Black Birds, Counterface, 2016, 5mins 9s
COUNTERFACE; A surface that comes into contact with another in a frictional environment. What if I look Black but am not of African descent? What does it mean if I identify with Black culture and ‘look Black’ but am not of African descent? What if I identify with the word Brown but not the word Black, however, I do identify with Black culture? If I identify with Black culture, and I look Black but am not of African descent is it possible that I can:
Counterface shows four women, who on the surface would be classified as Black. Set in a Grocery Store, it shows four women interacting with objects of Black culture that are both Ancient, Current and an amalgamation of both – Weave/Hair extensions, Fenty X Puma Slides, Dutch/African Wax Fabrics, Gold jewellery. Angela Sullen is an African American Cherokee Italian woman; Ayeesha Ash is an Maori Grenadian woman; Emele Ugavule is a Tokelauan Fijian woman and Meklit Kibret is an Ethiopian woman. This represents the way we as Women of Colour who are not Indigenous to Australia and are from different diasporas choose to engage with, purchase or wear parts of Black culture that we identify with and how we celebrate ourselves by celebrating cultural likeness and larger more visible diasporas.
Black Birds, Pehe, 2017, 21mins 15s
Pehe, the Tokelauan word for ‘song’, is an installation which brings to light the issues of Blackbirding: a slave trade that swept through the Pacific and Far North Queensland in the 19th Century, and Indentured Labour of Indians in Fiji. The installation features 4 women, each a descendent of a slave trade. Violet Aarti is a Fijian Indian woman and a descendent of the Girmitiyas indentured labour scheme; Kaiya Aboagye, an Indigenous Australian, South Sea Islander, Torres Strait Islander & Ghanian woman is a descendant of the Kanaka slave trade; and Emele Ugavule a Tokelauan Fijian woman who is a descendant of those taken during the Peruvian slave trade. Three women share their relationship with Indentured Labour & Blackbirding and the displacement it’s caused on their families and communities (Violet, Kaiya & Emele). Ugavule weaves through the past and engages in a history, ignored by those who created it, by sharing a song, a pehe, called Tagi Sina: a Tokelauan song written about the Peruvian Blackbirding slave trade. The installation is narrated by Ayeesha Ash, whose connection to slavery comes from being a descendent of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Ruy C. Campos, Entangled Landing Points, 2017, 9mins 6s
In the global network of submarine cables infrastructure, landing points are precarious sites, passive of being affected by local actors, by the environment or by security threats. They are, therefore, following Nicole Starosielski, pressure points where insignificant microcirculations can pursue a high impact over transoceanic communication, contesting the friction free nature of global communication. The artist looks to establish a phenomenological bond with this environment of transition of the submarine cables infrastructure, departing from landing points in Fortaleza (Brazil) to landing points in cities that are in opposing extremes of the Equatorial South Atlantic: Sangano (Angola) and Salgar (Colombian Caribbean).
Lionel Cruet, A Voice Reading: Mail to, 2017, 2min 13s
Voice Reading, Mail to: examines the idea of the absence as an audiovisual narrative installation. A mechanical voice supplements the human presence and narration and plays a role of interpreter. The voice reads about a human relation and conversation with the self. The narrative explores geographic reference, environmental cycles, and the conditions that dictate situations such as illegal immigration through coastal area, political boundaries, and issues of identity. Crossing connections with the audience on actual problems, and the role of media on the cultural discourse.
Tricia Diaz, The Mediation Dilemma, 2016, 3mins 20s
The video, “The Mediation Dilemma”, is a video that explores and contextualizes these issues that arise from social media engagement. In the video, I film myself in various positions and settings showing different aspects of the self. Throughout the video, my body becomes altered, transformed and modified and my image becomes the subject that is then superimposed and reconfigured in different directions and positions; producing distortions that conceal yet also reveal. In this way, my body becomes a pendulum that shifts through different phases simulating the shift between differing mental realities and identities. This was achieved through the use of back and forth gestural head movements as well as filters and effects to create a sense of disembodiment that shows a shift; from the real to the virtual, from the organic to the inorganic.
Sofía Gallisá Muriente, B-roll, 2017, 6mins 43s
B-roll is a film term that refers to supporting images used to illustrate spoken ideas or intercut with interviews to hide cuts and camera movements. In this video collage, images taken from promotional videos produced in recent years by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce of Puerto Rico are remixed to highlight the visual tropes recurrent in the marketing of Puerto Rico for foreign investors and travellers. Little has changed from propaganda videos made in the fifties and sixties to showcase Puerto Rico as an example of third world capitalist development in the face of the Cold War, except perhaps the cinematographic language. The recurrent use of drone shots is not only reminiscent of the long history of US militarisation and surveillance of Puerto Rico, but also of the helicopter transportation preferred by recent millionaire transplants to the island. Daniel Montes Carro composed the accompanying electronic music, which fuses audio taken from the videos with field recordings made at the 2016 Puerto Rico Investment Summit.
