Tag Archives: Transnationalism

Sustainable Art Communities: Creativity and Policy in the Transnational Caribbean

Marlon Griffith, 2012, Kawa no ji, japanese washi, dimensions variable, installed at Mino, Gifu, Japan.

Marlon Griffith, 2012, Kawa no ji, japanese washi, dimensions variable, installed at Mino, Gifu, Japan.

‘Sustainable Art Communities: Creativity and Policy in the Transnational Caribbean’ explores how the understanding and formation of sustainable community for the Caribbean and its global diaspora may be supported by art practice, curating and museums. It fosters networks of exchange and collaboration among academics, artists, curators and policymakers from the UK and the Netherlands, as well as various countries in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean and their diasporas.

The second conference in this series will be held this week (3-4th December 2013) at InIVA, London – to see the full conference programme click here

Confirmed speakers include:
Alessio Antoniolli (UK), Marielle Barrow (Trinidad),
Charles Campbell (Jamaica/UK), Annalee Davis (Barbados),
Joy Gregory (UK), Therese Hadchity (Barbados),
Glenda Heyliger (Aruba), Rosemarijn Hoefte (Netherlands),
Yudhishthir Raj Isar (France/India), Tessa Jackson (UK),
Nancy Jouwe (Netherlands), Charl Landvreugd (Netherlands),
Wayne Modest (Netherlands),
Petrona Morrison (Jamaica), Jynell Osborne (Guyana),
Marcel Pinas (Suriname),
Dhiradj Ramsamoedj (Suriname), Leon Wainwright (UK), and Kitty Zijlmans (Netherlands)

Sustainable Art Communities is a two-year international research project led by Dr Leon Wainwright (The Open University, UK), with Co-Investigator Professor Dr Kitty Zijlmans (Leiden University), funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC, UK), in partnership with the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam and Iniva, the Institute of International Visual Arts, London.

The First Conference in this series was held earlier this year (5-6th  February 2013) at the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam.

Speakers included:

Petrina Dacres (Jamaica), Marlon Griffith (Japan/Trinidad), Rosemarijn Höfte (Netherlands), Tessa Jackson (UK), Erica James (US/Bahamas), Roshini Kempadoo (UK), Tirzo Martha (Curaçao), Wayne Modest (Netherlands), Nicholas Morris (Germany/Jamaica), Alex van Stipriaan (Netherlands), Leon Wainwright (UK) and Kitty Zijlmans (Netherlands).

Marlon Griffith, Location and Actions, Panel 4 Paper 2, 5 February 2013, Tropenmuseum

Marlon Griffith, Location and Actions, Panel 4 Paper 2, 5 February 2013, Tropenmuseum

Video footage of the conference is now available online at the Open Arts Archive.

To find out more about the project, the theme underpinning it and the resources generated from it click here.

Frederick Douglass Heritage Plaque

Many thanks to Hannah Rose Murray for passing on this information:

Abolitionist-Frederick-DouglassFrederick Douglass, famed abolitionist and former African American slave, is well known in the United States for his work as a social activist. His travels in Britain however, are often neglected on both sides of the Atlantic, but the Nubian Jak Community Organisation hopes to change this. Created by Jak Beula, this non-profit organisation has installed numerous heritage plaques to African Americans and Black Britons, including Malcolm X and John Archer (among others). On the 20th February, a plaque to Frederick Douglass will be unveiled in Kensington, at the former home of British abolitionist George Thompson. (Whilst lecturing in London, Douglass stayed at Thompson’s house.)

Born a slave in 1818, Frederick Douglass grew up on a plantation in Maryland. He escaped slavery in 1838, and attracted the attention of William Lloyd Garrison, who recognised Douglass’s talent for oratory. Douglass travelled here in 1845 for nineteen months, creating a sensation across the country.

The heritage plaque is supported by the U.S. Embassy, who will be there on the 20th, as will NBC news. Local school children have also become involved in the project, and some of their work will be displayed in the Embassy.

To find out more information about how you can support the Nubian Jak organization and the Frederick Douglass heritage plaque project please visit: http://www.sponsume.com/project/nubian-jak-heritage-plaque-scheme-fd

You can follow “Nubian Jak Projects” on Facebook or on Twitter: @nubianjak

Frederick Douglass in Britain: Online Teaching Resource

Frederick Douglass, c1847-52

Many thanks to postgraduate researcher Hannah-Rose Murray (MA Public History at Royal Holloway) for passing on this information about her research focused on Frederick Douglass’ time in Britain and the associated teaching resource that she has produced:

How many people in Britain have heard of Frederick Douglass? He is probably one of the most famous African Americans in the United States, but his sojourn in Britain has been largely forgotten on both sides of the Atlantic.

