galvanize graphics by bruce cayone

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Galvanize tonight: Sheldon Holder and 12

Sheldon Holder of 12 the band

Saturday 30 September, 2006, 6 pm, at Alice Yard, 80 Roberts Street, Woodbrook: Sheldon Holder of 12 in conversation with Christopher Cozier, followed by a live performance by the band. Free of charge, all are welcome

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Conversation: News That Stays News: Newsprint Literature

bc attillah lisa

B.C. Pires, Attillah Springer, and Lisa Allen-Agostini

Who are the writers grappling most immediately with the state of contemporary Trinidad and Tobago? What forms are they writing in, and for what audience? Are the fragmentary, discontinuous, first-person non-fiction narratives published in the periodical press--i.e., newspaper columns--"literature"? Can the newspaper column be a literary medium? And what are the boundaries between "literature", "journalism", and "activism"?

Columnists B.C. Pires (of the Trinidad Express), Attillah Springer, and Lisa Allen-Agostini (both of the Trinidad Guardian) join Caribbean Review of Books editor Nicholas Laughlin in a discussion of these and similar questions, in the second Galvanize "conversation".

Members of the public are invited to join the discussion.

A "conversation" on News That Stays News: Newsprint Literature will be held on Thursday 28 September, 2006, at 6.30 pm, in the InterAmericas Space at CCA7

Read B.C. Pires's latest column here, Attillah Springer's latest column here, and Lisa Allen-Agostini's latest column here

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Talking about the Visual Arts Environment

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Curator and art historian Courtney Martin and artists Eddie Bowen, Mario Lewis, and Steve Ouditt lead the Galvanize "conversation" on "The Visual Arts Environment: 20 Years After", at CCA7, 21 September, 2006

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Conversation: The Visual Arts Environment: 20 Years After

VAE poster compass and crown

In 1986, artists Edward Bowen and Steve Ouditt, both of whom had studied abroad and returned to Trinidad, founded an experimental independent study programme called the Visual Arts Environment. The main objective of the VAE was to facilitate a series of critical art workshops for young practising Trinidadian artists interested in developing their talents in the areas of contemporary art-making and thinking. It incorporated workshops in design, painting, drawing, and art theory, as well as talks and discussions by artists like Francisco Cabral, Anna Serrao, Christopher Cozier, Irenee Shaw, and Shastri Maharaj.

Based at Bowen's studio in St. Ann's, the VAE was eventually recognised by the University of the West Indies Extra Mural Department. VAE "graduates" included many of the younger generation of contemporary artists now working in Trinidad, such as Dean Arlen, Suzy Deyal, Che Lovelace, Mario Lewis, and the late Illya Furlonge-Walker.

Twenty years after the launch of this pioneering artist-led initiative, Galvanize will bring its founders, Edward Bowen and Steve Ouditt, together with art historian Courtey Martin and VAE "graduate" Mario Lewis to discuss the VAE's career, its impact on Trinidad's contemporary art scene, and its possible legacies and lessons for artists practising in this country today.

Eddie Bowen: "The collaboration sought to pitch the students squarely in a continuous dialogue and continuous meeting with art and design professionals, as well as a neverending pratical in studio...."

Artists and other members of the public are invited to join the discussion.

VAE poster boot and tightrope

The "conversation" on The Visual Arts Environment: Twenty Years After will be held on Thursday 21 September, 2006, at 6.30 pm, in the InterAmericas Space at CCA7

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Visibly Absent 1.1: Charran, Gaskin, Lee Loy

At the core of Galvanize is "Visibly Absent", a series of nine artists' projects. The first three, The Banana Monologues by Sabrina Charran, A Walk in the Park by Gerard Gaskin and Unease: An 8-Step Programme by Jaime Lee Loy, opened on 15 September, 2006.

charran memorial park 2

Sabrina Charran's Banana Monologues includes a series of graffiti posters installed around Port of Spain. Locations include: Keate Street south of Memorial Park; Roberto Street near the intersection with Warren Street; the Lady Young Road lookout. Open 24 hrs.


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Gerard Gaskin's A Walk in the Park is a series of photographs installed at the Tattoo Farm, Long Circular Road. Open Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 8 pm.


unease installation 1

Jaime Lee Loy's Unease: An 8-Step Programme is a video installation at Alice Yard, 80 Roberts Street, Woodbrook. Open Friday 15 September, 5 to 8 pm; Saturday 16 September, 11 am to 6 pm; Friday 22 September, 4 to 8 pm; Saturday 23 September, 11 am to 6 pm.

