Monthly Archives: April 2012

Jack White and the Blues

This week’s video feature begins with Jack White’s mention of Cab Calloway and improvisational performance of St. James’ Infirmary Blues on BBC2’s Later with Jools Holland:

Before doing his northern Detroit version of St. James’ Infirmary Blues, White mentions that he first heard it performed by Cab Calloway as part of a Betty Boop cartoon. This great version of the song along with the original cartoon is also available online and posted below. Calloway’s performance comes about 4 minutes 20 into the cartoon and it’s not only Calloway’s voice you can hear but also his dance moves you can see too, as performed by Koko the clown. Calloway’s performance was in fact recorded and then transferred into the animation using the rotoscoping method so that frame-by-frame Koko would mimic Calloway’s unique moves. This method was also used to transfer Calloway’s move onto the screen in the Betty Boop cartoon Minnie the Moocher that we used as our first video of the week post.

Of course White has always been influenced by earlier blues artists and this continues on his first solo album, Blunderbuss, which was released last week.  Track 8 – I’m Shakin’ – features a great guitar riff and sees White covering “The Prince of the Blues” Little Willie John.

Earlier in his career as one part of the duo The White Stripes live performances often included covers of various Delta Blues artists including: Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson and as shown here below the fierce voice and guitar bashing sounds of Son House.

The First Black Britons DVD

Thanks to Tony T for passing on the information about this resource:

“The First Black Britons” is a DVD resource on the West India Regiment (made for BBC TV in 2005)

A link to the trailer is posted below (and is available to view on Vimeo.com via: http://vimeo.com/37661768)

‘The First Black Britons’ can be purchased on Amazon.co.uk or from our
distributor’s website www.beckmanndirect.com.

“Originally broadcast on BBC Television, “The First Black Britons” presents a
wealth of information and historical discovery, delivered (to-camera) in a
warm and ‘to-the-point’ style. Our film reveals the incredible hidden
history of thousands of African men (11,000 by the year 1800), lifted from
slavery to lead a journey to citizenship in the New World – as equals of
white comrades in arms. They fought in the Napoleonic Wars as the West
India Regiment (1795-1927).

“One of Britain’s leading TV comedy actors, Gary Beadle presents our story
as a journey of discovery in Barbados, Jamaica, Liverpool, London and
Windsor. Illustrated by a wealth of photographs and pictures, this dramatic
and compelling story is ‘brought to life’ by actors in scenes based on the
actual quotes of Prime Minister William Pitt (the younger), his friend,
William Wilberforce, Queen Victoria, and, the very soldiers who shaped
attitudes to race and identity at each turn of the infamous triangular
Slave Trade – involving Britain, West Africa and the Americas.

“The viewer discovers tourist attractions, social and political history,
culture and heritage. 59-minutes are divided into 3 x 18-minute stories,
structured as follows:

Story 1. ‘Slaves in Redcoats’:
How the government of abolitionist Prime Minister, William Pitt (the
younger) secretly purchased a slave-army to defeat French and Napoleonic
forces in the Americas.

Story 2. ‘The Queen’s Gentlemen’:
How Britain’s first African army won the personal favour of Queen
Victoria, and carved a unique status as a new class of citizen – ‘Black
British’.

Story 3. ‘The Prodigals’ Return’:
How West India Regiment soldiers – ‘the sons of slaves’ – exacted bloody
revenge on the ‘Chiefdoms’ that sold them into captivity, returning to the
infamous slave forts of West Africa to win 2 Victoria Cross medals, in a
‘Action Adventure’ of imperial conquest.

For further details of the programme do please have a look at our website:
www.sweetpatootee.co.uk
Tony T and Rebecca Goldstone
Sweet Patootee Ltd”

‘Timed Out’ Panel Discussion and Book Launch

We are happy to announce this exciting event taking place at InIVA next week:

Panel Discussion and launch of a new book, Timed Out: Art and the Transnational Caribbean (Manchester University Press), by Dr Leon Wainwright. With panellists: Sonia Boyce and Paul Wood. Chaired by Paul Goodwin.

Timed out is a pioneering study of modern and contemporary art in the aftermath of empire. It addresses the current ‘global turn’ in the study of art by way of the transnational Caribbean, offering an in-depth account of its integral role in histories of art in the Atlantic world. The book looks at why art of the Anglophone Caribbean and its diaspora has been placed not only ‘outside’ but ‘behind’ more familiar and dominant art canons, and how the politics of space and time can be engaged in new ways to rethink the global geography of art.”