Joanna Helfer & Luis Vasquez La Roche, Incertidumbre y Fracaso/Uncertainty and Failure, 2017, 8mins 24s
Incertidumbre y Fracaso/Uncertainty and Failure is a collaborative video installation by Luis Vasquez La Roche and Joanna Helfer created during Helfer’s Transatlantic Artists Residency at Alice Yard in Trinidad and Tobago in 2017. The work began as a series of investigative collaborative walks exploring significant spaces within the Trinidadian landscape. Each walk aimed to uncover hidden meanings or narratives within the space and provide a platform for discussion and collaborative conversations.
This work represents an attempt by the artists to explore both the correlations and contradictions within their practices and their experience of a transnational encounter, and is composed by their interests in language, sound, video, memory and ritual. The video documents the act of exchanging written texts that are then destroyed before they are read. Not only through the act of burning but also through the act of recording this erasure of memory, the artwork becomes a failed attempt to let go as it instead consolidates and embodies memory. The accompanying soundtrack is a collection of words exchanged between the artists that were generated by their experiences during the walk and later on by their reflections of the documentation. Finally, these words become a text piece presented as a print designed to both guide and obscure the work.
Sarah Hudson, Karakia/Ritual Chants, 2016, 2mins 9s
If tino rangatiratanga is the concept of sovereignty, what does agency over one’s image look like within a digital era?
Ōpōtiki is a coastal town, home to about 4000 people in the Eastern Bay of Plenty of Aotearoa, New Zealand. In September 2015, the Ōpōtiki District Council established blanket approval for the recreational use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), also known as drones on council-owned land, reserves and roads.
Privacy focused fashion is produced through mixing anti-surveillance “stealth wear” with customary Māori knowledge of native flora. Aided with these adornments, Ōpōtiki residents stake a claim for privacy and identity protection by hiding in plain sight from RPAS cameras. They are in essence, one with the land…
Visuals by Sarah Hudson. Audio written and performed by F. Snow Te Tau and produced by Zach Webber.
Sarah Hudson, Putanga, 2016, 3mins 34s
A woman of colour’s self-love is political and radical, and it is unsettling for the status quo because she is choosing bravely to dismantle to narratives of racist aesthetics against her. So when people bully a girl of colour for being content and satisfied with her appearance – a reality that is subjected to racist, sexist slurs in cosmetic industries and when they tell her to be “humble” which is normative code for “Nah, you’re not special, you’re not light and delicate in a Eurocentric way” then she has every right to chew their hearts and spit them out. A non-white girl’s self-love is revolutionary and anyone trying to water it down needs to back right off.” – Mehreen Kasana.
The word ‘Putanga’ in the Māori language can have many different meanings. In certain contexts, it can mean outlet or vent. It can mean emergence, appearance and escape; at other times it can refer to a ‘symptom’. The loaded and layered meaning of the word Putanga, expresses the complicated and conscious relationship I have with my brown body every day. Audio used with permission by Irazema H. Vera.
Shivanjani Lal, में यहाँ नहीं हुँ (I am not here), 2017, 12mins 5s
Artist Shivanjani Lal will attempt to erase all of the locations of where she is from. Starting from her current geographical location/home: Australia, moving backward to where she was born: Fiji and finally to India where she is from culturally. In this erasure she hopes to explore a future possibility of renewal. She proposes that while the act of erasing, is violent, this violence allows for remaining residue to be put together in new ways that is no longer constrained by known understandings of geography and boundaries rather these lines which have been blurred out can be refilled with possibility whatever that might mean.
Natalia Mann, Isabel and Love Streets, 2017, 2mins 22s
This piece was inspired by watching the images which played in my mind as I listened to the music. I saw time standing still as treasured memories replay over and over again, silence in thinking, silence in waiting, age and youth, spirit passing through generations.
I was reminded of stories told to me by my step-daughter Rachel Steffensen about her Nan’s locked cupboard filled with treasured memoirs of births, passings and special moments in the family.
Grandma Isobel Stewart (Nan) lived for forty-one years on the corner of Isabel & Love Sts, in far north Queensland, Australia, long enough for the street to be named after her. She was known locally as a saint for her patience and loving spirit. Of Vanuatuan royal lineage, she married Kenneth Stewart, Kanak Aboriginal man who worked on the sugarcane fields and roads. Their five generations of children number about one hundred, and the young people in the film are her great-grandchildren.
We remember her with love.
Jodi Minnis, Paranoia, 2016, 2 mins 2s
Summer 2016, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Bahamas published a travel advisory for Bahamian students and tourists visiting certain parts of the United States of America due to tension sparked by police brutality against black people. The advisory was not well received by the US. Ironically, the US Embassy in The Bahamas and cruise lines published many travel advisories for their citizens and patrons in reference to the increasing number of crime in New Providence, The Bahamas over the past five (5) years. Paranoia was created to exist in the middle of those advisories: a caution of being black in America and a caution of the increasing crime back home. Standing amongst African Americans, a Bahamian would not be recognizable at first glance. The distinction lies in our behaviour and accent/dialect. However, the same distinction that isolates us from other nationalities in the US would not be the saving grace in The Bahamas. Moreover considering the blatant xenophobia arising in parts of the United States, would my behaviour and accent/dialect be a saving grace? This work was created to navigate these things and serve as a release of concerns as a black Bahamian studying in the United States.
