7 pm, at Alice Yard

María Elena Ortiz is a Miami-based Puerto Rican curator and the 2014 recipient of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean. In September 2014, she will spend a week at Alice Yard as researcher in residence. On Thursday 18 September, at 7 pm, she will give an informal talk at Alice Yard on her current curatorial interests.

Her talk will focus on examples of video and performance art practices in contemporary art, and the possible roles of the curator. Video artists discussed will include José “Bubu” Negrón, Christian Jankowski, Isaac Torres, Nuria Montiel, and other artists making works about Caribbean dynamics.

All are invited.

About María Elena Ortiz:

María Elena Ortiz currently works as a curatorial assistant at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Previously, she worked as the curator of contemporary arts at the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in Mexico City, where she organised several projects, including Carlos Motta, The Shape of Freedom (2013), and Rita Ponce de León, David (2013). She has also collaborated with institutions such as TEOR/éTica, San Jose, Costa Rica; Tate Modern, London; the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco; and New Langton Arts, San Francisco, among others. In 2012, she curated Wherever You Roam at the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California. Ortiz has contributed to writing platforms including Fluent Collaborative, Curating Now, and DaWire. She has a Masters in Curatorial Practice from the California College of the Arts (2010).

About the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Travel Award:

The Cisneros Award supports a contemporary art curator based anywhere in the world to travel to Central America and the Caribbean to research art and cultural activities in the region. Ortiz will use the award to visit new and established contemporary art centres, artist initiatives, and film festivals in the Caribbean countries of Aruba, the Bahamas, Martinique, and Trinidad and Tobago. She will conduct interviews with local cultural producers and studio visits with artists to investigate film and video practices with the aim of strengthening the ties between art in the Caribbean and the Diaspora in the local community of Miami, as well as nurturing contemporary approaches to film and video in the region.