Sherlock Holmes used to say “El Emmental, Watson” every time they went to the market…
When I was told by Holly Byone (ARC Magazine), Lisa Howie (Bermuda National Gallery) and later on by Annalee Davis (Fresh Milk) about the existence of Caribbean Linked, I never expected to be so deeply involved with this project. My past residencies, workshops and symposiums, as well as my experience as an art teacher, led to my being invited this year, for the first time, as a “master artist.”
What does this mean? I still keep asking the same question every day to Elvis, to the other artists, to myself, to God? For me, this is a shift in the way I had been previously approached for these kinds of events.
The peculiar landscapes of Aruba, the endless wind, arid desert and dry weather that propagate the wilderness; the dunes, black stones, cacti, iguanas; the endless party life, tourism, cheese everywhere; the black and white cat that welcomes you every time you enter the premises of Ateliers ‘89 as a living sculpture. All of this made the perfect stage for a multidisciplinary team orchestrated by Elvis Lopez (Ateliers ’89), with curators Pablo León de la Barra (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum) and María Elena Ortiz (Pérez Art Museum Miami), writer-in-residence David Knight Jr. (Moko Magazine) and artists Robin de Vogel, Katherine Kennedy and myself working to provide a creative environment for this group of young artists.
Ryan Oduber also works each night to make sure everything is perfect for the Black Box artist talks, opening a window to the internet through Caribbean.tv and making our presentations available for other unexpected audiences.
“The winds never stops” began to be my way of understanding our transition on this premises; what did we come with…what will we go with…what will remain here…
My role as a “mentor” for such a nice, talented group of artists is more than a challenge to me, especially because I know how attached we all are to certain ways of developing concepts, processes and methods of working. I’ve been pushing their mental and physical boundaries through individual interviews, one by one, person to person. I’m getting the chance to understand each one and their particular circumstances as a personal journey, creating an alternate perspective which complements their formal presentations every night.
Each of us is learning; learning by observing, by experiencing other practices, by sharing personal and professional understandings, by transforming the beach, the dunes or the street in our workshops or offices. We are using this platform to explore new areas, to go to the unsafe, uncomfortable and unknown in our daily lives and artistic practices. To work with materials and media that we normally don’t use, or simply to understand how important it is to just take the time to breathe, to sit and read a book or to do nothing (if that is possible for an artist). Nobody but us will understand how the “Cheese” becomes a language, a philosophy and an extended universe during this particular time.
Caribbean Linked is a unique opportunity, and a model that should spread throughout our countries as well. This project lets us become immersed in and appreciate our similitudes and differences in the Caribbean, raising awareness of the specifics of every country’s cultural, social and political heritages and how they affect our perception of the others.
The network in the Caribbean region needs to be assembled, and this is only the beginning of what needs to be done.