Category Archives: Online Resources

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.

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CFC: SAVVY Journal 5th Edition

Savvy logo CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS 5th EDITION SAVVY JOURNAL 

At The Shrine

Reflections, Reciprocalities and Reverberations: Fine Art and Music

The fifth edition of the SAVVY Journal for critical texts on contemporary African art will explore the influence of music on contemporary art practices and map interfaces between visual media, fine art, and music in the African and African diaspora context. The title of this collection, “At the Shrine” is a reference to Fela Kuti‘s Shrine Nightclub and concert venue; a cultural space and an epitome of a social sculpture. This music venue captures our vision of the links between visual expression, music, and critical inquiry.

The mutual relationship between music and fine art, which goes back to time immemorial, manifests itself on different levels. Both artistic languages inform each other in diverse enriching ways. Some of these points of intersection that have crystallized and proven to be ground-breaking in a variety of disciplines in recent decades include, but are not limited to: Performance/ Performativity – e.g. the enigmatic blend of music and performance art, as in the case of Les Têtes Brulées, or the socio-political vigour channelled through the audio and visual of Fela Kuti’s music, which has since been an important source of inspiration for many visual artists; Photography – e.g. the presence of James Brown’s music in Malick Sidibe’s photography, the synergy between Johannesburg’s jazz scene and a whole generation of Drum photographers, or the field of music portraiture championed by the likes of Samuel Nja Kwa; Video – ranging from video art, as in the case of Goddy Leye’s “We Are The World”, to music video clips featuring a variety of musical styles from Azonto, through Coupé Decalé or Kwaito to Rai that have completely transformed the production and consumption of popular culture in Africa; Illustration, Patterning, and Painting – which have been essential in the making of outstanding record covers and album posters; the interconnectedness between music and fashion design; the influence of the likes of Sun Ra on Afrofuturism; Experimental Composition and Sound Art as in the case of Emeka Ogboh; Theatre/ Theatricality – the links in popular theatre traditions between multimedia theatre groups that rely on popular music bands and sign-board painters, such as in Ghanaian and Nigerian Concert Party traditions; Electronica – artists, musicians are creatively reusing music software, online resources, and mobile phone technologies to refigure older styles of music, dance, communication and visual imaging. Some of these forms are explicitly understood as art while others are ephemeral forms of expression. Street Art – graffiti, spoken word, poetry, street dance are forms that link musical, political and counter-cultural expression.

This edition of SAVVY Journal is not intended as an anthology of music and fine art. Instead, we   ask contributors to investigate where disciplines meet, how genres are demarcated, and what emerges from their various encounters, as well as explore the nexus between performativity, fine art, music and technology. Indeed we are concerned with the ways in which ideas of genre and modality are themselves made and unmade in artistic practice. We are interested in articles on the role of sound appropriation in the conceptualisation of art works and of visual aspects in the creation, performance and consumption of sound and music.

Furthermore, this edition will explore and identify those artists who, using various textures and formats, work on this crossroad of sound and vision. Also, from a more general point of view, we are interested in reflections on how the encounter of image and sound in popular music has influenced culture and society. The impact of soundtracks on social and political movements on and beyond the continent would be another fascinating topic.

For this edition, the SAVVY Journal editorial will be enriched by the following guest-editors:

Dr. Hauke Dorsch (African Music Archives, Mainz), Ntone Edjabe (Chimurenga / Pan African Space Station, Cape Town) and Prof. Jesse Weaver Shipley (Haverford College, Philadelphia).

We invite essays from writers of all backgrounds – artists, curators, art historians, and theoreticians, scholars – not exceeding 3500 words in length, discussing the above mentioned or related issues.

Additionally, we are interested in more general articles such as artist-features, exhibition reviews and previews of circa 1500 words.

For more information please visit www.savvy-journal.com

Submissions to: editorial@savvy-journal.com

Deadline: 15th August 2013

Modalities:

  • Manuscripts with max. 3500 words in length, as text document WITHOUT formatting
  • Author’s names and short biography of ca. 100 words at the end of the article
  • Texts must be accompanied by five keywords
  • Manuscripts must be submitted in English or German. All German texts should also be accompanied by an English translation
  • All bibliographic references must be included in the document’s last page
  • VERY IMPORTANT: Do NOT  use the footnote or endnote facility in your word-processing program; just add the notes, numbered, at the end of the main text
  • VERY IMPORTANT: please include the following info: – artist’s (or author’s) name in CAPTIONS, title of work must be in italic, date of work, media, dimensions, collection (or place of exhibition), photo credits. e.g._: Jane Alexander, The Butcher Boys, 1985/86 (plaster sculpture), National Gallery of Arts, Cape Town, South Africa.
SAVVY | art.contemporary.african
SAVVY | kunst.zeitgenössisch.afrikanisch
http://www.savvy-journal.com
editorial@savvy-journal.com
Dr. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (Chief-Editor)
Andrea Heister (Dep. Chief-Editor)
SAVVY Journal c/o SAVVY Contemporary e.V.
Richard Str. 43/44
12005 Berlin
Germany

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.