Read a full schedule of events here. See a map of Galvanize locations here.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Last night

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Mario Lewis and Charlotte Elias at the launch of Galvanize, 14 September, CCA7

Galvanize 2006 had an energetic start last night at CCA7. A crowd of several hundred turned up to meet the artists and see documentation of their work, to watch a series of artists' films, to hear Ataklan perform (joined for one song by surprise guest Sheldon Blackman), and to generally have a good time at the smashing launch party. Everyone took away a neat little leaflet with a schedule of events, map of locations, and bios of everyone involved, unfolding to reveal a Galvanize poster on the reverse.

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Mario Lewis (foreground, at left) introduces seven of the nine artists who are producing work for the Galvanize 2006 "Visibly Absent" series: Jaime Lee Loy, Sabrina Charran, Gerard Gaskin, Nikolai Noel, Tessa Alexander, Parker Nicholas, and Marlon Griffith. Missing: Akuzuru, Alex Smailes

"Visibly Absent" projects by artists Sabrina Charran, Gerard Gaskin and Jaime Lee Loy open today--see the full schedule of events for more information on locations and times.

[See photos of the Galvanize 2006 launch event in the Galvanize 2006 Flickr set and at]

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Galvanize launch

The six-week Galvanize 2006 programme launches with a party on Thursday 14 September at 7 pm, at CCA7. All are invited. Rapso artist Mark "Ataklan" Jiminez will perform; a series of short artists' films will be screened; the nine Galvanize artists will be present; and information about the entire Galvanize programme will be available.


Ataklan, photographed by Gerard Gaskin

Limited edition Galvanize t-shirts featuring a design by Bruce Cayone will be on sale. Several artists based at CCA7 will host open studios. DJs Ecstasy and Franco will supplement Ataklan's live performance.

For the duration of Galvanize, CCA7 will house a documentation centre, showing the evolution of all nine artists' projects and the response of their audiences.

For more information, contact CCA7 at 625-1889 or 625-6805

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Where: a Galvanize map

Galvanize Map

Locations for all main Galvanize events. See the schedule of events.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Visibly Absent: Back in Times, by Alex Smailes

At the core of Galvanize is "Visibly Absent", a series of nine artists' projects. This is the seventh in a series of notes on each artist and his or her project.

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From Alex Smailes's Back in Times series

Bio: Alex Smailes has worked as a photojournalist in Haiti, the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, among other places, and his images, the London Times, Le Figaro, Geographical, and Colors. Since 2001 he has been based in Port of Spain. His book Trinidad and Tobago: Carnival Land Water People was published in 2006.

Statement on Back in Times: You see them on the highway. You see them stuck to the lamp-posts as you wait in town traffic. They are bright hand-written signs with very kitsch colour combinations, illegally posted and advertising a "back in times" ball, or old-time dance. But how many of us actually read them, or go and see what they are all about? With dwindling patrons and few newcomers, this cultural project may very well be the last dance.

If you drive past the SWWTU Hall on Wrightson Road, the original dockworkers' social hall, on certain Saturday nights you may catch a glimpse of a lady and her friends easing out of a taxi. They may have tiaras, veils, or just simple red ribbons adorning their immaculate hair. The gentlemen waiting for their dates might be donning three-piece suits, purple velvet two-pieces, or at least silk shirts. Their shoes will be gleaming, along with their gold or silver chains. Balloons decorate the entrance, usually in the colour theme of the evening, giving a hint of what is the expected attire for entrance. These are "colour" balls, and to dress to impress is the idea. Lady in red, purple passion, evergreen, snow white, pretty in pink--to name a few. They have been going on for decades.

I spent about two years documenting and taking portraits of the patrons. Those first few contact sheets, something magic struck me about these people: unabashed, posing, and staring back. I continued to visit as often as possible. I soon started charging small change for the Polaroid to weed out the masses--but if I saw a choice person I would offer to shoot them for free. I soon had regular clients and made good friends. They remind me of family snaps taken at Christmas, a wedding, or a graduation.

