Thursday, November 6, 2008

In the near future!

Though it has been a bit of time since the last post, thoughts, felling and everyday eating still continues to be had. CICER will soon be working on its website for both the Residency and the Foundation. For all those who have inquired about the Residency please e-mail me directly on my email address: By doing so I can respond to you quicker!
As we stand, due to some personal issues in 2008, 2009 CICER residency will not be taking place. Seeing as we are still in the construction stage, this is not bad. We look to launch both the Residency and the Foundation next year with celebrations in more then three countries, United States, England, Spain and Cape Verde. All information will be provided when the time comes. We will still be holding three more years of residency based on personal invitations only, after these three years we will be opening up the Residency for open applications.
We should be posting again in the beginning of the year, we hope that by then the website will be in play.

Kind regards, and please read on below to find out more about CICER 2008, A Personal Journal

Wednesday, July 23, 2008






For how long?

Just a little bit...

Currently working through some other projects, will be updating the CICER Blog in a couple of months... please view website for upcoming projects or events... or possibly the return of 'happenings' ...WHAT?.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Compilation of Ideas

I will soon have to compile a list of persons of Cultural interest who will make up next year's residents, this, off-course, will depend on their acceptance. With funding not yet secured the residents will have to pay for this trip themselves. They will have to see the importance in it so as to be able to give it their time. I am not apart from such works of self duty, having to work for something you see value in. The only thing I can provide right now, with regards to cost, is a remarkable price for lodging. They will pay about half the price they would pay for any other opportunity of the sort, so on this I feel there is already a high incentive being presented.

The compilation of ideas, as the tittle suggests, will come from different artist. This to me is the interesting space, prior to the physical space the residence itself occupies. Choosing persons who will come together is very important. Arranging a group who will accent each other will bring about a cohesion that can be strong and influential in the island. They may choose to be more closely productive based on that cohesion. They may find the connection in their practice and attitudes to be advantageous; abling them to push their elements and processes of creativity to different thinking localities, ale then to create interesting work. But something also has to be said about partly discarding the attitude for 'matching people.' How will they behave with inherent frictions in their works and personalities. Dialogue is a very important part of this residency and dialogue happens in many different ways, even the act of ignoring is a method of communicating. People react to spaces of unease, and discomfort, great work also comes from this. I do want there to be a level of individuality, this is the reason why there are encouragements for individual studies while in the island. I hope this will allow residents to space out, branch into their own moads of adjustment and investigation. All this is without the adjoining element of the Cape Verdean Creatives. They too will have their distinct attitudes. Language will come in to play when accessibility and is favored based on immediate conversation and understanding. The simplicity on their end is that they are Cape Verdean and they live there, but these coming residents are multi-disciplined and international; they will first have to study each other, and then be studied themselves, while studying practically everything else.

My mind is gearing up for this. I will soon write a list and compile the necessary fronts for a productive 09 residency. There were Creatives of the islands who actually asked for certain types of people to come, people that would most likely benefit them, or their parties, be it dancers, writers, etc... but I won't let this determine the group. The persons of residence will already be different in practices, and seeing as one of my goals is the opening of disciplines, having someone work with what they have may prove more beneficial when it comes to opening one's practice. The Artist in that sense of department and definition will no longer be, it is the Creative who will motivate the new highly discursive art works of the new millennium.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back in the big city with the thoughts of CICER

As time moves you settle in to the next thing. It may be your work or home, even room, food, transportation, all that may be. The time which has just passed, which at times made you think of everything different, some how flows passively by as if it were of another period of time, like dinosaurs. It is very interesting how modern worlds make you forget. They quickly bath you in things like bills and travel, mundane work, and plastic eating. Back from Cape Verde and my mind wants desperately to uniform itself back to the way things were prior to me leaving; but I can not let it happen. This is not just due to events which continue to circle my mind, but also the arrogance I hold towards such powers of influence. I may here be speaking more pressingly about London, how it is busy and you are in turn busy in it, but are you; am I? I have time to contemplate and plate what I am doing, but I hurry with the ever present reality--given to me and shown to me whenever I walk--that things here are happening and happening now. I rush to think of my slow speed and then realize I have been moving faster then most, but it is not the 'most' that I worry about, or wonder about, it is the few, those promoted widely in places like London; those writers that are written about, those artists that are arted about. Are you making the mark needed? i ask myself, the etching, the engraving? Have you started? CICER in such lights becomes a pebble. It can grow, and it is my intention that it grow, but it is a pebble nonetheless. The joint growth and challenge endured in the residency this past month can quickly subside in a place like LONDON, so I am careful when I venture to be impacted by a small country, by a small community, for big clouds still cast bigger shadows.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

CICER-08 Exhibition Images

Gisela's video Projection "Sombra"

Abraao's Disruptions of Narrations

The Guests

Magaly's photo manipulations

Antonio's Sound Piece

Abraao Installing Work

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hand-out for CICER-08 Exhibition, 'Assomada to Praia, Diretu'

‘Assomada to Praia, Diretu’
CICER-08 Residency Exhibition, Palacio Di Cultura – June 6th to 9th 2008

Welcome to the CICER-08 Residency Exhibition. CICER is proud to present the first exhibition of its Residency in the Palacio Di Cultura, a historical place for cultural insight in the heart of the capital city, Praia. CICER is a Residency which brings Person’s of Cultural Interest from around the world to Cape Verde so they may participate and collaborate with Cape Verdean Creatives. This year we have three artists who have come from three very culturally pressured areas and who themselves are immersed in contemporary discussions of identity and bi--sometimes tri--culture realities. Accompanying them in this exhibition is a Cape Verdean Creative who himself skates the thin ice of codified artistic practices, of practices and positions which debunk traditional roles of art thinking in the country. The milieu in this exhibition space compiles Creatives who reflect interdisciplinary concerns, for the presumed space of the traditional artist no longer exists inside contemporary areas of critical discourse.

And so are the conversations presented to us today that say we are speaking of something globally familiar. Gisela Creus’ work fixates on to us the person of person, the role of the shadow as a convoluted reflection of the Self. With her studies of the Self, she questions positions of foreignness and identification. She contextualizes herself as Other by de-contextualizing her walking partner, seen only when light is shed on her. Literal light then becomes a metaphor for understanding self; placing herself where ignorance is no longer justified; she has entered the space of the gaze. But are justifications not a play of sounds, of thoughts and quiet hums, where such hums often bounce into loud and interrupting levels; where it seeks to be justified. Antonio Rocha’s work emphasizes the thought of modernity’s interruption by simplifying it into repetitive phrases that ask of its value. The work becomes anything but answers to the questions they may pose, but more like loud thoughts in search of answers. Abraão Vicente’s conversations could also be in thought, fragmentation not only distracts communication it also emphasizes thought. If movement is a sequence of uninterrupted thoughts then how can we interrupt the sequential need for narration—possibly by splicing the conversations and abstracting the narrative? His interruptions of movement in his photo montages speak not only about the need for periods of thought, but also for space and un-recollective narratives. The artifice of narrative, should one choose this case, can best be seen in Magaly Ponce’s work, where collective imagery responds to personal whim and listens to creative composites of thought. Ponce’s work transplants and transposes the changes she has gone through in the country by amalgamating images into postcards scenes. The images themselves are inherently fiction, yet they remain absolutely real. She asks: what it is that is really fixed, in this emerging and submerging Kreolu culture?

