Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Certified Dead

The death of Daniel Guerra again leaves me at a loss as to what is the appropriate emotional response.

An initial autopsy says the 8 year old drowned.

When Norris Deonarine died of a heart attack last week I was too torn. Mr. Deonarine and I had many mutual friends and while we socialized in the same circles at times I wouldn’t say we were friends despite being friendly.

His death came a day after a violent attack on farmers in the Lopinot district.

While there was no scientific link made, he was said to be stressed and frustrated by the situation.

Mr. Deonarine was an activist and fighter and may have died in battle.

Young Daniel may have been a victim.

The possible involvement of a senior police officer in his death in my mind, brings the cause of death given into question.

The death of a friend years ago, first raised questions about the veracity of autopsy reports. It was suggested then, that attempts to control the statistics on some types of deaths led to dubious reasons being given.

This is not to suggest that the young man did not in fact drown but that there may be more to it than obvious to the eye.

In the immediate hours following his discovery, there were cries against child brutality and those outraged are perhaps placated by the official findings for cause of death.

It speaks to a larger problem though, one of trust.

To me the authorities have our trust and maybe not deservingly so.

Too with so much going on, Carnival included, I’m not sure we have reacted to this as we usually would have as a society, either death, myself included.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Today's nature...

On my way to work today I saw my first poui, albeit a bit early, and smoke coming from the hills. It means the dry season is upon us and the rainy season is ending. It also rained today.

What was most startling though was a tree by the Aranguez Savannah. Based on how my mind works all I could think was that I love God, particulalry His sense of humour.

I first saw one fat, juicy caterpillar munching on a leaf. Then I saw another and another and another only to realise the tree was covered in black and orange creepy crawlies, no leaves, just branches and caterpillars with filled bellies. I hope they were catepillars otherwise it wouldnt be so funny after all. It was ironic in that as natural and as harmless as it was, these feeding creatures, had stripped a tree of its foliage. It was stark and scary. If they were in fact catepillars and one day turn into butterflies, would they then be beautiful?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hein Sight


Is the artist a liar
Or is he of truth
Meek on the surface
But beneath a brute
On surfaces flat
Much like a braid
Strands become one
Chaos now staid
Keep up if you can
Appreciate comment
Gentle and strong
Cross borders of class
Bones and sketches
And plaster of paris
The world keeps on turning
Through his work
At night he interprets
By day maybe… he's a clerk
Is the artist a liar
Or is he of truth
His work so meek
With the strength of a brute

I do believe that the work of the artist is to make beautiful what is not in this world. Beauty is however subjective and so the artist is then entrusted with the responsibility of justifying their work so that innocence then softens what may sometimes be less than gentle, or cohesive or symmetrical or any of the other qualities academically ascribed to beauty.

Having met Bahamian artist Heino Schmid I encountered a gentle soul. This does not however rob him of his humanity which is complex and goes beyond the ethereal.

Soft spoken and very considered in all that he does Schmid is consequently able to execute his vision with such ease that it renders it ironically seemingly artless.
His gaze is usually far even when engaged in conversation about his work, his life and the world.

A trained artist and curator, Heino is not only qualified but experienced. While these may seem like lofty descriptives the contradiction of the man is that his feet are evidently and purposely planted in the same place that every other person walking this world’s are.

In his external world there is a feeling that not every thing need find its place and not everything need be in its place. This manifests in his work in a real sense as he tries not to create surrealistic or fantasy type work but draws on the seemingly mundane and overlooked applying to them concept and narrative that again read as easily as the proverbial sands through the hour glass.

Speaking with him on a random afternoon at Alice Yard where he was in residence for a number of weeks in 2010 revealed how his daily journeys informed his work not just with physical material but as well thoughts that layer his work in sublime and sometimes invisible ways.

Heino came across a yard in St James where he found the bones of horses and saw value in them. They would eventually form part of his final night exhibit.

Like many of us, Heino focuses on that one moment, that one great love, that one point of success. At the end he realized that all that he saw as incidental came together to form that point for those who experienced his exhibit. He moved on, perhaps not sure that he had done any work other than what had been on show. His gaze again fixed far.

Art in many spaces is the stuff of galleries and musea but where does it come from?
While liming at one of his favorite spots in Trinidad, the seemingly always open Smokey and Buntys he became captivated by the spontaneous architecture of the nameless probably homeless artist who used the friction and grooves of discarded bottles to attract the motley crue that frequents the Western Main Road landmark while also attracting a couple dollars.

While I too have marveled at the ability of this urban sculptor Heino was clearly moreso. It became a starting point for his most deliberate creation while here, the looped video of his attempts to have two bottles find peace, one balancing on the edge of the other.

He tried to explain to me why he had just a little bit of water in one of the bottles and what that represented in terms of it being a horizon transformed into something else as the failed attempt to balance the bottle spilled the water as it rolled down the slanted surface he mounted it on in the studio in which the mini film was recorded.

The point being that as we try to understand the artist, his work is too about him trying to understand.

He wondered out loud about why he found himself drawn to places like Smokey and Bunty and the abandoned lot that would have been the burial ground of horses perhaps recently or in a more romantic sense some many years ago.

Over a beer and cigarettes we would talk of the Bahamas. His wife would come up, the house they had built, the art scene on the island, his work as a curator and teacher and too a lot of questions. His work is in a great deal about investigation, discovery, internalization and creation.

It may be clich├ęd and even unnecessary to place him within the confines of the temporal continuum of art as Heino clearly inhabits a place all his own but the post-independence regional politics and dare I say post-millennial artistic sensibility are evident in his work.