I used an old fashioned 6x7 Bronica camera on a tripod and two studio flashes. I made a big deal of setting up, very slowly, setting off lots of flashes to attracted people over. It had the desired effect. Almost too good. I soon had a queue, and after the word got around that someone was giving away free pictures it turned into a bustling crowd. A light was nearly kicked over by a large woman. Others would pretend I didn't exist, and just walk straight past even when I was shooting.

My early influences were the likes of Julia Margaret Cameron, from the early 19th century, who was better known for creating dramatic scenes from literature or religion, but would also often place her subjects in front of a plain dark cloth and let the subjects speak for themselves. Or the early photographers of the midwestern US, photographing regal Indian chefs. Another great inspiration was Seydou Keita, the studio photographer from Mali, whose work between the 1940s and 60s, only recently come to light, is an amazing documentation of society.

In my own sphere of work, being commissioned by Colors magazine to cover stories in the Caribbean, I had to follow their guidelines and style of shooting ordinary people in ordinary places doing ordinary things. And also shoot them in a front-on, plain style. All of this led me to use the plain white walls of SWWTU as my backdrop. The subjects' clothes and own individualistic style would speak for themselves. The poses are their own--I didn't direct them in any manner. Often a single prop would appear in the background, like a empty Carib bottle or even a light cable. I didn't really move anything.

Back in Times will run from 13 to 26 October, 2006, at the SWWTU Hall, Wrightson Road.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Working on documentation

working on leaflet

Working on the Galvanize information leaflet. From left: Nicholas Laughlin, designer Jerome Harrylal, Christopher Cozier. Photo by Mario Lewis

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Visibly Absent: Banana Monologues, by Sabrina Charran

At the core of Galvanize is "Visibly Absent", a series of nine artists' projects. This is the sixth in a series of notes on each artist and his or her project.

sabrina charran banana monologues

From Sabrina Charran's Banana Monologues--work in progress

Bio: Sabrina Charran recently graduated from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. She has a keen interest in drawing, in graphic design, and in architecture, as well as psychoanalysis, human geography, and urbanism. Charran placed first and was awarded the prize for most outstanding art student in the Women in Art Biennial Art Competition. She was awarded UWI's Leroy Clarke Trophy for Excellence in Art in 2002 and the Eastman-Christensen Visual Arts Award for Excellence in 2005.

Banana Monologues: This project is a body of work comprising installation, posters, and photography. Through a combination of graphic illustrations, found objects, and Polaroid pictures, it develops a narrative based on neurotic bananas speaking up from a capitalist "bananaist" standpoint against their oppressor -- the artist. The subjects, the bananas, voice their opinions about their subjection to the artist's still-life paintings and their exploitation in the local art market. In their protests, some bananas are depicted with expiry dates; others claim that "the artist is the enemy". It is a satirical work which aims to appeal to a general audience.

Banana Monologues will run from 15 to 27 September, 2006, at various locations in and around Port of Spain.

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sound & Lyrics: "Naked As You Born": Sheldon Holder and 12

The core of Galvanize 2006 is "Visibly Absent", a series of nine visual artists' projects, but the programme also includes performances by and conversations with musicians, writers, and architects.

Sheldon Holder of 12 the band. Photo by Alex Smailes

On 30 September, Sheldon Holder, musician, songwriter, and frontman of 12 the band, will have a public conversation with artist Christopher Cozier. Their informal, freeform dialogue may cover, among other things, the current local music scene, the evolution of 12's "eclectic soul" sound, Holder's musical influences, and Holder and Cozier's past collaborations, followed by a free performance by the full band.

Read Georgia Popplewell's short profile of 12 in the March/April 2006 issue of Caribbean Beat. Listen to Popplewell's interview with Holder at Caribbean Free Radio (posted 27 May, 2005).

Naked As You Born: Sheldon Holder and 12 will take place at 6 pm on Saturday 30 September, 2006, at Alice Yard, 80 Roberts Street, Woodbrook.

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Visibly Absent: Atonement for Our Transgressions, by Akuzuru

At the core of Galvanize is "Visibly Absent", a series of nine artists' projects. This is the fifth in a series of notes on each artist and his or her project.

akuzuru installation

Part of artist Akuzuru's sculptural installation Tapia/Flood II at CCA7 in 2005. Photo by Aldwin Sin Pang

Bio: Akuzuru was born in Trinidad and studied fashion and textile design in London and Zaria, Nigeria. She has had nine solo exhibitions in Trinidad and Tobago, the UK, Nigeria, and South Africa; most recently, Tapia/Flood II, a large sculptural installation work at two sites, one indoors and one outdoors, in Port of Spain. She has also participated in many group shows. She was an artist-in-residence at the Bag Factory in Johannesburg in 2002 and at the Braziers International Artists' Workshop in Oxfordshire in 2004. She currently lives and works in Trinidad.