CICER would like to thank the following institutions and individuals for the contribution and time they have given to the success of this year’s residency


Palacio Di Cultura
SOS Children’s Villages
University of Cape Verde
Associação De Capoeira
Fundação Amilcar Cabral
Raiz Di Polon
Rocha Family Residency


Angelo Barbosa
Jose Maria Barreto
Abraão Vicente
Mario Pereira
César Schofield Cardoso
Nick Hanson
Maria Da Veiga Rocha (Yaya)

Back to the question, why Assomada?

June 10th

Why not? How simple would this answer be if you had some information on this city, for nothing I will write now will convey its complexity, but I can only try, and hopefully your imagination will take over; explore its idea.
Assomada is not Praia for one. It does not carry the heavy weight of 'Capital,' and it does not want its presence either; this I have already asserted. It is a city that received the title of 'city' only five years ago, so it is a baby; an infant.
As a young child it is full of spirit and intrigue. It looks onto other places with some admiration but it also looks at itself as a source of admiration, for it studies itself much like a child does.
Assomada is in a place of change, surely, for it has grown into a city. It has grown rapidly by immigrant money. The Diaspora called for it and It responded. Earth cliffs have been moved, torn part and spaced so this once small town could flourish into the island's second city. It sits at the top of a mountain whose peak is now the physical city. It has been opened and opened more in the last few years so homes could be built and dreams could be materialized. Space, and imagination, was once all some citizens had; a desolate site where a small group of people made their home after noticing its fresh mountain peak winds and its broad overlooking shoulders; these were the days of the 'Portuguese.' But now Assomada is becoming limited, for like many cities it is where most people are moving to; mostly the young and the restless.
Cities grow unpredictably; one never knows which pocket of homes will one day turn into the compilation called city. It is true that you need space, or an area that can be opened for space. With this in mind Assomada will only grow only so far; it is, after all, on the top of a mountain.
And so we think of its combinations. It is a city that is in the middle of the island. It does not have a beach next to it, though the closest one is only a thirty minute ride away. The island is not that big to begin with. It is a place that one still knows every one, its identity is still in tact holding on to those days of small community living; in Assomada if you are new you too will soon be known.
Up to very recently it grew at a small rate, making sure that people knew each other and that strangers would’t be such for long. Land was bought by the Diaspora, those members from afar, or who once where far and now are near enough to buy; for most of them always planned to move back. With the dying age being pushed higher there's an increase of people who are actually living what they have worked for all their immigrant lives, their retirement. Most such persons are away in large Western cities and want some part of this sentiment to stay with them, Assomada than gives them this middle space Home and Travel, of old and new, but it also gives them the very new, the mobile, the faster, the more accessible. This is where the city now lays, between the rural idea, which is holding on tight in light of recent, and seen, events about its older brother Praia - a city whose crime level is rising, where pollution is increasing and prices are soaring, where traffic is now common and insecurity a new closing horizon - and the rural mountains of scarcity and distance, safety and common; of predictability.
Assomada can now give off some pleasures of Praia, those wanted and asked for, such as closeness, shopping stores, and differences. As a new city it is arranging itself so it may provide its members with the necessities to fulfill their much anticipated needs; they don’t have to run to Praia any more, they can now buy car and home insurance in Assomada, check and rearrange their flight plans, and get lost in the new 'modern night life', you can visit a local hospital now and not have to run to Praia, eat in small restaurants or just hang out in the local city plaza.
It’s been said that Assomada, being a city and all, is actually the safest place in the whole island. By listening to this one should not think that the island itself is unsafe, on the contrary, comparing to known countries and islands of the size Santiago is remarkably safe, but it is interesting to me that Assomada is considered safer then most smaller rural communities.
In my reflections of the city I wonder what's to happen to it, as it grows and is influenced by its older brother Praia. They are, after all, only an hour away from each other! I know that it will have to change, though I feel I would like it not to, but change is a predictble future for everything we know, so many of the aches Praia is now dealing with will in time reach its core. But for now, this place in the middle, the space where the rural and the urban meet, the place of absolute wonder and balance. This is why CICER is here, for this is a study in and off itself of what balanced community could be like. It is a place of Magic really, a place where stranger won't be such for long.

Angelo Barbosa, Musician, post-modernist! Post-Modern Musician?

A few days ago I was over Angelo’s house. We, the residents, were invited for an after lunch session. Magda, his wife, and their two sons were as inviting as any kind hearted people could be; that Cape Verdean-ness could be seen, culture, hospitability, comfort and all the rest. Their home was very modern in appearance and function, up on the west side of Praia where many middle class homes are being built. Long walk paths are on the making, ocean strolls are being encouraged; privacy is also being looked at. The way of living is changing for some residents, more apparent here in this section of modernization. It cemented the fact to me that aesthetics of the middle class tend to be the same. Karl Marx spoke eloquently on this, so I will not attempt, I will just say that it is almost bone chilling how things can be so similar yet never have come in to contact with each other. The difference here, which is more of an inward reality, is that many of these persons, new Middle residents, are actually not too ‘Middle.’ For some they bought land when land was at a cheaper rate and then saved, loaned and built their small scapes. Homes have not been bought outright as a sign of wealth, more as a small climb towards a comfortable stay, but it is in that stay that middle class values grow and groom themselves; it is the aesthetic I mentioned earlier.
Anyhow the reason why I am writing this section on Angelo Barbosa is not because of the zone where he lives (partly), but more the art that he makes. We, the residents, had a chance to hear his music, in his studio on the second floor of his home. It had been critict as not being Cape Verdean, but he says that his intention’s where always to challenge the music in the country, to do productions which are unique in some way. I could tell by his demeanor that he not only enjoyed his music making process but that he also liked His music. He had once told me how he stopped making music because of the lack of commitment musicians in the land have towards productivity and challenge. His argument mostly stood in the space of punctuality, that punctuality had incredible strength, it not only gets minds in contact when you want them contacted, but it also gets things done, sot they may be accessed, evaluated, etc… On that I told him that money in small, poor countries, creates punctuality, but that discussion is for another session.
Agelo’s music is very synthetic, it uses synthetic sounds; for he’s more tangibly, a key-boardist. In his music he uses the elements the keyboard provides, its manipulation of sounds at a push of a button. This instrument, when it first came out (not initially first, but in use) was a breakthrough, so much so that it revolutionized music in most third-world countries. It was not only an accessible instrument, with different levels of cost as compared to a piano, it could also perform multiple deeds single handedly; as well its manipulation of sounds could trigger immediate reactions, from sentimental to heuristic. In the compilation of songs he played for us this tool was mostly used. Its emphasis at times was a bit overpowering, insensitive to its surrounding elements, those of other instruments or the occasional singing voice. Still, the play with which he constructed the base for the sounds where very encouraging. He demonstrated an ear for improvisation much like jazz and blues. The deep use of convoluted patterns suggested exploration and innovation more so then arrogance and over-compilation. The rhythms were measured and well maintained, spots of disco and funk could be heard in the transitional inward conversations of the music. The strong synthetic mix of church organs and electric guitar was a fusion reminiscent of the end of disco era in the States; some of the music could have easily fit in that time. For this one asks if it is innovative or merely transposing ideas and thoughts. Possible answers may be the words of the first artist singing in the first track of the CD, when he spoke about black imprisoning and shackles the breaking of them and of the Future Man, the black man. These words recalled sixties spoken words of revolt and power, and for a person like myself, who mostly grew up in the States and who, as a spoken word poet, has listened to many such poems it places this particular song in a land already explored (one could always claim innocence of exploration though) but on another turn of scales some other voices on different tracks tried to adjust the space where this music was meant to function, the kreolu culture. I would have omitted such references, or would have worked on them more. They came of pleading for entry in a culture that is very critical of any contemporary inferences on its traditional values. On this matter Angelo should have followed his inhibitions and continued on challenging himself through out the process, but it seems he often skated with caution thinking of where he was and how he would be critict. His music is slightly premature, maturity is still some time away, but his direction is uniquely post-modern for a country which has yet to pass through its modern period.

