Transcommunality by Laura Anderson Barbata

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Transcommunality

Laura Anderson Barbata, a visual artist based in New York and Mexico City, began her interactions with stiltwalking communities in Cocorite, Trinidad, at the ‘Dragon’ Keylemanjahro School of Art & Culture. There, she witnessed children and teenagers being inculcated in the practice and art of the Moko Jumbie repertoire. Barbata’s creative engagements with groups of stiltwalkers took her to New York (The Brooklyn Jumbies) and Oaxaca (Los Zancudos de Zaachila) as well. Transcommunality, a visually arresting, monographic treatment, published by Turner Books in 2012, represents Barbata’s numerous years of collaboration with these three linked, yet markedly disparate performance collectives.

The compendium is clothbound and replete with high-definition imagery from photographers such as Stefan Falke (Moko Jumbies, 2004); Frank Veronsky (whose image is featured on the cover art) and Stefan Hagen (photographer for several Bloomsbury USA children’s titles), among others. Through this captivating presentation, Barbata’s pronouncements on the public spectacle of performance art emerge: here are treasures to be unearthed on the power of indigenous modes of revelry, meeting a fusion of sociocultural mores, creating stiltwalking installations that are dynamic, spellbinding, utterly new.

Transcommunality explores the power of ritual and the significance of costuming in bold, visionary strokes, melding both imagery and critical analysis, including a conversation with the artist that explores the impetus and evolution of the work she has created with, alongside and for these stiltwalking societies.

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Bolero by Luise Kimme

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Bolero

“Luise Kimme came amongst us and saw deep in us things, bold truths, great strength, nobility and beauty, that we are too close to ourselves to see, and she set about her task, chiselling, carving and sculpting our best-kept small-island secrets, giving us back to ourselves and celebrating us big to the world.”

– Peter Minshall, quoted in Bolero (2009)

What Minshall says about Kimme here is illustrative; what Kimme says about herself, and the process of creating art in Tobago, is equally telling: in Bolero, a Prospect Press published work, with photographs by Stefan Falke, Kimme declares, “I started making figurative carvings from whole trees in Tobago, where I am free to do what I like.” The statement continues, explaining the distinction, for Kimme, between working in the Caribbean and Europe. The Caribbean became the place in which the sculptress’ full range of expression could take flight: her influences took root in the magical everydayness of Tobago living, as well as the religious and spiritual resonances of Cuban culture.

In a tribute piece, honouring Kimme’s life and work, ARC Magazine reissued a piece by Marsha Pearce, originally published in the Trinidad Guardian’s Sunday Arts section. Pearce reports on Kimme’s March 2013 exhibition, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, contextualizing the exhibition’s title as offering the society

“a meaningful way in which to consider the art Kimme has been making for many years. A rainbow is symbolic of a bridge. Through her sculptures and drawings, Luise Kimme creates a bridge or link across which a spirit of place and people – a spirit of Tobago in particular – can traverse and take on physical, material form. With each sculptural piece and creative rendering on paper, Kimme reaches over the rainbow, and pulls what lies somewhere within us and brings it into a tangible manifestation. What she finds in us and carves into visible being is a powerful, indefatigable beauty.”

Luise Kimme passed away on April 19th, 2013. Paper Based Bookshop joins every fellow celebrant of Kimme’s outstanding legacy, in honouring her contributions to the Caribbean artistic and cultural landscape.