Trained in the traditions of the Europeans, Schmid recognizes the value of the world in which he lives, the Caribbean that is, and seeks to re-present it and represent without apology and too without locating it anywhere but in the now.

His academic thesis, which recorded the journey of his finding a set of teeth and his attempts to find the owner, led to him finding a place for the work at a museum dedicated to dentistry, something he never foresaw. Again I see here how the journey is as important as the destination.

He left Alice Yard to go on to prepare to exhibit somewhere in the United Kingdom, the details escape me.

While it may be said that his work here is done it may provide a launching pad for what he will next present to the world as his art.

Heino one day said he had worked on one piece in 30 different ways before feeling that it had reached where it was meant to go.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No Minor Matter

In the melee of fiery selections for Carnival 2011 two tunes have struck this listener in a really nice place. Me Alone by the Black Spaniard, Bunch ah Garlic, De Girls Dem Darling…Bunji Garlin and the other a duet Feel to Wine, featuring Destra Garcia and Super Jigga T.C.

Both songs capture I believe, using minor chords, a warm, almost plaintive groove that is not only evident in the music but the lyrics of the songs.

Bunji’s draws melodic inspiration from Coldplay’s Viva la Vida and shares title with a little known selection by Jah Vinci from last year.

The song evokes the singularity but not loneliness, of its protagonist, who finds content throughout the Carnival despite being by them self, much like the character in Benjai’s Wine to the Side, who makes the best of her experience having been put out and not let in.

The duet it is a ‘sweetish’ sentiment expressed in a season when some say “why bring sand to the beach?” and maxims like after you exchange presents at Xmas you break up by New Years as Carnival is no time to be in a relationship still are heard if not adhered to. This is of course assuming that the “man” and “gyul” referred to is a steady and hopefully not one met during the two days of druken…oops…I mean wanton revelry which would be fine too especially if you don’t want to be alone. I mean if the wine goes well and well past Ash Wednesday then fine but otherwise a wine is a wine!

I might group them as Groovy but last years Murdah while groovy plays on a social reality that does not evoke the plaintive or the groovy. Too 2007’s Heart of a Man is fast paced yet civil, for want of a better word.

When showing off your stuff, chord change is no minor matter.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

If you know your party's extension...

I found myself oddly dressed at WASA fete last weekend, but so did a lot of others by my estimation. Such is the nature of doing what seems like something new. For me a hat as an accessory and not a thing of function is a new direction. It wasn’t just any hat though, its an almost Legionnaires shaped felt number in green that only fit on my crown, worn with a voile The Cloth shirt with green embroidery and dark jeans with red leather sneakers. I imagined myself quite a site for the sore eyes of those who don’t usually see men so fancily attired.

Well its Carnival and so in the context of the season the majority of attendees were as well appropriately dressed despite the fact that it was to me noteworthy.

Men seemed more interested in expressing themselves through color. Apart from the sneaker revolution being witnessed the also popular close fitting pants and shirts were not as obvious as they are on the streets.There was though a paring of turquoise and purple in a shirt and jeans respectively that stuck with me. Another standout was my man Eniola, in a khaki-green one piece coverall, green army hat and 3Canal I AM Re-evolution tee.

Given the nature of the party I was not surprised by the men’s attire as it called for a more practical than peacock approach. Most at WASA go to get on bad, not to pose.

Women are being quite creative with their hair. Those with weaves and extensions had shocks of color that stand out against jet black and sleek mostly short styles. Not much of what is being called the ‘the hump’ where the crown is elevated by the weave or another material underneath the hair giving it a height and curve that can withstand the hardest of jamming.

The dreadlocked set have been wearing a new tucked style called ‘petals’. It’s a soft folding of the strands of the locks to create the shape of flower petals.

In terms of the garb a lot of and I mean a lot of females were wearing fish nets under their shorts, some more eye-catching than others. Mostly thick body girls with them cut ¾. A lot too seemed to have come prepared for the rains that did come, bikini tops with short-shorts and yes…stockings beneath.

The color of the night was definitely turquoise, one of the official colors of the utility, followed closely by purple which seems to have saturated the world.

If you ever miss my voice you can call WASA to be welcomed by my “dulcet” tones!

A Phabulous Friend Circa '97

Of course the beauty of present circumstances and situations, the now, always seem to be the ultimate, the most intense or profound experience in comparison to the experience that may have taken place before. Whenever extreme emotion is expressed all else becomes inconsequential. What's my point? The feelings created by this relationship are not feelings that haven't been felt before (reality). This is the first time though that they are being experienced with these factors. In retrospect my life has been dotted with romantic equations, at their least challenging, at their most impossible. It can be easily said the challenge is a great part of the motivation that keeps it alive. I feel focused on. He is beautiful, absolutely. A sheltering stature and a calming energy. Beyond that I feel needed. His feigned naivete, boyish charm and innocence, humility and sense of humor make for a most wonderful man. What does he get out of this though? What keeps him around? Not being self-deprecating but it would be nice to know, to not guess or speculate as to what he sees. I'm not sure he levels with me. I know very little about him, about the past, the experiences that have helped shape this man I love so much.

Some of the past

Visiting photographer Carrie Stark asked to take some pics. I had no Idea what she had in mind but she asked that I shave my head. These are two of the shots from that day at CCA 7 In Laventille, once an international hub of artistes and personalities , now home to the likes of The Cropper Foundation, Embah, Che Lovelace and Above Ogilvy among others. No dis, just cant remember some of the other chic little operations in the building. Also good for a good home style lunch on weekdays!