It all comes down... and thoughts remain

June 9th

Well, the show came down yesterday. As it is I had to go to Praia, so I decided to take down the exhibition; safe another day’s trip. The space now empty reminded me of the beginning, when things started and we were the starters. The residency is at an end, the show is down, the thoughts have been exhibited and the discussions—should some have been created—are currently in dialogue. The responses have been positive, for the most part. The Creatives of the land, those who participated with us, seem to have taken what we gave. They have critict, and I am sure critict further in and amongst them. The residency has some establishment, for many of them have said that they may even take their vacations next year around this time, so they may give more time to the residency.
In discussing the promotion of the residency and the activity of it, one has to admit that it went on a positive slant. My goal with the project is to have some interactivity, some form of play and action so there are conversations, information really. There’s a part of the residency which is about education, on both parts. I like the residents to learn from this place, this visible transitions in one of our world’s lands. I always say that this place is magic. The global scope is here for us all to see, and in it we can see how information and interactivity can bring formalities to the creative process of any country. Cape Verde is small, the islands are separated from each other and even further, towns and villages are separated as well; communication happens through the grape vine, although I have to say that mobile phones are sweeping the country; texting is ever increasing and elements that were out of reach just five years ago are closer and more immediate. This too can happen with the arts, the proximity of thought and action can happen in such a place in an interesting way because of the elements mentioned above. We do art not for answers that are understood by all, sometimes it is not even understood by us who make it, but we are a means to many answers. We converse with the problems of our environments and our contributions are always a part of the conversation, as such, introductions of information are essential towards the sustainability of such answers. An overwhelming complaint I have heard since being here is the lack of support for contemporary art, and the lack of understanding by the locals. These words come from local creatives and are reminiscent of complaints on art in almost every part of the world. If this is so, we then have a kind of familiarity when it comes to the understanding of ‘art.’ Are we then not responsible for also infusing such questions in to our practices? Cape Verde should not open its ways to the ‘contemporary’ just because others have, its stubbornness is an essential ingredient in the natural process of change. Doors should not be opened only because some one is knocking, it is he who is knocking that needs to convince to person to open the door. I find that artist often feel like they are privileged, in a position of authority, that they should be a demanded part of our culture and as such entry should be granted. In the West Art history makes this argument for the contemporary artist, it tells her that she is important and that she will be listened to if she has support from those who place art objects in the forefront of cultural acclivity, but though art has depended on such sponsorships to survive as a payable practice, the artist’s role has never depended on it. She creates out of necessity, out of uneasiness and a lack of generalized language to be able to speak her position. So, the artist will always live and has always lived as its own need. In Cape Verde contemporary artist have plugged into the bug that is the ‘art establishment,’ the engine that was created outside of this country that says it (the art and artist) is important and needs listening to, but I say the artist needs to create the space to be listened to. When we relinquish our attitudes of ‘making’ out of uneasiness and ‘showing’ out of impute, when we leave our space of ‘work’ only for our work, then we have failed. We are not owed anything because we work in ways that are visual and a-part of, we are owed when we’ve brought to attention our piece of the conversation—key word here is WE, artist included—and what are we owed is time, just like all the others who are involved in the round table of culture.

The post affects...

