Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Celia Weiss Bambara: work-in-progress

Thursday 25 March, 2010, at 8.00 pm

Celia Weiss Bambara is an American dancer, choreographer, and scholar, and artist in residence with the Makeda Thomas/Roots and Wings Movement Dance and Performance Institute. During the final phase of her residency, she has been living and working at Alice Yard.

On Thursday 25 March, at 8.00 pm, Weiss Bambara will perform a new site-specific work-in-progress at Alice Yard. She writes:

“Choreographic and improvisational ideas have a way of growing, shifting, and changing. I had originally intended to present a new improvisation at Alice Yard and discuss a bit about some of current working methods. Two things altered this improvisational path.

“Firstly, upon arriving at Alice Yard, I became entranced with the contours of the space and energies at work in the nooks and joints in between structures. Each one of these spaces seems to have a set of layered histories, and I began contemplating a site-specific work that would engage these spatial dynamics and energies.

“Secondly, I was confronted with the actuality of daily violence in Trinidad, and realised that I needed to process my reactions through my own corporeality and movement. In the US, I had been working on a set of ideas for a new piece, which addresses the cyclical and intergenerational nature of violence. Some of the questions that I have been asking are: How does grand-scale violence precipitate daily violence? How do we stop cycles of violence on our bodies? Can we find a moment of non-violence amidst daily violences?

“Research that correlates these ideas, experiences, and space will be shown as work-in-progress at Alice Yard. Aiybobo!”

All are invited.

About the artist:

Celia Weiss Bambara is co-artistic director of the CCBdance Project, an African-based contemporary dance company formed in 2006 with Burkina Faso-born Christian Bambara. She has danced for JAKA in Port-au-Prince and Martin Dancers in Los Angeles, among others. Between the late 1990s and 2003, Weiss Bambara worked with artists in Port-au-Prince on projects that combined Haitian, modern/contemporary, and other African diasporic dance forms. Her choreography and the work of the CCBdance Project have also been shown in Los Angeles, Chicago, Iowa, Michigan, Cuba, and Jamaica. She holds a PhD in dance history and theory/critical dance studies from the University of California, Riverside, and is currently a visiting lecturer at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Richard Rawlins: Alice Bangi

alice bangi sketch

Richard Rawlins's design sketches for the Alice Bangi

Visiting Suriname at the end of February for the Paramaribo SPAN exhibition, Alice Yard collaborator Richard Rawlins was inspired by artist Roberto Tjon A Meeuw's Fatu Bangi project.

A fatu bangi is a traditional item of outdoor furniture often found on roadsides in rural Suriname. "Bangi" is the Sranan word for bench, and "fatu" means big, but also refers to an informal gathering of friends, a lime. Often made from scrap wood, the fatu bangi is a big bench for liming--a spot to sit and observe the world go by, share stories and ideas.

On his return to Trinidad, Richard set about his own bangi project at Alice Yard. He writes this note:

“Wow,” I said to Sean Leonard, chief architect of Alice Yard. “I want one.” That desire and inspiration would basically see me through the fourteen-hour residency project of building Trinidad and Tobago’s first ever fatu bangi with my partner Mariel Brown.

My recent trip to Suriname left me buzzing with an incredible amount of ideas and creative energy. My first fatu bangi experience in Suriname was the work of artist Roberto Tjon A Meeuw outside the DSB Bank in Paramaribo, and later his other humungous creation inside the bank’s compound.

I’ve called my interpretation Alice Bangi, after the yard of course. The Alice Bangi actually breaks into two sections, to facilitate easy movement of the piece as it traverses round the yard. It also allows for additional back rests to be created from time to time.

This Alice Bangi is meant to be a major participant in the life of the yard.

alice bangi

alice bangi

alice bangi

fatu 1

fatu 4

Richard Rawlins, Mariel Brown, and Sean Leonard, working on the Alice Bangi, Saturday 13 March, 2010. Photos by Christopher Cozier

The final touches on the Alice Bangi, which will take place over time, are 3x3-inch stencils recording every major occasion, show, or artist's project that passes through the yard. The first stencils record initiatives like free+three, Erotic Art Week, 12 the Band, INDIgroove TV, Draconian Switch, Jemima Charles's Cones project, and others.

sean on the alice bangi

alice bangi stencils

Above: Sean Leonard relaxing on the completed Alice Bangi. Below: stencils on the seat of the Bangi record recent events and projects at Alice Yard. Photos by Richard Rawlins

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

12 at Real Art Ways

12 the Band's 2009 album Streets and Avenues; packaging designed by Marlon Darbeau

12 the Band, led by Sheldon Holder, will perform at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Connecticut, on Thursday 18 March, from 6 pm. This event is associated with Rockstone and Bootheel: Contemporary West Indian Art, an exhibition which opened in November 2009. (Rockstone and Bootheel includes projects by several artists associated with Alice Yard, including Christopher Cozier, Marlon Griffith, Jaime Lee Loy, Wendell McShine, Sheena Rose, and Dave Williams. In addition, Richard Rawlins of Draconian Switch has designed and produced a series of Rockstone e-catalogues, and filmmaker Mariel Brown's documentary The Solitary Alchemist was included in the exhibition's film series.)

12's US tour also includes several performances in New York. For a schedule, see the band's website. 12 has been based at Alice Yard since September 2006, and Holder has been a key instigator of many events and activities in this space.

Founded in 1975, Real Art Ways is "an alternative multidisciplinary arts organization that presents and supports contemporary artists and their work, facilitates the creation of new work, and creatively engages, builds, and informs audiences and communities." Jamaican artist Kristina Newman-Scott is RAW's director of visual arts, and co-curator with Yona Backer of Rockstone and Bootheel.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Alice Yard team in Suriname

alice yard crew

Sean Leonard, Christopher Cozier, Nicholas Laughlin, and Richard Rawlins of Alice Yard at the Moiwana Monument, Marowijne, Suriname; 28 February, 2010. Photo by Jurgen Lisse

Four members of the Alice Yard team recently spent a week in Suriname, participating in activities around the Paramaribo SPAN project, a conversation about contemporary art in Suriname. SPAN includes three platforms: an exhibition, which opened on Friday 26 February, 2010, and runs until 14 March; a book published in three language editions; and a blog which is both a journal and an archive.

Alice Yard co-instigators Christopher Cozier and Nicholas Laughlin are, respectively, co-curator of the SPAN project and editor of the SPAN blog. Visiting Paramaribo for the opening events of the SPAN exhibition, they were accompanied by Alice Yard founder Sean Leonard and partner Richard Rawlins, the publisher of Draconian Switch.

Paramaribo SPAN is conceived in part as a bridge connecting artists and other creative practitioners in Suriname with their contemporaries elsewhere in the Caribbean. This trip offered many formal and informal opportunities for the Alice Yard team to explore common ideas, interests, and goals, and begin planning future collaborations. Apart from the SPAN exhibition opening and other events in Paramaribo, the Alice Yard team visited the town of Moengo, east of Paramaribo, where artist Marcel Pinas has founded an art park and art education centre. Sean spent two days in Moengo investigating Marcel's project, and conceptualising ways for himself as an architect and Alice Yard as an institution to support and collaborate with Marcel's Kibii Foundation.

Other Alice Yard team members engaged creatively with the SPAN project in different ways. Nicholas, who is also co-editor of the literary magazine Town, published a special issue coinciding with SPAN, and Richard has collected material for an upcoming SPAN issue of Draconian Switch. And Alice Yard has started conversations about hosting Surinamese artists in Trinidad as part of our modest residency programme.