African Americans and the US Penal System

Trayvon Martin’s fatal shooting in late February 2012 has sparked off a whole host of debates around the problematic relationship of African-Americans to the US penal system in the popular media. Yet this has long been a contentious issue leading many to draw parallels between the contemporary treatment and incarceration rates, particularly of African-American men in the US, and former explicit regimes of discrimination in that country such as Jim Crow and Slavery. Such comparisons led one online blogger to claim that more black men are in prison today than enslaved in 1850, while there have also been a host of good academic studies in this area such as Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – summarized via Worldcat.org as:

“…the book Lani Guinier calls “brave and bold,” and Pulitzer Prize-winner David Levering Lewis calls “stunning,” … In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet, as legal star Michelle Alexander reveals, today it is perfectly legal to discriminate.”

In relation to this Angelina Matson and the design team at Criminolgy.com created the graphic below illustrating case-by-case examinations of police brutality, for more information about this graphic click here:

Police Brutality: Know Your Rights
Created by: Criminology.com

Debates of this nature have been engaged with widely through the arts. Artist Coco Fusco for example, whose work appeared in the 2010 Afro Modern exhibition at Tate Liverpool, has engaged with issues of incarceration and exploitation in her writing (see At Your Service: Latin Women in the Global Information Network). Widening the debate internationally and also exploring the role of women in the US military as perpetrators of torture in the War on Terror Fusco published the work A Field Guide for Female Interrogators:

“Framed as a letter to Virginia Woolf – who argued that women could prevent war – Fusco asks elemental questions about how the US military has capitalized on the growing presence of women in its ranks and how it is adapting originally feminist ideas about sexual assertiveness in its interrogation strategies”

Also see our earlier post via curatorial fellows at MoCADA: Changing “The Master Plan” Hybridity and Black Art and Design.

Art, genre et dieux: un voyage de recherche a la Ghetto Biennale de Port-au-Prince

I’m happy to announce the addition of some great new resources to the Black Atlantic site relating to Charlotte Hammond‘s exciting new research (Postgraduate Research Student in the Department of Drama and Theatre, Royal Holloway) which examines visual representations of transvestism in the Francophone Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique and Haiti and their diasporic communities in France.

Charlotte recently participated in the Ghetto Biennale in Port-au-Prince, Haiti  2011 and gave a paper titled Art, genre et dieux: un voyage de recherche a la Ghetto Biennale de Port-au-Prince as part of the ‘gender and culture’ seminar series which took place at the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, in Martinique. An audio recording of the paper – which was presented in French – is now available to listen to on the Black Atlantic Resource and is accompanied by a transcription of the paper in English, a link to the prezi Charlotte simultaneously presented, and some images of the work Charlotte produced during the Ghetto Biennale.

Art, Gender and Gods: a research trip to the Ghetto Biennale of Port-au-Prince

Within existing Caribbean (mostly fictional) representations, homosexual and trans characters tend to appear in supporting peripheral roles, often to affirm and solidify hegemonic gender binaries. Visibility of gender crossing in popular Caribbean culture, most apparent within the parameters of carnival performance, works in much the same way, more often exhibiting and reflecting dominant ideas of gender, than destabilizing and questioning the boundaries themselves.

There is a part of my project which deals with this more popular expression of transvestism, found in Carnival representation, using the work of a British artist, who like myself hails from the North West of England, Leah Gordon, whose 2008 film, Bounda pa Bounda: A Drag Zaka, depicts drag parody performed within a Rara band tradition in Haiti.

With little at stake, due to the ephemeral and sanctioned nature of what can be seen as harmless gender mimicry, the ease with which such temporary crossover is obtained makes the act a particularly intrusive form of impersonation.  The man, adopting female dress, carelessly forays into the sphere of the Other (the woman), without any concern for ‘realness’ in order to mock that which he does not successfully emulate in what Helen Gilbert terms a “spectacle of not passing” (2003).  As a process of reinscribing and renewing aesthetic standards however, it constitutes an important means of emphasizing prevailing modes of representation….

To Read more of Charlotte’s paper click here

To Listen to the French version of this paper click here

To view the accompanying Prezi click here

To Read a previous post about the Ghetto Biennale 2011

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.