June 6th

And so CICER-08 exhibition is done. Today Gisela and I are waking up in Abraao’s home, not really his, but rented. Great space. Incredible actually. Gisela and I were amazed to find out how much he pays for it. It is one of the reasons why he moved back he said; the prices; home close to the sea, good temperature and accessible living. Sure there’s the occasional shortage of water and electricity, but such things would be more severe if you didn’t know how to deal with it.
I should re-wind to the days before the Expozisao, explain and write about some processes and see where we are, where we’ve come from. If an exhibition is the last act of a residency, then we are done; but are we? When I last left off I was working on the sound piece, “Cidade e un Imaginacao.” I worked on it until it was done, well, as done as it would be for the purpose of exhibition and study. Gisela eventually finished her piece Sombra the day of the exhibition. Magaly had trouble shot her work the day before the exhibition. She was in Praia accessing her work place. She was looking to project onto the street at night time for the exhibition. Having done her set up the previous night she was able to relax and she actually spent the day in and about the city, while Gisela and I ran around putting our pieces in order. We drove down from Assomada earlier that day, bringing with us extra clothing, for we knew we were staying in Praia. We also brought down the sound equipment needed for my sound piece. No, none of this was provided by the museum, not sure I expected it either! Something to keep in mind for future residents, in places like Praia, or Assomada, think practical, challenge yourself on those means; challenges don’t have to be obviously technical, they can be conceptual and relatively informal.
When we arrived to the Palacio di Cultura I had an interview with a television program called Good Morning Cabo Verde. I am not sure if this was the actual name or the name of a future show the producer mentioned they would be doing. Well, this show, the one the interview was for, actually airs in the States, in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There is a high concentration of Cape Verdeans in those states and the producer travels back and forth to shoot news and events of the islands to show back in the land of Stars and Stripes; he’s a kind of news agent. A young lady interviewed me, asking questions of my practice, my heritage, my background; essentially, most questions that one would predict to be asked, but yet she touched on a closing element I must mention: Why had the kreolu language escaped me till now; in my practices? Though I answered the meaningful way, the honest way, of a mind that has been inside the English language for over twenty years now, I told her Kreolu was a language I would explore further, for there’s a reason why it is so well used in the countries music and its poems. The language’s short words and drum like sounds make for perfect poetry and it wasn’t until I did my first reading in kreolu, Praia Kenti, Assomada Fresku that I noticed that magic. I told her I would be returning to it for sure, but like any good poetry the power’s in the words, the knowing and controlling of the words would take time.
Gisela too was interviewed by this program. She improvised a piece and spoke about why she was here and where she was from. She seemed a bit shy, unsure about how the translation would go. The program is specifically in Kreolu. It did not matter how she answered back, just as long as the questions were asked in the native tongue. This is why I feel she was a bit nervous, but she pulled through and had much to say as she would later tell me.
We ended up getting everything together for the exhibition, but complaints were abundant. I am not sure how many of them are ours, the resident’s and how many are others, but I will discuss them slightly. From Abraao and Angelo position the condition of the space of was unacceptable; wholes on the walls, tape marks, faded paint, plugs which don’t work, workmen which don’t work! But, I was at ease with most of it, not sure if it was the mental notice I had previously given myself, or even that I’ve been used to setting up my own spaces and feeling that such tasks should be partly the artist’s, but I could understand the complaints, for they were just; they had merit, weight. The pressure lays on the director, who at one point came in to see how things were progressing and was upset with his staff for not telling him about ‘things’ that need fixing were mentioned to him. He expressed this anger in front of me and Abraao, but all such disciplines fall on him; he is, after all, the director of the building. Complaints would later come from other seasoned artist, those who too have dealt with this space. They critict over the decay which is currently happening with the site, how is it that is was refurbished less then ten years ago and now ninety percent of the electrical fixtures in the exhibition halls don’t work, along with the lighting in one of the small showing rooms? I too saw these complaints. The lack of institutional infrastructure is clearly evident if one just takes a few days to notice it. The person in charge of exhibition help left early that day and did not return until mid-afternoon; nice young guy, but on a day of exhibition, he should have been there all day, well into the night; but who’s job was it to make sure he was there? Exactly, the directors! I had to buy extension cords and our refreshments for the event, these are things that I will look to have sponsored in the future, but the institution should have a better handle on the situation that arise; the place really is decaying.
The exhibition went well and was well received. We had a good amount of people, from students, to locals, to professionals, but for the level of the event and for the place where it was held, again, complaints falls on the institution. Cesar, as invited guest on the Abraao’s show, 180degrees, commented in this lack of support for contemporary art. He said that had it been some traditionally bases artist, with age, known, and familiar, that the response would have been different. The argument can follow that line of thought, but contemporary art also needs to win audiences, much like those traditionalists did. I support the argument made only so far as there weren’t any persons of the director’s stature, and position, who came, all the ones that came were friends we made, person we’ve engaged or who have been receptive to our residency. This is thanks mostly to Angelo, a person I said is like a supporting patron, for he forwards these contemporary concerns which are full of critical evaluation and dialogue. So, in this respect of peer audiences the institution being the oldest peer did not represent itself; Cesar’s critic is right on. These conversations would later continue at Comet; the after hangout for most people in this side of Praia, and the place with one of the best hamburgers I have ever eaten: a hamburger patty, a fried egg, french-fries, mayo, ketchup in a soft bun with a hard shell, crazy good.
My parents came, father included, this was really positive. They participated having come all the way from Assomada; no hesitation and no complaints. They were in the space they help to create, with support and guidance. Much love.
The exhibition, as we the residents could tell, was a success. Magaly broke ground with her projection on the asphalt street in front of the Palacio di Cultura. Not sure if she had it in mind, but the idea was actually first generated by Abraao. He had once mentioned how interesting it would be to have a compilation of shots, of works from different artists, project on a building over looking the beach, and though this is not new in most parts of the West, it is some what new here. In and off themselves such projections are always new. The way they become architectural and how they visual disrupt the landscape is something that has high level of dependency on where it is actually done. Magaly project a ship which is wrecked in the shores of Praia. She taped it and projected it as is on the street below. Gisela’s piece was also projected, but inside the exhibition space. Thought it was fitting I know she wanted her projections with sound, but seeing as my sound piece was on the same site, she could only hear hers on headphones; some people took the time to hear it, others did not, but as an image, it was strong. Abraao’s work garnered much attention. Capturing Gisela’s movements in abstracted sequences was interesting for those who studied it; there was much to look at, from gradations of blacks and whites to actual physical movements captured in stills. Magaly’s photo manipulations were also a success, they were familiar scenes and objects and their play was accessible; people could relate; such combinations always make for crowed pleasers. My piece was again one of those which had people sounding out phrases. The sounds merged into each other at times, but at others they had to act on their own. Some people paused and listened, focusing on the whole sentence of each speaker; sound work here is new, sound work as art that is, this is why I felt it important; breaking in a dimension of thought and possibilities was part of my program. Words are powerful and they can have a lasting sting, repetition often guides this and utilizing such strengths here in the island would be a strong social and artistic study for artists.
Contemporary exhibitions here are said to be the opening night only, this may be true; follow up views are very rare The residents and I were thinking of taking the show down today, instead of leaving it up until closing time Monday. If it weren’t for the technical side of the pieces the show could stay up, but Gisela’s projection was only for one day, so was Magaly’s, the projectors need to be returned today. I am scared to leave my sound piece equipment in the space. Yesterday night I actually took it all down and placed it in a back room; not sure if I could do that every night! Will see how the thought progresses, it may be that it comes down today!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

construction and de-construction, construction!

June 2nd

Currently sitting inside the studios of Raiz Di Polon. Gisela has been given access to the space should she choose to use it for trainings of any sort. I am here with her and she is doing just that, practicing. Had a bite to eat across the street at a restaurant/bar, more like a bar, for there was limited food for consumption. In there I met a fellow that I had previously come across at the opening of Texturas Da Cidade. I was introduced to him by Angelo. He is from Brazil, a percussionist. That day of the performance he played in a concert that Gisela and Magaly went to, today he was getting a quick espresso, needed a lift up he said. He mentioned having some gigs towards the end of the week. He will play at the Quintal Di Musica; the hot spot for young music talent, young and old really. I told him that after our exhibition this Friday, Assomada to Praia, Direitu, we will swing through and watch him perform. He reminded me of how having a child really changes you. He has a one month and half old son. His life was one of carelessness and ignorance, drumming the beats of improvisation in a city that appreciates this and encourages it, but now he has to be more serious, pay checks now have to come in, and the future is now more calculated.
I was interviewed today by the Semana, a city journal that has a weekly culture section on anything and most things cultural. The meeting went good, but one never knows until the publication as passed printing and is directly in front of one’s eyes. She asked the usual questions, of my practice, the residency, my Cape Verdean background and my aspirations and my thoughts on the art scene in Cape Verde. I need not go into such answers for they have been covered by this blog, and will continue to be covered. Have to say though that we have been treated well, more then well, for a Diaspora child to come home, his true cultural home, and feel welcomed, well, it’s a blessing. We are gearing up for our show, CICER 08, let’s punch it good I say

June 4th

Really gearing up for this exhibition, tried to talk Angelo in to the exhibition but he placed the lack of heart in the discussion, what he meant was that his heart and critical engagement would not be were he would want it to be, so time was best. He asked that we consider this collaboration next year, where he feels he’ll be more apt for such a task. We had recently spoken about how all he needed to do was bring his work space in to the gallery; exhibit it as shown; his desk and all its contents. I see his creative practice as more personal; he blogs with his friends and colleagues, placing small snippets of interest in the everyday cultural conversations of the city. I found this to be a good insight into the spaces of creativity now being developed. It’s a good example of how his chosen creative dialogue utilizes artistic methods but re-adjusts the idea of the Role of the artist. He utilizes images, shapes and sounds, humor and artifice reminiscent of early performance art work in New York city, just without the self mutilation. He does not claim to be a fine artist, nor is what he’s doing fine arts, but it is creative and in a space where he Role will soon be omitted the Fine Artist will soon find himself no longer existing.
Today was my first work day; working on a sound piece. I pretty much stayed over my computer, reading and editing. I have written an abstract on the themes of the exhibition and small bios to accompany the program. Would be great to have a catalogue, but figure best to document this process good, in time a catalogue may come out of it. I would want such documentations, even if late, so I may place it in libraries, such as the one here in Praia, the public library in London, my old university library, even extending it to the States and other parts of Europe. I will use the residents that come to the residency to establish a connecting web of documentation; as they leave they will look to place such information in places of information where they live. Gisela too is off working and exhausting herself over what she will exhibit. So far it seems to be a video. She is also thinking of performing, but this may be more then is needed. She has a shoot tomorrow for Abraao’s work and then she has to edit some sound work for her video. Magaly seems to be in coasting mood. She’s refining the last strands of her work, while helping Gisela figure out the tech side of hers. There may be projections that day, will see. Below is a small blurb on the exhibition make up:

