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Caribbean In/Securities: Creativity and Negotiation in the Caribbean (CARISCC)

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Review of the CARISCC touring art exhibition and launch event in Leeds, 23-27 October 2017

The fourth stage of CARISCC’s touring display – ‘Negotiating Caribbean In/Securities through Creativity: A Research and Art Exhibition’ – was hosted at Union 105 (East Street Arts), Chapeltown Road in Leeds, between Monday 23 October and Friday 27 October 2017.

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Exhibition view of the sculptural installation ‘Pressure nah let up. Mrs Mac (not her real name) performs the “ono” bed’ (2007) by contemporary artist Sonia E. Barrett, visible from the entrance to Union 105 (East Street Arts) in Chapeltown, Leeds, 23 October 2017.

This stage of the tour was particularly important because it marked a return to the city of Leeds, whose Caribbean diaspora communities had helped to inspire the development of a newly commissioned sculptural installation by contemporary visual artist Sonia E. Barrett when she visited the city earlier this year.

Sonia’s thought-provoking installation piece – ‘The Difficult Conversation’ (2017) – was the focal point of the art exhibition, and featured pieces of wooden chairs, deconstructed and suspended from the ceiling to create a representation of human corporeality that poignantly signified the fragility and precariy of lives held in suspension by factors such as poverty, social exclusion, injustice, political marginalisation and the traumatic impacts and legacies of racism.

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Exhibition view of the sculptural installation ‘The Difficult Conversation’ (2017), by contemporary visual artist Sonia E. Barrett, on display at Union 105 ( East Street Arts) in Leeds.Photo: Carol Dixon.

Other works featured in the exhibition were presented as part of a PowerPoint of images projected on the wall, and also as part of a looped sequence of video clips, photographic stills and digitized reproductions playing on a TV monitor in the exhibition space. Individual pieces by twelve contemporary visual artists with Caribbean heritage who had submitted entries for the CARISCC Art Competition during 2016 were shown in this digital display, including: figurative photo montage pieces and film-based installations by Sireita Mullings; the painting ‘Stick-Lick Dancers Parade’ by Paul Dash, featuring representations of street carnival masquerade performances; mixed-media collage work by Gina A. Smith, using the shape of a goat as a silhouette around which different images were layered to reference the impacts and vulnerabilities of global changes on the agricultural sector in the Caribbean region; and excerpts from the documentary film ‘Shashamane’ by Giulia Amati, which recounts the story of Rastas who have returned to continental Africa from Jamaica to live in the promised land of Shashamane, Ethiopia.

A launch event for the exhibition was held on Monday 23 October, attended by (among others) local artists and other residents from the Chapeltown area, scholars and students from the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University, organisers and contributors to Leeds Carnival, representatives of the Leeds West Indian Centre Charitable Trust and alumni from the nearby Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

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Principal Investigator Dr Patricia Noxolo (pictured centre right) introducing the writer and spoken word artist Khadijah Ibrahiim (pictured in the centre) at the launch of the CARISCC art exhibition in Leeds, 23 October 2017.

Following introductory presentations from CARISCC’s Principal Investigator, Dr Patricia Noxolo, and CARISCC Network Member Dr Anyaa Anim-Addo (Lecturer in Caribbean History, University of Leeds) the attending guests also enjoyed an inspirational poetic performance by local writer, theatre producer and spoken word artist Khadijah Ibrahiim.

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Writer, theatre producer and spoken word artist Khadijah Ibrahiim reciting a poem at the launch event for the CARISCC art exhibition in Leeds, 23 October 2017.

