CREATIVE SPACE #7 of 2020 (uploaded May 21st 2020)
CREATIVE SPACE is a series spotlighting local art and culture. As a brand, it dates back to 2009, published in LIAT’s inflight magazine. It was revamped in 2018 and ran to 2019 on Antiguanice.com. Its publishing partner, as of 2020, is the Daily Observer newspaper. There are plans for its continued evolution across multiple media platforms. CREATIVE SPACE is created, owned, and written by Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean author, journalist, and freelancer.
Here’s a link to the issue as it appeared on May 20th 2020 in the Daily Observer: Daily Observer art of the 21st century
Below is the extended online edition (not a duplicate of the edition with publishing partner Observer Media) with extras.
If you would like to be featured or to sponsor a future installment of the jhohadli.wordpress.com online edition of CREATIVE SPACE, BOOSTing your BRAND while boosting Antigua-Barbuda Art and Culture (contact Joanne to find out how)
CREATIVE SPACE: Antiguan and Barbudan Art of the Century
A few weeks ago I read a piece in the New York Times – The African American Art Shaping the 21st Century – in which top AA performers, mostly contemporary, talk about the art that they feel has been transformative this century. Example actress/producer Kerry Washington picked Beyonce’s Lemonade (2016), author (The Hate U Give) Angie Thomas picked the film Love and Basketball (2000), comedian and Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young-White picked Oscar winning film Moonlight (2016), Moonlight creator Barry Jenkins’ selected Solange’s Seat at the Table (2016). You can read the full article – in which responses cover all disciplines from film to lit to art installations to music to things that don’t fit neatly in to these categories – at New York Times.
I’ve been putting this question to local artists, trying to spark a similar conversation locally. It’s a hard question. I framed it as art that would have to be time-capsuled if we wanted to explain ourselves to the future. Not just something you enjoyed but something that shifted something in you, in the expression of art, in the culture.
Heather Doram, whom I interviewed for the April 8th 2020 edition of CREATIVE SPACE “Art, More Essential than Ever”, and Khan Cordice, whom I interviewed for the May 8th 2020 installment “In Conversation With the (Acting) Director of Culture” both offered answers, and before this article ends, I’ll offer mine. Just know that it’s hard to be definitive on these things (another day may yield different answers), but maybe think about it too, and weigh in. Let’s curate together the most seminal art of Antigua and Barbuda’s 21st century, so far.
Khan’s picks: The Secondary Schools Drama Festival – not any particular work of theatre per se but the Festival as a whole and “what would have developed out of it…these artists that existed before that used to be a part of theatre…but the rise of more Antiguan (and Barbudan) writers, also seeing a lot of young people being involved in theatrical presentations.” His second pick is a song “that I absolutely love and most people overlook”, Singing Sudden (Jermaine Samuel’s) farcical social commentary “Liard Eulogy” (2017).
“He could have had better production but I absolutely love that.”
(from Mark Brown’s Angel in Crisis series. Fun fact: I wrote about this series in my first CREATIVE SPACE, when it was in the inflight mag, and the note via the editor from the company was that it was too dark…which was kind of its appeal)
Heather’s picks: Mark Brown’s Angel in Crisis series – a 2008 visual art show described in international publication The Culture Trip as “a provocative contemplation of the human condition”. She credited “the depth of the pathos”. She also picked Women of Antigua’s multiple stagings over five years beginning 2008 of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and local variation When a Woman Moans for its expression of the range of emotions specific to women “that people don’t want to talk about.” She considers the re-interpretation of The Monologues by Sugar Apple Theatre (2019) part of this conversation as well.
Joanne’s picks: Heather Doram’s Strength of a Woman series (2005) – which I felt showed beautiful variations of Black Caribbean womanhood; celebrating us and reflecting ourselves, and our own possibilities, back at us. With use of her signature stitching and manipulation of textile and colour, themes at once political, sexual, symbolic, deep, and bold, it marked the artist’s continued technical and thematic evolution.
(from the Strength of a Woman series)
I also pick Honey Bee Theatre’s The Long Walk (2019) – which I wrote about in a previous CREATIVE SPACE. Based on a true plantation era story dug up from the National Archives, it was an emotional ride given the enslaved mother’s insistence, on repeated pain of punishment, of running away every night to reclaim her child, sold away. It is part of the story of Antigua and Barbuda, slavery to present, of a journey that very much insists on the humanity of our Black bodies and the depth of a mother’s love.
(scene from The Long Walk)
My final pick is Queen Ivena’s “Old Road Fight” (2000). With this song our first female calypso monarch kicked in a door, even if she didn’t yet earn a berth to ‘the big stage’. Written by Cuthbert ‘Best’ Williams, it does what calypso is supposed to do – tell the lives of the people. Dealing with the people’s resistance to a development project, it is a piece of history: a real life event and persistent ‘development’ dynamic – the ambitions of politicians and developers v. environmental and community interests – captured powerfully, and defiantly, in song.
(from Strength of a Woman series)
Now, your picks.
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