This event will be held at InIVA, Rivington Place, London beginning at 6.30pm. To find out more click here.

To find out more about the book and its author click here.

Kanaval and ‘Caste’

Two upcoming exhibitions – one in Nottingham and one in London – present the work of photographer Leah Gordon through two different frames of reference.

The first is titled after the 2010 publication Kanaval: Vodou, Politics and Revolution on the Streets of Haiti and will juxtapose some of the images and oral histories from that book with a special commission by Haitian artist André Eugene that will utilise Jeremy Deller’s 2005 English ‘Folk Archive’.

Kanaval will be at the New Art Exchange, Nottingham, 16 June – 11 August 2012. Click here for more information.

This exhibition will also be preceded on the 15 June by a conversation between Leah  Gordon and Guardian columnist Sean O’Hagan at 6.15 – 7.30pm.

The Second exhibition titled Leah Gordon ‘Caste’ presents new photographic work from Gordon that investigates the Haitian colonial history of racial classification. In 18th-century Saint Domingue Moreau de St Mery was responsible for charting: “a surreal taxonomy of race which classified skin colour from Noir to Blanche using names borrowed from mythology, natural history and bestial miscegenation.”

‘Caste’ will be at The Riflemaker Gallery in London 28 May – 7 July 2012. Click here for more information.

The French Atlantic: A Tricoloured Ocean Workshop

We are happy to announce an upcoming collaborative workshop that will focus on the French Atlantic:

“Final details – including the rationale behind the workshop, information about speakers and a full programme – for ‘The French Atlantic: A Tricoloured Ocean’ are now available on the website of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery, based at the University of Liverpool:

http://www.liv.ac.uk/csis/

This is a collaborative workshop taking place at the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool, on Monday 21 May 2012 from 12.30 to 4.30 pm. As spaces are limited, we would be grateful if you would inform Devi Hardeen (d.hardeen@liv.ac.uk) by Monday 7 May 2012 if you would like to attend.

We hope that you will be able to join us.”

Arcade Fire in Haiti and Kanaval in Jacmel

The stimulus for this week’s video feature was a montage of clips made into a short video by the world-renowned band Arcade Fire from a couple of trips they made to Haiti.

These clips were filmed during a number of trips Arcade Fire made to Haiti in March 2011 and February 2012 and played to one of the best tracks – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) – from their latest album The Suburbs. There are some great shots of the mountainous landscape that gave Haiti its name but also a lot of great clips showing Haitian carnival masks and costumes being used in performance in the Southern Haitian town of Jacmel.

These clips reminded me of the arresting images of Haitian carnival revealers by photographer Leah Gordon in the book Kanaval: Vodou, Politics and Revolution of the Streets of Haiti published in 2010. These extraordinarily potent images are surrounded by a number of compelling essays by scholars working in a variety of disciplines and an array of oral testimonies from contemporary carnival participants who discuss: their costume, their performance, and its meaning for them.

More images of Kanaval – with some short descriptions of stock characters – can be seen on Leah Gordon’s homepage. The Guardian also posted a review of the publication in 2010 that provoked a heated online debate with some though-provoking comments. This is still available to view online, click here to see it in full.

Showing the vast preparations for this annual event is another film created by Haitian youth working with Ciné Institute who are based in Jacmel. They began by creating Film Festival Jakmèl which screened international films to thousands of Haitians annually. This event was held for three years before Ciné Institute expanded to provide film education and edutainment, technical training, and media related micro enterprise opportunities to local youth.

This film is an assembly of stories filmed by Ciné Lekol students during the 2009 Jacmel Carnival under the instruction of Jonathan Stack in a workshop on Documentary Production and posted on Vimeo. This video follows a few individuals and groups who take part in carnival every year in the run up to the 2009 event. Its features a brilliant set of short interviews with participants who explain how they prepare for carnival each year revealing a mix of motivations behind carnival performance. Even such esteemed politicians as René Preval and Abraham Lincoln makes appearances among more familiar carnival characters like Charles Oscar and the lansekod.  Click here to find out more about Ciné Institute – whose latest film Stones in the Sun had its world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend.