Born a slave in Maryland, he escaped and travelled to Britain between 1845-7, urging the British people to campaign against American slavery. Douglass created a sensation, and his experiences in this country deserve to be recognised. He was able to sharpen his powerful skills as an orator, and he established long-term friendships with British abolitionists, who supported him throughout his career as a social activist.

I first became aware of Douglass at University (2008). I read a speech by him, titled “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” This was a merciless attack on America’s concept of ‘liberty’, and I’ve been hooked ever since! For a Masters project, I created several teaching resources focusing on Douglass’s trip to Britain, and created a website – https://sites.google.com/site/frederickdouglassinbritain/

While I was researching Douglass, it became clear there was something missing – an analysis of the impact Douglass had on Britain. We can test this by reading contemporary newspapers, as they offer opinions on American slavery in general and on Douglass himself. Through this, we can understand how and why Douglass was so successful in Britain, particularly on a grassroots level. There are some great debates within the newspapers about slavery, and how far Britain should interfere, so it’s a great study of relations between the UK and the United States too.

This period of history is fascinating, and some of the controversies Douglass became involved in show that the issue of slavery was not confined to the American shore. For all of these reasons, I’m keen to spread the word about Frederick Douglass and his important trip here, to a British and an American audience!

A blue plaque to Frederick Douglass is currently being organised, with the tribute ceremony on 20February at Whitehead’s Grove, South Kensington. Currently, more donations are needed, so if you would like to make a contribution or find out more about the plaque, follow this link – http://www.nubianjak.com/default.aspx

The Brown Atlantic: Re-thinking Post-Slavery

Lai Fong, The Coolie Ship Avon Under Full Sail, c.1898

Lai Fong, The Coolie Ship Avon Under Full Sail, c.1898
The above ship carried South Asian indentured labourers across the Atlantic to replace the post-Slavery workforce.

The phenomenon of Indenture, which is addressed in the new concept of the Brown Atlantic, is introduced in the first essay in a series of three.  Entitled, ‘The Brown Atlantic: Re-thinking Post-Slavery’, Devi Hardeen’s study will present the interconnection of the Black and Brown Atlantic.

“Following a recent workshop, ‘The French Atlantic: A “Tricoloured” Ocean’, held at the International Slavery Museum (ISM), Liverpool, I was kindly invited to contribute to this ‘Black Atlantic Resource Debate’. One of the rationales of the inter-institutional project at the ISM was to develop greater recognition of Liverpool’s post-Slavery trading past. It is little known that four years after Emancipation, the first ships for South Asian Atlantic Indenture would embark from the city’s ports. The possibility of a site to reflect Liverpool’s continuing post-Slavery role was raised at the workshop. It was discussed that such a site would reflect the historical nexus between the metropole and the country of origin, India, in the legacies of Slavery. In Benjamin Disraeli’s ‘jewel in the crown’, a memorial plaque in Kolkata was inaugurated in January 2011 to commemorate Indenture. The site of museums as an interface between research, academia, and the public that can inform of the events and processes of Atlantic Slavery and its aftermath, led to positive discussions.

“Writing for this website, visitors will note that two years ago, again in partnership with National Museums Liverpool, seminars were held on the subject of ‘Re-thinking Post-slavery [sic] in the Francophone Caribbean’. Addressing that theme, within the scope of this essay, three main arguments will be attempted. In a three-fold approach, this essay will firstly introduce the new concept of the tri-partite ‘Brown Atlantic’. Thereafter, the first dimension of the concept, ‘Past’ will map the phenomenon of South Asian Atlantic Indenture. Thirdly, from this arena, study will focus on the Francophone and Creolophone mid-Atlantic island of Martinique. It will be discussed how we might ‘re-think post-Slavery’ by evaluating the impact of the Brown Atlantic, and by examining possible future avenues of exploration in the post-Slavery Atlantic world. “

To read Devi Hardeen’s article ‘The Brown Atlantic”Re-thinking Post-Slavery” in full click here.

