Wednesday, September 16, 2015

We are here / we are everywhere


From Actor/Transporter, a performance work by Charles Campbell, part of Alice Yard’s 2011 series ACT 5: The Performative Moment

On 15 September, 2015, Alice Yard marked its ninth anniversary as a space for collaboration and exchange. Over the coming year, as we imagine our way towards our tenth anniversary, the Alice Yard co-directors will issue a series of brief reflections and provocations on some of the key concepts that have occupied us and the members of our network, the enduring questions we keep returning to in our conversations. We welcome responses from our friends, colleagues, and audience.

Tuesday 15 September, the ninth anniversary of Alice Yard’s debut as a public space, was an ordinary day for us, with no planned commemorative event. Two of our three co-directors are away from Trinidad: Christopher Cozier in Miami, at a Cannonball artist’s residency, and Nicholas Laughlin in New York City, at the Brooklyn Book Festival. Meanwhile, founder and third co-director Sean Leonard continues to quietly manage and observe the actions and interactions of our network at Alice Yard and Granderson Lab.

In some ways, this physical dispersal of the Alice Yard co-directors is the apt reflection of a characteristic dynamic. From the beginning, Alice Yard has been a specific, modest location: literally the backyard of a house in Woodbrook, shaped by its urban neighbourhood, open to the life of the street. At the same time, Alice Yard has also been a conceptual space, harder to delimit or define: it is a network of creative and intellectual collaborators, a forum for critical conversation, an experiment about modes of exchange and sharing.

So sometimes we are “here”, sometimes we are not, but all times we are “everywhere”: which is to say that Alice Yard operates wherever there are artists, musicians, writers and others in generous conversation with us. A chart of locations where our network is currently active through exhibitions, projects, performances, residencies, meetings, etc. is a map of almost the whole globe. In merely the past three months or so, those active locations have ranged from Toronto to Havana, Amsterdam to São Paulo, Cambridge to Wellington, Nagoya to Port-au-Prince, and dozens more points in between.

This dynamic of “place” versus “space” is an open question at the core of our evolving understanding. It is a question in contention with the restrictive idea of a “territory” requiring a boundary patrol or a price of admission — an idea inherited from the particular history of the Caribbean. The physical gate to the Alice Yard driveway is open, as is our ongoing conversation about what we are doing and why — as are our hopes that Alice Yard is not another opportunity for asserting territorial claims. Instead we are fascinated by the possibility of a process that defies and supersedes such modes of assertion. We are fascinated by mobility within, across, outside, and returning to a space that is simultaneously here and everywhere.

— SL   CC   NL


Unknown said...

Dear AY associates,

Presented with this opportunity, I wish to reiterate that Alyce Yard for me, is a "splace" - people meet and ideas meet at and through Alice Yard. The open(-ended) approach to dialogue and learning to share is not only rare, but highly cherished. Thanks, and congrats facilitators and collaborators, on AY's 9th birthday!


DArlen said...

To consider the Yard, the Backyard, the Barrackyard all places of sustenance, communalism...all places where tradition is upheld, stories are passed on, uncles and tanties, papa and mamas through performances kept spiritual, social and economic tradition alive. When we look at our cultural space today, our modernity, we owe a lot to the Yard. The yard is an allegorical for family, schooling and community. Alice Yard sits within that conception, Alice as mother, Sean, Nicholas and Chris as sons; papas, uncles, brothers passing on traditions, language, text in a communal way, food, music, art, the oldest way of speaking to communities. Its been a wonderful experience and wish there is more continuity with more explosive and exploratory work in the conception of a new modern family, community through the reconsideration of our political contemporary notions of art and design, text and language...this new activism needs more compelling synergies with our activist.
Congratulations Alice Yard... and the Alice Yard family....