One of Khadijah’s current creative writing projects involves researching the history, cultural legacies and spiritual practices of Obeah in Jamaica, so the audience heard a reading from a recently drafted prose piece by her, titled ‘Duppy know who fi frighten!’ This excellent presentation (read in English and Jamaican Patois) was performed as a ‘Call-and-Response’ piece, with guests invited to join in with the refrain. Khadijah’s work subsequently catalysed wide-ranging discussions about how African-influenced and syncretic spiritual practices in the Caribbean – such as Obeah, Santeria and Rastafarianism, etc. – have continued to inform and inspire the ever-changing hybrid forms of artistic and creative expression that exist in the islands and nations of the region today, as well as throughout the wider global diaspora. Some examples discussed at the event included the way styles of music, drumming practices, dancehall choreography, spoken word performances and contemporary manifestations of street carnivals – from Junkanoo through to Jouvert [J’ouvert] – celebrate the spiritual and affective/emotional experience of transcendence into alternative (and many would say ‘higher’) states of being.

As with all the previous stages of the touring exhibition, the CARISCC Network established links with important contacts in Leeds who are actively involved in developing African and Caribbean diaspora arts and culture initiatives. Some examples of the organisations with which Network members are now in contact include:

  • Chapeltown Arts, managed by visual artist Sandra Whytes – http://chapeltownarts.org.uk/
  • Remember Oluwale – a charitable organisation who are fundraising to build a Garden of Hope in the centre of Leeds, in memory of  Nigerian migrant David Oluwale who died in the city in tragic circumstances during 1969 – http://www.rememberoluwale.org/
  • Organisers of the Leeds Carnival and contributors to the new book ‘Celebrate! 50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival,’ by Guy Farrar, Tim Smith and Max Farrar (with a foreword by Arthur France MBE, founder of the Leeds Carnival) – http://www.leedscarnival.co.uk/.

The final stage of the CARISCC touring art exhibition will take place at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham during May and June 2018.

For further information about CARISCC, please also feel free to write to Dr Carol Ann Dixon (CARISCC Network Facilitator) c/o C.A.Dixon@bham.ac.uk.

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Call for Papers: CARISCC Postgraduate Conference on In/securities and Creativity, Jamaica, 15 January 2018

Conference venue: The Blue Room, Mona Conference Centre, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Kingston, Jamaica

Date: Monday 15 January 2018, 9am – 5pm

Convener: Dr Patricia Noxolo, University of Birmingham, UK

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Introduction

Many scholars have highlighted the creative practices that Caribbean people routinely deploy in the face of insecurity caused by poverty, inequality, environmental challenges and violence. Although questions of Caribbean security and insecurity are often addressed as matters of governmental or military concern, this conference seeks to explore reconceptualisations of security and insecurity (in/security) through creativity.

We are interested in creativity in a broad sense, including artistic practices such as literature, film, theatre, dance, music and visual arts, but also the creative ways in which people live their lives (e.g. balance budgets, interpret policy, and perform politics).
In examining the links between precariousness and creativity, this CARISCC conference aims to bring together new approaches to the study of global security.

Therefore, CARISCC welcomes research papers and presentations which explore how in/security, as experienced and negotiated by ordinary people, informs creative and cultural practices in the Caribbean region.

This one-day interdisciplinary conference welcomes abstracts from scholars whose research concerns any aspect of Caribbean in/securities and creativity.

Themes

We particularly welcome presentation proposals / research papers that address (but are not limited to) the following topics and themes:

  • Creativity in negotiating livelihood in/securities;
  • Historical and contemporary in/securities and creativities;
  • In/secure transport(s) and mobilities;
  • In/security in visual and performance arts;
  • Reading and writing in/security;
  • Raced, gendered and sexual identities, in/security and creativity; and
  • Rural and urban in/securities and creativities.

Programme Details

In addition to scheduling three panel sessions (each comprising 3-4 papers / presentations), the conference also intends to offer:

  • Four travel bursaries (up to £500 GBP/$ 650 USD per person) to support conference attendance by a postdoctoral researcher or PhD candidate from within the Caribbean region who is not currently based at UWI Mona Campus in Jamaica;
  • Two keynote presentations – delivered by Dr Susan Mains (Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Dundee, UK, and CARISCC Network Member) and a guest scholar / arts practitioner invited from within the Caribbean region;
  • A welcome address from Dr Pat Noxolo (Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Birmingham, UK, and CARISCC’s Principal Investigator);
  • Refreshments and lunch.