Migrations: Journeys through British Art

There is just over a month left to see this great exhibition currently on at Tate Britain. Migrations: Journeys through British Art:

“explores British art through the theme of migration from 1500 to the present day, reflecting the remit of Tate Britain Collection displays. From the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Flemish and Dutch landscape and still-life painters who came to Britain in search of new patrons, through moments of political and religious unrest, to Britain’s current position within the global landscape, the exhibition reveals how British art has been fundamentally shaped by successive waves of migration. Cutting a swathe through 500 years of history, and tracing not only the movement of artists but also the circulation of visual languages and ideas, this exhibition includes works by artists from LelyKneller,Kauffman to SargentEpsteinMondrianBombergBowling and the Black Audio Film Collective as well as recent work by contemporary artists”

There are also a number of events related to this exhibition upcoming. The first is one tonight:

25 June 2012 from 6.30 – 8.30pm: Personal Journeys: Bonnie Greer on Migrations: “Join playwright and critic Bonnie Greer on a personal journey through the exhibition, as she talks about what migration means to her.”

while in two weeks time:

11 July 2012 from 6.30 -8.30pm Artist Talk: David Medalla: “Born in the Philippines and based in Britain since the Sixties artist David Medalla describes himself as a citizen of the world. His work does not come from one single cultural perspective but draws from his constant travelling, inspired by the places and the people he meets. In this talk Medalla speaks about his practice spanning painting, sculpture, installation and performance, and shares his thoughts on the theme of Migration in art.”

Euromight.com – Online Resource

We are pleased to present a new online resource: Euromight.com which: “…celebrates Europe’s citizens/residents who share African
heritage, telling their stories, discussing their concerns and marking
the events that are important to their everyday lives.
We report original stories from a wide network of contributors across
the EU and curate content which focuses on the Afro-European
experience. We are mindful of our role as educators in this process
since much of the content we produce is not readily available in
Europe and beyond.”

As such Euromight.com has recently been selected by the British Library as a site of importance which will take part in their UK Web Archives project. This project will preserve selected sites for permanent use in the future and seeks to conserve websites that publish research,  that reflect the diversity of lives, interests and activities  throughout the UK, and demonstrate web innovation.

Some recent exclusive stories on Euromight.com have included:

CONFRONTING INEQUALITY IN GREECE -

http://www.euromight.com/greeceinequality.php

BLACKS IN NORTHERN IRELAND FIND THEIR VOICE -
http://www.euromight.com/afroirish.php

FRENCH ACTIVIST TACKLES RACISM – http://www.euromight.com/rokhayadiallo.php

Thanks to Olive Vassell – founder and managing editor of Euromight.com – for passing on the information about this great resource.

Ole Time Carnival in Trinidad

This week’s video feature is a series of three clips called Ole Time Carnival, 1959.

The colour footage is accompanied by the somewhat suspect ‘Ole time’ ‘authoritative’ voice of the ethnographer-journalist akin to that heard over the posthumously completed documentary footage of Maya Deren’s Divine Horsemen: the Living Gods of Haiti which similarly ends with a look at Haitian carnival from 1947-1951.

Part one opens with a trio of devilish looking masks grinning out at us who give way to footage of preparations for carnival in 1950s Trinidad – we are told that participants delve into the archives to research their annual creations inspired by cultures, histories and more recent characters as disparate as the Ancient Egyptians, Ivan the Terrible of Russia and Charlie Chaplin.  Contemporary political comment too is visible not least through a large group of participants dressed as a “complete naval taskforce U.S. style” pointing guns at the crowd or hobbling around in drunken groups – the commentator prefers to see this as part of a “theatre of much-happiness” rather than a biting satire on U.S. Imperialism.

Throughout the wealth of costumes and performances shown also present the endless interweaving of histories that Trinidad and the Caribbean region as a whole embodies. Characters and dress inspired by African, European, Asian and (Native) American cultures remind us of historical migrations – forced and otherwise – the cultural clashes, and commodity flows of the transatlantic slave trade and indentured eras of the Atlantic World.  The at times problematic commentary reminds us of the discursive legacies of these systems, while the fluidity of their inter-mingling in the crowd anticipate the continuation of movements across the globe into our contemporary era and the proliferating scholarship of hybridity, diasporas, creolisation and relation.

The comments for each of these videos on Youtube also make for some interesting reading as many commenters respond strongly to the costume and performance presented, harking back to carnival of the 50s to 80s which resembled “street theatre” before the event “deteriorated into a ‘masquerade mockery’ of Brazil”. Whatever your opinion of contemporary Trinidadian carnival though, the beauty and creativity of costume and performance in these videos of “the greatest show on earth” is worth a watch.