And so are the conversations presented to us today that say we are speaking of something globally familiar. Gisela Creus’ work fixates on to us the person of person, the role of the shadow as a convoluted reflection of the Self. With her studies of the Self, she questions positions of foreignness and identification. She contextualizes herself as Other by de-contextualizing her walking partner, seen only when light is shed on her. Literal light then becomes a metaphor for understanding self; placing herself where ignorance is no longer justified; she has entered the space of the gaze. But are justifications not a play of sounds, of thoughts and quiet hums, where such hums often bounce into loud and interrupting levels; where it seeks to be justified. Antonio Rocha’s work emphasizes the thought of modernity’s interruption by simplifying it into repetitive phrases that ask of its value. The work becomes anything but answers to the questions they may pose, but more like loud thoughts in search of answers. Abraao Vincent’s conversations could also be in thought, fragmentation not only distracts communication it also emphasizes thought. If movement is a sequence of uninterrupted thoughts then how can we interrupt the sequential need for narration—possibly by splicing the conversations and abstracting the narrative? His interruptions of movement in his photo montages speak not only about the need for periods of thought, but also for space and un-recollective narratives. The artifice of narrative, should one choose this case, can best be seen in Magaly Ponce’s work, where collective imagery responds to personal whim and listens to creative composites of thought. Ponce’s work transplants and transposes the changes she has gone through in the country by amalgamating images into postcards scenes. The images themselves are inherently fiction, yet they remain absolutely real. She asks, what is it that is really fixed in this emerging and submerging Kreolu culture.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Some more images...

The Three!
Photo by Isabela

Assomada At Night
Photo by Antonio

Next Door Little Girl
Photo by Gisela

Exhbition Day, Texturas Di Cidade
Photo By Antonio
Amilcar Cabral
From a picture at the Fundacao Di Amilcar Cabral
Photo By Antonio
Angelo Barbosa, Assistant Director of UNICV
Photo By Antonio

Gisela at Palacio Di Cultura
Photo By Antonio

Antonio At Palacio Di Cultura
Photo By Gisela

SOS Village in Assomada
Mural of SOS sites in the World
Photo By Antonio

Something weird, and Alive, in the water!!!
Photo by Antonio

Running to the finish line and just noticed the biginning!

May 30th

Back in Praia for the day, picked up my father's Nissan truck and headed out with the residents. Drove down and picked up some people on the way, the polite thing to do. When we got to Praia we went straight to the Palacio Di Cultura. There we met with Jose-Maria, who assisted us with setting up the day for the exhibition, and further then we thought, is also assisting the residency by plugging us in with announcements and interviews. I will be interviewed this coming Monday; big ups for the promotion and forwarding of the residency. The room we will occupy for the exhibition will be in the second floor, two rooms, one small and one large. There we will look to fill all three pieces of work. As of now they seem to be Magaly’s Photoshop, postcard images, Gisela’s performance piece and my sound piece. As it also stands I look to include more work, invitations have been put out for more work which accentuates the critical conversations on art and Cape Verde. I placed this call to Agelo, seeing as he is a Cape Verdean Creative. He feels his position is one of music but I told him that we want work that is of a creative capacity, and he can offer this. With our conversations on critical work in the country and where we feel such works are most needed, I said it would be a shame if he let this opportunity pass. How challenging this would be, for he, who has also been feeling and thinking of the same things, to place such work forward; for discussion mostly. We will see! I will also be placing this call to Abraao and possibly others, but keeping in mind that it is short notice and simplicity may be best. Again, will see!
Gisela and I later rehearsed a highly improvised piece for the exhibition later that night, Texturas Da Cidade. We followed this up with a sit down for some sandes and some pastries. We spoke about may things as we have when alone; positions of lover and residents, professionalism and space, attention and need; essentially conversations that stretch within the frameworks of a working relationship. This is yet another test of how we relate, how we should understand our works, those that both function in creative fields. Still, though this, as I see, we are working together, even collaborating; a chance we did not have before.
The exhibition later that day was positive. We, Gisela and I, did out performance piece to great applauses. We could not have asked for more. We chose to perform a collaborative process. I say process for it was this up until the end. We both favored a kind of improvisation, even though we had run though an idea of it in the space. I had written a piece about the city and characterizations; persons lost in it, evaluating themselves in it and reaching a position of death through apprehension. I wrote in both kreole and English the stanzas were broken in three and the oration were fast and loud, but not too loud. We both wore black, signifying a death of sorts. We started the piece by interrupting the space of the viewers. Gisela sat on the floor and I sat on top of her, rising up to sounds of Praia is hot, Praia Straight, Praia e kenti, Praia Direito. I then made my way to a corner behind a metal stand, and from there I read the spoken work poem. Gisela, upon my reaching the first words on the page, reacted and created a slightly improvised dance, feeding off of what we had spoken about, the meaning of the words on the page. The process felt illuminating. I could not see most of her dance as I was reading; this is the reason for my limited description of her movements and presence. I will look at some form of the event later through Magaly’s documentation later and see how she reacted to the space. The rest of the exhibition I will speak on further through a separate critic I will write. I can now only say that it did not reach the level of engagement that it proclaimed to have done. The works presented were interesting as far as they each had a language particular to an artist, but what was missing was the particularity to the theme. As of the crowed it was a small positive crowed; the usual suspects. I wonder what Angelo’s critic will be, seeing as his main point of contention is how exclusive most events of the such are.

An excerpt from the poem Praia Kenti, Assomada Fresku:

Inka ta podi meshi, poisoned fissures growing inside, di mundu suju, kuru, rudimentary finds, rua duru, comida inta paga, strada, wrota quote in boxed corners, danger happens, afrenti di ora nova, simplicidade ta dizaparesi, it is he who I was, paranoid, deishun in pas, ta anda na rua shuju, who you, wonder who you think you are, karu ta passa ta pedi pun sai di kaminho, bestido dreto, hey you I ask, history did not start yesterday, infinity either, e bo, nha vida ka di oji, nha storia ka di manha, paranoia es kre atakun.