Abstract Submission Guidelines

Please send abstracts of 200-300 words (in English) to Dr Patricia Noxolo (p.e.p.noxolo@bham.ac.uk), using the subject heading “CARISCC Postgraduate Conference.” Please include your university affiliation details, your preferred email address and a short biography of up to 150 words. It is anticipated that each presentation/research paper will last 10-15 minutes; and updated programme details will be released prior to the date of the conference to confirm presentation requirements and duration.

If you would like to apply for a travel bursary, please attach, with your abstract, a short statement (no more than 300 words) on the relevance of the conference theme to your research, the reasons why you need a bursary to attend, as well as your estimated expenses.

The deadline for submitting abstracts and 150-word biographies (as well as bursary applications) is Friday 24 November 2017.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Patricia Noxolo
CARISCC Conference Convener and Principal Investigator
Email: P.E.P.Noxolo@bham.ac.uk

Please click on the following link to download the full text of this call for papers (in PDF format): CARISCC-PGR-Conference-Call-for-Papers-Jamaica-January2018

 

CARISCC’s Art Exhibition at Union 105, Chapeltown, Leeds, Monday 23rd – Friday 27th October 2017

The next staging of CARISCC’s touring art exhibition – “Negotiating Caribbean In/Securities through Creativity” – will take place in Leeds, West Yorkshire, at Union 105/East Street Arts, 105 Chapeltown Road, Leeds LS7 3HY, from Monday 23rd October to Friday 27th October 2017.

Negotiating Caribbean In/Securities through Creativity: A Research and Art Exhibition is part of a Leverhulme Trust-funded project, entitled Caribbean In/Securities: Creativity and Negotiation in the Caribbean (CARISCC).

CARISCC is an international and interdisciplinary research network of seven leading universities in Caribbean Studies, namely Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Dundee in the UK, The University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands, Brock University in Canada, Rutgers University in the USA, and the University of the West Indies (Mona) in Jamaica, Caribbean. The network explores the interconnections and everyday negotiations between securities and insecurities (hence, ‘in/securities’) in relation to precariousness and creativity.

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A farmer from Jamaica’s Blue Mountain region shows ripe coffee berries from his farm (2016). Image courtesy of: Dr Kevon Rhiney (Associate Professor of Geography, Rutgers University), CARISCC Network Member.

This digital and print exhibition reflects such intellectual concerns, and specifically focuses on how Caribbean people use their creative energy to live with the everyday effects of poverty, inequality, environmental challenges and violence, while also generating globally influential creativity in literary, dance, aural, visual, political and audio-visual cultures.

The Leeds-based stage of the tour will feature two thought-provoking sculptures by the internationally renowned contemporary visual artist Sonia E. Barrett, who spent time in Chapeltown earlier this year meeting local residents, exploring the locality and working with found furniture and objects to creatively interpret the research project. Sonia’s recently commissioned artwork, “The Difficult Conversation” (2017), funded via CARISCC and the Leverhulme Trust, will be a particular focal point of the installation.

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Detail from the CARISCC-commissioned contemporary art installation, “The Difficult Conversation” (2017) by Sonia E. Barrett. Image courtesy of the artist. Copyright: Sonia E. Barrett.

If you would like to attend the exhibition’s launch event and drinks reception on Monday 23rd October, 6 – 8 pm at Union 105, Chapeltown Road, Leeds, please contact Dr Carol Ann Dixon (CARISCC Network Facilitator) via email c/o C.A.Dixon@bham.ac.uk so that your name can be added to the guest list. This is a FREE event, but places should be reserved (for catering purposes, no later than 20th October 2017).

Please note that the artworks will remain on view at Union 105, Chapeltown Road, Leeds until Friday 27th October 2017. Thereafter, the exhibition will tour to  Midlands Art Centre (Birmingham) in May/June 2018.

 

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