galvanize graphics by bruce cayone


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.

5 Comments:

Anonymous joanne Johnson said...

Bravo! Even in concept alone - Art increases a sense of purpose and real life participation. I for one have sent letters to telecommunications execs on the topic. I resent the slick ads that try so hard to brainwash me into aligning with the hip cultural elite so that I forget how dissatisfied I am and how much what I earn goes towards paying for all this painful pleasure. This marketing battle is an amplified extension of our families collective skeletons and pink elephants. The more elaborate the window dressing the more STUFF in the back room. I resent receiving envelopes with glossy discount vouchers for luxury products I neither want nor can afford. I would prefer the money that is being squandered to be invested in improving the quality of the actual products and services we consume - and this applies to every business and industry. While it is easy to target the 'outsider' Digicel I am consumer-glad for the possibilty of healthy competition in the market place. I also wish the long list of artists cashing in on TSTT's spending spree would apply as much vigour towards educating and galvanising our people to claim and exercise our right for a national life with meaning. (I thought to say "lucky them", but really it's more accurate to say , "you're welcome" - part of what they're earning is what I paid up after all) One inner voice at a time, POWER , FREEDOM all things just and true are claimed, not assigned. Why wasn't this money used in a genuine way before Digicel showed up? I for one would be willing to make personal sacrifices to participate in wisely targeted public boycotts. It is where we can exercise our economic power. Many of us already employ individual discretion in this, spending in certain directions and not in others. We can effectively and collectively use our money to support a soulful way of life. Would not a public exercise of this render our marching, talking, exhibiting, performing, publishing, creating more effective? Look at what kidnapping has done to bring crime into the limelight! When we were being raped, beaten, victmised and murdered it did not affect the country's public or private pocket book. Sad losses of course to tut-tut and shush over. With kidnapping, the big man is fair game too - so at least in the criminal's world now every one does have an equal albeit tragic place. AND don't talk for the visual polution in general! Everything from bulbous billboards to architectural autism abounds. Where are the beautiful spaces - beauty for beauty's sake, public art for Art's sake. EVERYTHING and Everyone is being used for a higher purpose -all suffering leads to opportunities for Love. With a conscious intention and willingness to participate old, out grown ideas fall away:
TIME IS ART, ART IS HEART.....from one bridge builder to another, brick by brick.

"One one does full basket"

10:33 AM, September 11, 2006  
Anonymous Derren said...

Sounds fascinating...definitely provocative...

As a non-resident trini, the use of galvanize as an icon or metaphor for the trini landscape and experience resonates deeply within me. If I understand you correctly, you are dovetailing the marketing blitz aka cellphone war onto this, as reflection of the superficial if not illusory nature of our so-called progress? I like that too!

This really makes me reflect on the meaning of progress full stop. Material accumulation without inner social and spiritual transformation is the truest masquerade...dat is carnival...we playing mas without even realising it dread. But maybe all things in time? Like how my little son enjoys pretending to a big man? As a nation we are still in the early phases....half-made nation?

Thanks for the opportunity to reflect.

Hopefully at some point in time, I'll be in Trini while you have an exhibition on so I can experience it first hand. Keep up the good work Miss.

Blessings,
Derren

8:00 AM, September 12, 2006  
Blogger marcus che said...

Progressive blindness!!! What an apt term to describe the scaring of Trinidad and Tobago's environmental and moral landscape by global telecoms giants as they fight their 'cellphone wars' across the Caribbean and beyond.
The progress being purely material, whilst freebies and trinkets blind us to the 'collateral damage' (as bush and blair would say) that ultimately accompanies such aggressive marketing.
Even the once noble and unifying force of our Caribbean cricket has suffered from their carpet-bombing. As a desensitised public now accepts that loyalty and effort are no longer based upon honour and the strength of relationships but commodities that belong to the highest bidder.
well done for questioning where the bandwagon is taking us to.

4:32 PM, September 12, 2006  
Blogger marcus che said...

Progressive blindness!!! What an apt term to describe the scaring of Trinidad and Tobago's environmental and moral landscape by global telecoms giants as they fight their 'cellphone wars' across the Caribbean and beyond.
The progress being purely material, whilst freebies and trinkets blind us to the 'collateral damage' (as bush and blair would say) that ultimately accompanies such aggressive marketing.
Even the once noble and unifying force of our Caribbean cricket has suffered from their carpet-bombing. As a desensitised public now accepts that loyalty and effort are no longer based upon honour and the strength of relationships but commodities that belong to the highest bidder.
well done for questioning where the bandwagon is taking us to.

4:32 PM, September 12, 2006  
Blogger Jaime Lee Loy said...

Tessa,

yes i finally got around to writing this. Congratulations. You have shown that you are capable of a range of work. The conceptual aspect of your work combined with your ability as an artist makes this work strong. It is a bold social statement that would really work well outdoors. I hope eventually somehow the work makes it to the public sphere and on some wall OUTSIDE. And bolt it down so no one can get to it. We have already seen how people are made uneasy by this type of expression through some of the projects and the ways in which they were vandalised. Uneasy is good. It means they are hearing you. Keep on! - Jaime Lee Loy

7:24 PM, October 10, 2006  

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