Di tudu nta kori, luring from my story, ka ta kre mori, but time is hissing, like smoke sounds in Indian autumns, sima sangue di porku ta tinta pedra mar, even the way love will never be defined, mi bu kata achun na meio di moderno, na meio di inferno. What breaks the wind current from sweeping the brown from the grass, ki ta pega morti frenti di kasa seku, that hides the poverty in sweeping cells of tourism, Frenti di mi jung oja kel tempo, where sharks feed on bated salt waters, na undi ideas ta bendedu sima grogu na kotelu, where afro hairs are faded in memory of old pictures. Pashensha

Oh but life turns and always whispers our future, e ta kanta na ruas Verdi undi sandalnhas ka teni medo, where sugar canes wait you at the door, ripe of taste, cured by fate, nos futuru e un rua simples, returns of everything locomote the train for they do not work, porkaria di modernidade sufrimento soundavel, synchronization wishing fast paced elimination e nos, nu ta salta korda di tempo melhor sopa oja tempo sen kor.

I must rewind a bit, for earlier, before the exhibition, we actually went to Abraao’s home, and studio. There we saw his works, both current and passed. We left the space knowing and feeling that conversations had to be had. We would have to sit with more time and discuss the works. Off hand I saw a lot of reference to a famous young New York artist who died very young, a black figure in the eighties whose works were full of coded languages. Abraao´s works from a distance are works that seem to be in a space of exploration, these positions are reinforced by him; commitment at this moment is something he is not ready to give. I find it to be the best position to be in for a person like him. His involvements in the cultural milieu of Sao Tiago will enforce a language that he is only touching at in this moment. Cementing anything now may complicate an already complicated collection of works.

May 31st

I need to continue to write on yesterday and further more on today. Both days have been active. Yesterday’s continuation resumes with an interview I had with Abraao on his show, 180degrees. The show airs on Friday nights at ten pm on Television Cape Verde. The program seems to be a popular one, this comes with limited surprise, for there aren’t many things aside from the news and novellas on that station. Abraao’s show is a break of tradition, it spaces itself afar by utilizing young persons of cultural interest and asking them to comment and create discourse over the issues that he has a strong hand in bringing up. They can vary in many different directions, but politics are usually central and the ending segments usually include some cultural person. On this day I was that cultural end, brought in to speak about the residency and comment on the arts in the city of Praia. I had only about ten minutes but it ran with the speed of television. I barely had the time to adjust when I was asked to voice an opinion of criticism over the traditional practices and institutions of art in the city. I admit I cautioned in this response for I feel for the residency I need to have connection and support, something that can easily fade in the quarters of attitude, hurt somebody’s feelings and you may be casted ashore. I liked Abraao’s push for critic, it is something I too would push for, but I have learned that working from the inside is a more lasting change, from the outside one, in time, just ends up making noise. I would later find out that my parents watched it, and others, but my mother told me that she could see the slight hint of caution in my responses; it is not as if I was hiding it. Great that she received some calls from her friends congratulating her on her son’s achievements. She deserves it. On we went to the after meets.

We gathered at Comet, the hit place in Praia for those who know that to be seen is to exist, the hang out of the young intellectuals and professionals. There I met with Cesar and another artist whose name escapes me now. It is a name I should get shortly and plant in my memory box, for he too is a young Creative; an architect. In our conversation Cesar continued to place weight on the exhibition he curated. He spoke about its importance and how relevant it was, that it spoke of the Now, and if so, that by just that effort it should be significant. For him the transitory period of city life in Sao Tiago is noted in the exhibition and as such it should be valued and valuated with such respects. It is true that the curator has to work an exhibition’s dialogue outside the space of the exhibition as well, but we should be weary when such talks are happening at levels louder then the exhibition. This is what I felt; but again, I will be writing a stint on this exhibition shortly and will have its full critic. Another topic which arose was more significant in thought, that of documentation in the city, with regards to exhibitions and Happenings. I understood from them that there were none, at which point I suggested they build one. Cesar and the other artist confused over the issue and even relegated such tasks to others, but I pushed the attitude that it was all our works and efforts that would go down untold, if something weren’t done. I suggested that the first form of tangible space they should look to occupy is the public library, that by it being public—and authoritative when it comes to public knowledge—that they should place their objects of information there. That a petition should be carried forward so that a section of the humanities department in the library is devoted to the documentation of contemporary art. That they, themselves, should be the providers of this documentation, that in just ten years a catalogue of events could be compiled that would feed and grow the process of cultural dialogue, and that their attitude towards the country, that of feeling that everything always goes back to zero, would be turned; persons would now have a place to study, to assess the previous creative comments and build from them. I told them that documentation should be done and gathered by persons who have the ability to write, both critically and creatively, for it would be this type of writing that would allow for future shows—which build on previous shows—to be more critical and daring. In time the rest of the crew came, the residents, Agelo, Baluka, Abraao, etc… we finished with a long extended ride home; I say extended for one of the residents inquired about the need to finish a residency physically (her physically needing to be there) if the work for the residency was already done. This question came because the resident wanted to know if it was poignant to wait for the final exhibition, seeing as her work was already done, and to her that was the purpose of the residency (CICER-08 exhibition, Assomada to Praia, Diretu). I explained that a residency exhibition not only brings the works of the residents together, but the residents themselves. It brings them in to a space of evaluation and critic, a space where anyone can access them and ask of their thoughts of/in the residency/country; the works can not do this alone. I asked the resident what residency programs just ask for residents to make work and not participate in some ending process? The conversation left me bitter, more aware of the attitudes of individuals and it made me cautious, again, at what type of access of am giving out, how does appreciation get seen, through what lens, by what efforts, by what direction? But it also made me think of time, how time may function differently for many people, especially if you miss home.

June 1st
Continuing on to yesterday, seems I am always a day behind, but reflections are good after some time. We were reminded of donations we had promised a school teacher we would give. This was in Gisela’s birthday. She is a friend of my mothers and on that day we had told her we would go to the school and donate some footballs. The footballs were a collection of about ninety balls that were donated through a call out process of asking friends for donations, so that I and Gisela may bring something to the kids of Sao Tiago. The call out was well received seeing as I only expected to bring about twenty balls or so. We went to the local primary school and many of the kids were there. Yesterday, Saturday, was the day they chose to celebrate national kids day, June 1st. It was an incredible sight, all these kids hanging out, playing, and being feed, drinking and dressed for a day of festivities. We, Gisela my mother and I, sat down in the teacher’s room, looking at all of the kids taking a lunch break. She gave us some Feijuada and then some cake. The kids looked on to us with gawking eyes, mostly at Gisela. Her pale skin, long black hair and small features are things mostly seen on television, though there are such person that pass by Assomada, most of them are not that close, close enough so that those very features of difference can be seen and studied. We ate and then were introduced to the Head Teacher. We presented the gifts to him and understood that it would be best that the school take the donations, instead of individual kids. We’ve had lessons here with these balls, new things are often seen as prizes not to be touched, worse even they are seen as elements of jealousy. We’ve had to be careful how to hand them out, not for our sake, but more for the recipient of the gift. If it is a small child we have to worry that older kids will take it from her, if they are a group we have to be careful who holds and secures it, usually a grown up. On this day we handed them out the correct way, the way the balls would be best utilized. It has been a slight accent to the way I advertised I would hand them out, but it is the decision that was best for the moment.
Gisela and I later met Beto and his wife, we were doing so for a lunch meeting we had planned earlier, but after the Feijuada our belies were full, coffee and some conversation was all we could muster. Here we met another American, much like Magaly; somewhat like her, he was ‘authentic.’ He was from Virginia and his name is Nick. He is in Assomada as a volunteer worker for the Peace Core. He went to Virginia Tech and studied engineering and alternative building practices. He was here working at the local Technical school. He came off as a very caring guy. We spoke Kreolu and bantered slightly with English, for me it was good to see an American accent on this language I grew up with. He’s a tall guy, blond and very open. He took Gisela and I, Beto and his wife and daughter, to go see the Feijuada, he and some of his students cooked, using a solar oven made out of cardboard, aluminum foil and a glass plate, even some recycled journals for insulation. It was ridiculously incredible how something so simple could go a long way. Yet these are the lessons of a greener world, reality is that simplicity has always been available, but capitalism re-simplifies simplicity and sells it. The product this young man showed us was explained further by one of his students, and there is where one was able to see how easily this world could change, for it could be as simple as that interaction. Along with this product we were shown a water heating system that used broken and discarded glass bottles to heat up water, by placing an elongated tube through it; again the sun to the rescue. All-in-all the presence of this kid was positive. Young men and women who volunteer on a dream and hope, that beyond their countries they can affect change most rapidly, all-the-while the big elephant continues on roaming in the park, stubborn to the changes happening right under its trunk; good all United States. I’ve always said it, that there are two types of Americans. Often in Europe I get hear slack about the States, its politics, its peoples, its history and future. I tell such persons, when they are worth the conversation, that America has always been made up to two citizens; the capitalist sterotype

