Alice Yard: Trinidad and Tobago, February 2019

I presented my ongoing collage installation project "Get Me Bodied (2014-present)" for one night. 

I had the wonderful opportunity to head to Alice Yard, a residency space located in Woodbrook, Trinidad, Port of Spain, a self described space for "creative experiment, collaboration, and improvisation" for a week to present my project "Get Me Bodied" during the lead up to Carnival 2019.  This venture was laden with a lot of unknowns for me.  Creatively, this can be exciting but also anxiety producing.  This would be the first time I would bring my work to Trinidad, the country where my parents are from.  Trinidad, and the Caribbean itself have always showed up to varying degrees in the background of my work, like ghosts.  I wondered now if my signs and symbols would translate? I wondered what it meant to speak about the Caribbean from the Caribbean as a Caribbean person once removed? 

There were also  technical unknowns.  I had only every exhibited "Get Me Bodied" in a gallery or indoor gallery-like settings. The soft fabrics floated as pristine luxe items in aseptic white cube spaces.  Alice Yard had indoor and outdoor spaces that I would somehow need to connect.  I had no idea what the weather elements or night-time lighting would do to the work. 

While I stayed at The Yard, the space was activated by other artists, for example, by Kriston Chen and his 1000 Mokos project, where people of all ages and sizes took over the yard for stick walking sessions.  I soon realized that it was a space that people knew and passed through to see what was going on and that it had deep neighbourhod connections.  This became especially clear after I went out for J'Ouvert with local band 3Canal, and met so many people I'd already met through the Alice Yard Community.  

After carefully thinking the through the way the viewer would travel through the space with Sean Leonard, one of the facilitators of the space we hung the work in the day to see it come alive at night. The wind whipped through the fabrics, turning them into seductive spectres.   

photos: courtesy of Chris Cozier

As The Yard is a space that people know in the neighbourhood, a Moko Jumbie stilt walker graced us with a serendipitous walkthrough.

After the night of the presentation, Makeda Thomas, Trinidad/New York based artist, dancer, writer and curator, got in touch with me.  We had met a few days earlier at the Granderson Lab satellite space.   She was creating an independent Mas Camp based on the traditional Baby Doll Mas Character.  She realized that our projects really dovetailed in intention and both asked the same question "What type of woman do we make space for?" We decided to collaborate, and use my fabrics as banners that her Belmont Baby Dolls would use to parade through the stage and the streets of Port of Spain.  It was a real joy to see the fabrics locomote.  They were not just stationary figures, but animated players in expanding the margins.

photo: courtesy of Patrick Rasoanaivo

photo: courtesy of Makeda Thomas

photo: courtesy of Patrick Rasoanaivo

photo and video: Courtesy of Makeda Thomas

With support from Canada Council For The Arts

Here is a preview of December 2020's presentation of "Get Me Bodied: Navigation Acts" at Alice Yard.