Video of the Week: Curating in Africa Symposium

After last weeks break we are getting back on track this week with some in-depth talks from the Curating in Africa Symposium which was held at Tate Modern in October 2010. “This symposium brought together leading curators involved in some of the most active areas of artistic production in Africa to address the state of curatorial practice in this region.”

There are four videos from the symposium available online. To access these click on the video image link below which will take you directly to the page on Tate’s site where you can watch these. If you have a problem accessing the videos when you first press play – try refreshing the page and then clicking play again.

Below is some more detailed information about the symposium and the speakers who took part in the first day’s open symposium:

“The Curating in Africa symposium, organised by Kerryn Greenberg (Curatorial Department, Tate Modern) in collaboration with Tate National, and funded by the World Collections Programme (WCP), brought together seven leading curators involved in some of the most active areas of artistic production in Africa to address the achievements of and challenges facing curators working in Africa today.

The participants were Meskerem Assegued (Zoma Contemporary Art Center, Ethiopia); Raphael Chikukwa (National Gallery of Zimbabwe); Marilyn Douala Bell (Doul’art, Cameroon); N´Goné Fall (Independent Curator, Senegal); Abdellah Karroum (L’appartement 22, Morocco); Riason Naidoo (South African National Gallery) and Bisi Silva (CCA Lagos, Nigeria).

Day One – Open Symposium

The first day was attended by approximately 100 invited curators, artists, graduate students, art historians and collectors and consisted of 30 minute presentations by each of the speakers on the context they are working in and a recent curatorial project.

N’Gone Fall, an independent curator who works between Dakar and Paris emphasized the importance of exhibitions that deal with history, geography and politics. She also talked about the benefits of collaboration, particularly with regards to Contact Zone an exhibition at the National Museum in Mali.

Raphael Chikukwa, the curator at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe focused on the history of his organization and its resilience during times of political instability. He talked about the challenges of fundraising and developing new audiences, as well as the importance of opening the debate and increasing the visibility of Zimbabwean artists internationally. The Harare Festival of Arts will take place from 26 April – 2 May 2011.

Marilyn Douala Bell spoke about the importance of site-specific projects, especially in a city without museums. She talked about some of the ways Doual’art has supported artists and engaged the local community over the past two decades. The next edition of SUD, organized by Doual’art, will open on 4 December 2010.

Bisi Silva, founding director of CCA Lagos spoke about Nigeria’s recent history and the infrastructural, physical and intellectual deficit Nigeria was left with after the dictatorship. She talked about the importance of professional development opportunities and the limited number of exhibition catalogues and monographs published in Africa. She also presented several exhibitions she has curated atCCA Lagos, including the inaugural exhibition DemocrazyLike a Virgin, and Art, Fashion and Identity. She also talked about J.D. Okhai Ojeikere’s exhibition which opened at CCA, Lagos on 1 October 2010. A mini retrospective of Ojeikere’s photographs will open at Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki in April 2011.

Riason Naidoo, Director of the South African National Gallery (SANG), gave an overview of his institution’s history and stressed the importance of resisting the pressure to produce exhibitions that may have popular appeal, but little gravitas. He talked in detail about 1910–2010 From Pierneef to Gugulective, the first exhibition he curated at the SANG, and the importance of creating discursive spaces.

Meskerem Assegued, founder of Zoma Contemporary Art Center in Ethiopia, discussed the impact of the military government on the Ethiopian art scene in the 1970s and 1980s. She presented Temporary, a public art happening she organized in Meskel Square and Green Flame, an exhibition in Vienna which included Julie Mehretu, Stephan Vitiello, and Elias Sime. Assegued is currently working on a major exhibition of Elias Sime’s work and a seminar Where do we go from here that will take place in Addis Ababa in January 2011.

Abdellah Karroum talked about studying abroad and not knowing one’s home on returning. He introduced various projects that he organized which enabled him to reconnect with Morocco. He discussed the genesis of Apartment 22 and the challenges of financing independent spaces.

The day ended with a roundtable discussion which touched on the following topics: arts education, censorship, the development of local audiences, and the internationalisation of exhibition programmes.”

There is also some information available on Tate’s site about a closed workshop involving 30 curators which took place on the following day. The themes addressed in this workshop included:

The Current State and Future of Art Museums in Africa

Alternatives to the Museum: Independent Spaces in Africa

The History and Sustainability of Biennials in Africa

How to Shape the Future

To read more about any of these discussion or to find out about the outcomes of the symposium click here.