Statement: My practice as an inter-disciplinary artist is a multi-dimensional venture. The surrounding natural environment forms part of my concerns with space and its multi-sociological effects on the human-phenomena, thereby transcending this concept onto the universal platform. This deals with human encroachment on a natural bio-topography and how this has affected and effected the evolvement of the environment in which we live.

Over a twenty-year period, my explorations have tethered on the brink and beyond the stringent confines of the regimentation of conventional "fine art". The work itself is non-compartmentalised. It is neither conceptual nor representational, sculptural nor painting, drawing nor dance nor sound. It is a convergence of all of these and none.

For the past few years, I have been building a series of architectural structures which have their foundations in "primordial" village dwellings of ancient nations and cultures. By situating these structures and other organic forms in the contemporary urban setting, I seek to reconnect and reintroduce the natural environment to humanity's consciousness.

Atonement for Our Transgressions: I seek to bring the inside out. That is to say, for a de-spirited people this work will serve as a third eye to aid in that reconnecting to self. Nature informs this premise, as it has always informed my practice.

I would like to continue the venture of connecting the interior space of a building to the natural environment. This is about space reclaiming its space, turning a building inside out. It is literally a changing of one's skin, one's house. An architectonic element persists here, as I want to engage an interiority which is seldom exposed. This elusive interiority will be exposed through my continual investigations into the "clothesline" aesthetic. The installation will be a large intimidating form or a series of forms to be hung on a "clothesline" in the natural environment.

Atonement for Our Trangressions will run from 29 September to 11 October, 2006, at a location in Port of Spain which will be announced shortly.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Visibly Absent: Progressive Blindness, by Tessa Alexander

At the core of Galvanize is "Visibly Absent", a series of nine artists' projects. This is the fourth in a series of notes on each artist and his or her project.

alexander work in progress

From Tessa Alexander's Progressive Blindness--work in progress

Bio: Tessa Alexander is an artist and teacher who currently works as the children's art programme coordinator at Caribbean Contemporary Arts (CCA). She has been an artist in residence at the Sanskriti Kendra in New Delhi. She has shown her work in several solo exhibitions in Trinidad.

Statement: My goal is to create work that appeals to the viewer in an emotional, almost spiritual way, by reconnecting them with elements of humanity that are taken for granted. I have a great interest in cultural anthropology, and my work reflects this. I aim to show our interconnection with each other and with our various environments.

With my background in fabric design, my "paintings", although watercolours, utilise many ways of producing texture by layering various types of paper, decorative elements, and using many gel mediums on my work surface before applying colour, resulting in work with an almost three-dimensional feel and very rich tones not usually associated with my chosen medium; but at the same time not loosing the spontaneity and watery dreamlike feeling.

Progressive Blindness: My installation is based on the recent saturation of visual imagery and marketing extravagance by the mobile phone companies bMobile and Digicel in the Trinidad and Tobago market. Although this type of marketing is global and "progressive", it is the first time that such aggressive marketing and branding have been used in this country.

This installation will feature:
- a video of sites around Trinidad with billboards and cell towers painted on the wall and obstructing the view, signifying the progressive landscape, as well as interviews with people on the street being asked set questions. This video will be played repeatedly as viewers walk into a room that has shredded green and red fabric piled in a heap, with merchandise give-aways signifying a materialistic, wasteful modern-day altar.
- collages made using the imagery in the ads and lettering, adding my own imagery to give the ads new meanings.
- large-scale mixed-media paintings on ply board using the mobile companies' billboard imagery and signage as a starting point to create my own advertising billboards.

The installation is not against technology, but rather aims to open up discussion about superficial marketing and the money used to create illusions of progress amid disempowerment, versus socially responsible marketing (which I feel is "visibly absent") that could actually bring about positive change and therefore real progress.

Progressive Blindness will run from 29 September to 11 October, 2006, at Eddie Bowen's studio, 25 Sydenham Avenue, St Ann's.

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