Thursday, May 29, 2008

As long as it's recognized, that's always been the plight

May 28th

Yesterday Gisela did her workshop for the Cape Verdean Capoeira Association. We met them at the usual spot, that of the local Assomada high school. We were received with nervous enthusiasm. I say we for I had to accompany Gisela as interpreter. To do her workshop she needed to send out instructions and I was there to relay them. Master Beto was there ready and willing to participate full heartedly. We had about ten to twelve kids (some came in late) and they were all fully involved. They understood, or were made to understand that such classes in the West cost quite of bit of money, but more so, that someone different was providing something different, and whenever such opportunities in life appear pay attention. Difference in the monotonous is like water in a desert; a quick motivator of change. She did some warm ups and floor exercises, she then moved to some sequences. When asked the students were pleased with the activities, they found it challenging, an addition to their everyday though more subtle and complete, as far as body moving is concerned. They were mostly intrigued by how smooth Gisela moved the ease with which she was able to show the techniques, this by relation to how hard the moves actually were, after they attempted them. They understood the precisions and methods the body has to understand to be able to communicate ideas without words. Something familiar to the activities they are currently in. They were made to take in to account various possibilities, variations on conversations/communications. We ended up by going into the capoeira circle and improvising with the movements they knew and the ones they had just practiced.
We left with high levels of appreciation, from them and us. Beto thanked us and invited us again. One of the students also invited us back, asking Gisela to challenge herself by using only capoeira music the next time.

May 29th

With no time yesterday to finish my writing I have to continue today. The sun is shinning again, like Marley said, and music is sweet. There is some Morna playing in the background. Have not had my tea yet, so the breath is still hot; no one should get too close. Back to yesterday. We pretty much spent the day in Praia; the hot city of Praia. We went this time for some errands. We each had them, but started the day with a common one. We went to meet Cesar Cardoso, the organizer of the exhibition, Texturas Da Cidade. The event will be taking place this Friday the 30th at the Fundacao di Amilcar Cabral. Cesar is a amiable person, a young Cape Verdean intellectual who is also a photographer, and as far as I can assess he is does well in his craft. We went to the space to view it prior to our bit in the exhibition. Magaly will be putting on one of her videos in a sectioned are of the building, and Gisela and I will be doing a collaboration performance piece, with voices and dance. While there we got into a slightly heated discussion about one’s position on improvisation and professionalism. I argued the fact that improvisation does not mean you have not taken the time to know the piece you will deliver, the space you will activate, or the crowd you will intercept, it means more that you will rely on past information, relative to the activity you are looking to do and look to activate yourself as you activate the viewers. Magaly’s position was one of responsibility and study, precision and as much accuracy as one can achieve, the constant movement toward increasing your knowledge and information of your work is important and as such in almost all times time and study should be respected; I think now we were taking similar positions, just not seeing them clear though method. The conversation went on for a small chunk of time, with both Cesar and Gisela looking on with slight hints as to which side they may be leaning on, but all good things come to an end. Cesar interrupted us positively and said that our discussion was missing a component, that of its relationship to the medium. That was it, we moved on. Magaly and I later would laugh at how savvy his interruption was, and how he was able to get us back into focus; so we could move on.

Continuing on with yesterday: A day of conversation and critic. Magaly was able to go and view the water plant which supplies ninety five percent of the water to Praia, Gisela and I went for a walk. Earlier that day we wended up with yet another heated discussion. This time it had much to do with the University of Cape Verde and the Residency. Magaly, to my surprise, asked me if I see the residency working with the University, she asked me this right in front of Angelo, the assistant director of the University. This took me back some as Magaly knows how I feel about such partnerships, and to place me in such a position came off a bit testy. I can’t say I appreciated it. I first told Magaly that I was not sure this was conversation for this time. In thought she could have asked me this at any other time, outside the space of the university, if she truly wanted to know my position, but I think she saw herself as an educator and Angelo too, so she sided her herself. I told Angelo that I was planning to have this discussion with him at another point, a point that we could speak as friends, art colleagues, for my position of higher education institutions have always been bitter, of the bad taste kind. After telling him this I did not step back from the questions initially posed by Magaly. I told them I see positive relationships happening with the university and was absolutely appreciative with the attention and welcome we had received thus far, but I also mentioned that such attentions were partly motivated my the relationship the University of CV had with Magaly’s University of Bridgewater State. I also mentioned how the relationship we had thus far established was character based, meaning they came also from a person like Angelo, who is interested in the arts and the critical discourse that is needed in the island. His personality is automatically one that would embrace this residency and as such I can’t place full judgment on the relationship we’ve had with the University sonly on the University; the university also sits as another entity. The residency needs to be as spread as possible, for the Arts touch many facets of a country and the university does not. We argued, essentially, Magaly and I, over the role of Institutions like Brown University in Providence RI, US; their affectability in the city and what roles they should have, their presence and to whom they present. I could go on a small paper on this conversation, but this is a journal of accounts; for the most part. I will say that, again, my position is one of responsibility and awareness, Magaly’s feeling are that such a University as Brown is a leader in outreach and inclusivity; hard to bite seeing how much they charge per class! Again we had a needed interruption, one that eased this conversation into another space. Angelo mentioned that we are yet again not taking into account a component; that Universities, all of them, are businesses and as such it has this as its first priority.
Later that day we got yet another point of critical discussion, when we met Abraau for drinks in the western part of Praia. He had not been able to meet us earlier. He spent most of his day preparing for his weekly shoots. We spoke about Reis di Polon. Some of the views that came from Abraau and Angelo were that they had become stagnant; a certain level of achievement had left them creatively impotent, unable to look back at their work and reflect, motivate, push, assess, reconfigure. This thought was with the understanding that they still had the creative capacity and ability to continue their creative climb. Gisele said how she thought Manu was almost a genius, with how he has incorporated theatre in dance; the current conversation in contemporary dance. His methods of prop making, a gadget man of sorts, were also noted by Abraau. I wondered if an infusion of different choreographers into the company would help. Having different persons make pieces for the company would raise many levels of critic. This would raise the level of technique in the dancers, something they themselves feel they lack, and such studies would confront Manu, making him have to deal with new activities; a creative method of responding. This too we will see. I am interested in continuing our conversation, Manu and I. I will see how receptive he is to this information. I have to thread simply as, once put by Gisela, the man could be bordering genius.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Images of the residents

