Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Monday, January 30, 2006
I did my performance paper (as per the title of this entry) at the Uni of West Indies today. It was arranged through Ken Ramchand, who is heading up the new Academy for Art and Public Culture at the also-new University of Trinidad and Tobago, and K.D. Srivastava, VP and provost of UTT. So a joint venture, the first for UWI and UTT and it was a good turnout and resulted in good discussions indeed. The piece is one I first composed for a conference last year at the University of Siegen in Germany, focussing in on notions of nationalist discourses. My presentation is a blend of critical analysis, performance, hiphop, and storytelling, essentially getting at the huge problmatics we are currently facing in a globalized space where notions of "terror" and "security" are becoming ever-more legitimizing factors in surveillance and violence. At least, in a nutshell, dat's what dat's about. It is, I hope, also a playful jab at current power brokers and suggests a space for interventionist entry, although that may be my ultimate optimist speaking. One of the elements of the piece (which perhaps i should put up as a vlog someday soon) is a count-up from one to seven, eventually taking folks through the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian national who was shot seven times in the head last year by British police as he boarded the underground. So the photo here is one of my several renditions of that one-to-seven count.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Another late start -- my travelling compadre, David Chariandy, and i are getting used to this, rising at whatever time and heading out with our coffees onto this wonderful balcony overlooking the water. Looking across, we can see the southern arm of Trinidad, beyond that, the mountains of venezuala, or so we're told. Still, an inevitable isolation in this expat apartment block, lockdown building, even cabbies have to indicate us as legitimate passengers before gaining egress. (Frustrated by a lack of internet access, though, how quickly we adjust to technology, or lack thereof. Of course, there are tenants here in the bldg with full on adsl, just not in this apartment.) But did find to my delight that i get a strong and unprotected signal just by the elevators, so though it's a hard slog sitting on stone steps (yes i could bring out a cushion but just don't bother), it gets me online and out there. And there are necessities here, not just play, like letters of reference and other workly things with reasearch assistants, TRU admin folk, and the like. Sometimes a holiday is just not a holiday, or sometimes there are some of us who never really have down-time, just inbetween-time. Got to talk to Jeff Derksen 'bout that.
So David and i sit on the balcony and work on our various projects, he editing a novel that is just about there, me contemplating opening up my novel file, which is about halfdone, and then usually relenting to the pressures of daily work instead. That's okay for now, since i'll be at the banff centre residency, babble-babel-rabble, in the summer and will be able to punch out what i need to finish this project then. (Now anticipate, figure, wonder, that this novel will grow to about 450 ms pages, not sure why that figure sticks, and it's not so much a goal than an assumptionn. Could be shorter, hopefully not longer!)
Tonight a dinner and conversation with Kenneth Ramchand, a well-known and respected postcolonial crit academic and Trinadian senator. Interesting times, engaging. Ken and Avril have several dogs, one of whom, Tiger, i attempted to bond with over the course of the evening, though he was having none of it. Occasional fearbarking backwards, sometimes just avoiding me. A face like a pitbull, but very short and squat body, elongated, made me query what he actually had for parentage. Flummoxed to hear his other half was dacshound. No, seriously. What a quircky beast, but quite adorable...
David and i went to Carenage up the coast a few minutes so he could research a part of his novel. The village was a site for shipwork and a cantonment and many other things over the past century and more, so i enjoyed wandering the streets a bit. Certainly not the expat hirise here.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Landed in Trinidad late Friday afternoon, spent the evening in, just sorting out what it is to be in an expat compound and all the distinctions that sets upon us. Today went off to a beach, exploring some incredibly treacherous mountain roads, all thanks to the driver provided by the University of Trinidad and Tobago, where I give a talk on Monday. Some photos here, of the corner view looking out to Port of Spain from the expat building, and me frolicking in the waves...
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
As part of this CRC, I'm looking at art production in various postcolonial 'states' (and here i use both senses of the word). That is taking me to Trinidad in about 36 hours where I will be meeting academics and administrators affiliated with thr relatively new University of Trinidad and Tobago. And an excellent entry into that is the fil premiere tonight in Toronto. Titled "Uncomfortable" this film by Trinidadian-Canadian artist/educator/intellectual Richard Fung showcases the work of Trinidadian artist Chris Cozier, who will be in attendance tonight. I will also meet with Chris tomorrow as well as interview Richard for the multiculturalism grant i have described elsewhere. So, this is an attempt to pick off several birds with a single stone! More later after the fil and beyond.
CRC in Cultural and Artistic Inquiry
Thompson Rivers University