Adam Patterson, Crown of Thorns, 2017, 1min 4s
Crown of Thorns highlights the process by which a Caribbean body resists the touristic gaze and
desire. Contextually introduced by an opening text, referencing both my own writing and that of Rilke, my body progressively grows spikes, seemingly in time with the rate at which the gaze casts itself against my skin. My body, reclining passively, exacts a force of resistance through biological impulse, pores opening to bear a crown of thorns. Crown of Thorns theorises a means to make the Caribbean body inhospitable to touristic desire and visitation. How does one resist ‘paradise’? Become Hell.
Danielle Russell, The Bakers of Oriental Gardens, 2016, 37mins 23s
“The Bakers of Oriental Gardens” is a short documentary film about the lives of 4 physically challenged Chinese women who live and work together in a bakery in Hebei, China. The film takes place over the course of 4 months (November – February). This is the bakery’s busiest season as three holidays fall during this period. As we follow the women over the course of the holidays, we learn about their work routine, their jobs, hobbies, dreams, aspirations and their past. Through it all, the women are dealt a blow which helps to bring them closer together.
Oneika Russell, A bit of what you fancy, 2017, 1min 24s
A bit of what you fancy is a video installation which explores tropicality as a trope in Caribbean visual culture. The video combines the often conflicting but interconnected ideas of desire and disgust as well as beauty and garishness in the culture. In the background of the video a stop motion animation features the colourful plant and animal life associated with the tropics. The tropical-themed animation uses popular printed textiles shrouded in brightly coloured plastic creepy-crawly toys. In the foreground are female figures in silhouette who are trapped in varying static body poses drawn from Caribbean popular entertainment culture. In the video the silhouetted figures and the fabricated animals and plant life all seek to capture the viewers attention simultaneously.
Shanice Smith, Forget-Me-Not, 2016, 1min
‘Forget-me- not’ is an ongoing series investigating sexual abuse of children within the Caribbean. This video uses easily identifiable objects from childhood with the intent of fostering some level of nostalgia within the viewer, allowing them to connect with the work. The paper boats in this piece are made from news articles about children who have been sexually abused and murdered in Trinidad and Tobago; burning these objects is a response to the violence the children were subjected to in their lifespan, as well as speaking to the silencing of their voices and stories within wider society.
Luis Vasquez La Roche, Espacios Imaginarios, 2016, 5min
Espacios imaginarios was created to embody something that cannot be found in real life. It is something recognizable yet incongruous. Its appearance impersonates something familiar and foreign. It sits in between the surreal, the uncanny and a magical realistic world that tries to articulate the acceptance of the supernatural as a part of reality. These in-between spaces between Trinidad and Venezuela where all kinds of unusual activities happen and where the landscape remains as the silent spectator.
Rodell Warner, Your Wilderness (Transoceanic and Equipped at Heart and Crown and Burning Up), 2017, 8s (looped)
The work is an animated self-portrait, a digital photograph, and features two additional animated gifs superimposed on it.
Alberta Whittle, Recipe for Planters Punch, 2016, 9mins 48s
“A Recipe for Planters Punch’ is a meditation on the enduring legacy of colonialism. Responding to a local Barbadian recipe for rum punch, Whittle locates the cane field and the accompanying plantations as sites for miscegenation. Manipulating the lyrics of Rihanna’s Bitch Better Have my Money into a call for reparations, she punctuates the performance with the recipe for rum punch and its corresponding rhyme:
“One of sour
Two of Sweet
Three of Strong
Four of Weak”.
“A Recipe for Planters Punch” was a specially-commissioned performance for the exhibition ‘Rum Retort’ at the Tobacco Warehouse, Greenock, 15-30.10.2016. Curated by Tiffany Boyle & Natalia Palombo for Mother Tongue.
Nick Whittle, SKIN SO DEEP, 2017, 3mins 9s
SKIN SO DEEP, 2017 is a short video, which emerged from an ongoing series of wall/floor based works. This recent body of work explores the contested relationship between Scotland and the Caribbean, a narrative, which speaks of slavery and empire building. As a white man who has lived in Barbados since 1979, I immediately became aware that even though l was now a minority, I enjoyed privilege based on the color of my skin and my nationality. Crucially, this privilege was unearned. SKIN SO DEEP begins and ends with an intimate conversation between the artist and his thoughts. Engaged in his personal ablutions, the artist questions his position and presence as an insurmountable embodiment of whiteness in the Caribbean. Through posing questions for himself and the viewers, the artist attempts to challenge these fixed positions to race and examine how we can acknowledge and challenge privilege.
Anisah Wood, Fall from Grace, 2015, 5mins 13s
Fall from Grace is an experimental animation created in response to the 2015 threat of mass deportation of undocumented immigrants living in the Dominican Republic. This video takes a critical look at the plight of immigrants, addressing ideas of belonging, home, displacement, identity, and loss. It frames the in-between space of rejection and absorption experienced by migrants, capturing it as a space of heightened unease, anxiety and fear of the unknown.
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