Me in the back of a Hilux truck, the small mechanical animals of the mountains which hover over anything with a hint of road. Here we are on the way to Calheta, a North-East sea shore
Photo: Gisela Creus

Gisela on top of the small mountain of Assomada, overlooking Engenio
Photo by: Antonio Rocha

Magaly on the word's vista, brazing the Assomada winds
Photo: Antonio Rocha

Magaly in Praia's international Airport, the day of her arrival, 12:30 in the morning.
Photo: Antonio Rocha

Gisela on the roof of the Residency home, overlooking the mountains of Cape Verde. CICIER is located in Ciao do Santos in Assomada
Photo: Antonio Rocha

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Is it an ease, or familiarity?

May 23

For the past two day or so we have had bad stomachs. We ate something bad, maybe some pork, or the yucca, not sure, at some point we even thought it was a virus, but it must have been the food. I say we to include most people in the house, my mother, father, Gisela and myself. Magaly did not get sick, due to her not eating what we all are. Strangely though my cousin visiting from Sao Tome did not get sick either, and she ate exactly what we ate. For me this sickness included vomiting and, well, the runs, for some it was only one of the two. Gisela had difficulties during the night, for her the vomiting struck late, while trying to sleep, where for me it struck during the evening and by night time I had gotten rid of what ever poison disrupted the natural equilibrium of my belly. We are better, but it is always a reminder that being in a foreign country has it moments of cleanliness, well, that is what I call it; a moment of purity.
Yesterday was the day of our presentation at the UCV. Gisela was not able to attend. She was not feeling well enough to travel to Praia, but I had to go. I noticed while driving there, that I was running of two pieces of bread for the entire day; strange how the body sometimes can be poised in its cleaning process; never did I feel hungry and now that I think of it I wasn’t really weak either. The meeting went well. Magaly had been there already, having chosen to go to Praia earlier that day to connect to the internet and get some work done. Partly I think it was her wanting to escape the small city of Assomada. She went to Praia for there in the such an expansive space was familiarity, the ability to get lost, to be busy and not think or have time to think of the prisms that Assomada forwards; this with relationship to reality of poverty, time, sorrow, etc, but these are speculations. I am sure if she could she would stay down there, where access is more the type she is used to, but why then leave a country to reside in a foreign space if not to access the truth of that space, maybe that is it, I wonder if, now a days, people who reside in First World countries are interested in the truth of another country, or city, or town? Not sure!
The presentation had a good showing. I described it to Gisela yesterday as there being three groups of people in attendance. We had the established Quo, those who make more traditional works, who run most publicly funded spaces of exhibitions and cultural production, the likes of Jose-Maria, director of Palacio Di Cultura. We then had a second group, and they were the distraught artist and intellectuals, who don’t care for such traditions if it’s not critical and encouraging concepts of the Now. They are most likely the ones who have traveled and experienced art and artist in a different way and feel that those ways should become visible works here in the island. The third groups were the young teenage artists who are mentored by the first group. They are the ones who have spaces in Palacio Di Cultura, where they practice and speak of traditional practices and materials in art. They are the ones who most likely speak about art history, whereas contemporary discussions are most often only accented. All three groups are important for they demonstrate the planes of activity currently working in Praia. In my talk yesterday, after hearing critics of the second group about the first group, I forwarded a though for debate and discussion; hoping someone in time may approach me on it. I asked that Praia be looked at in its own content, often in need separation from Western contexts, that it be looked at as a city that is going through its modernity. If so most artists would respond to it as such, in a modern way, making work relative to a city which is in that process. Seeing that we are in a global world, of access and mobility, there are some who have traveled and experienced post-modern works and as such expect a higher level of critical work to be done. This dual state is interesting and actually need each other. To omit one in to place the arts here in grave danger, for it would be silencing and Truth.
Magaly and I met people and have set up some workshops. We’ve been invited to participate in an exhibition being done by the second group mentioned above and we have been given open access to the spaces that the traditionalist house. All in all it has been a great experience. The residency was taken well and participation looks to be in play.

Why Assomada?

May 23rd

Went to Praia today, again, not saying it out of un-welcomed repetition, just out of a frequency which needs to be noticed. Today’s journey was mostly motivated by Gisela. She was invited to do a small training session with Reis di Polon, a contemporary dance group in Praia. They have been going for the past fifteen years and are the only known dance group of this genre in the island, as such they are unique and need special noting. I will speak more on them towards the end of this entry. My mother and cousin, who’s visiting from Sao Tiago came along, and she brought her beautiful four month old daughter Eduarda. The day was hot so we first stop for some cold water. I grabbed a coke, cold and refreshing just like the commercials. I noticed it didn’t have an ingredients list on it, no surprise there; maybe they feel not enough people read such things to warrant printing prices. My mother and cousin went on their errands and I went to the university, where wi-fi was in play and I could get most of my internet work done. I signed up for a new blog,, that’s where I will look to house most of these journalistic accounts, among other places. I figured it would be good to transmit these words, these processes of adjustment and goal. While at UCV I saw Angelo again, said what’s up and touched on yesterday’s meet; we continue on good vibes. He introduced me to a film maker, also Cape Verdean, but residing in LA. He did a recent film, a journey of sorts through the different islands of Cape Verde asking the question of what is Cape Verdianess or Cape Verdianity; Caboverdianidade. We are meant to meet this Sunday for a spell and by then I hope to have locked in his name; so bad I am with such things.
I introduced my mother to Angelo after she met up with me in Restaurant Di Sofia, the intellectual hangout for politics, social critics, high gossip and other stuff. While there eating a piece of cake we also ran in to Abraao the artist/presenter and my mother began to mention how we were somewhat relatives. This activity is an interesting one, the act of chasing down a family line, a cultural lime of proximity, where the space of foreign can be dismantled and the familiar becomes the remaining resonance. Through it I think we found out that we are great second cousins or half orphans of a third kind; not sure yet! He was in a hurry and later that night I came to find out why; he had his television talk show to gear up for; the name of the show also escapes me now! So many escapes! My self, mother and cousin, and little second cousin, went out to eat and then made out way to see Gisela and the studios of Reis Di Polon. We were slightly invited to a special performance by the group’s leader, Manu Preto. I say slightly because the invitation was for Gisela, but she then invited me, and I then invited my cousin and mother, but we were welcomed the Cape Verdean way, with open arms. For my mother it was something she always wanted. She would later say that two great things happen to her recently, one was the special Batuke session that was presented just for her, in her home; commemorating her twenty five year marriage anniversary; when one takes in to account that they have actually been together for almost twice as long, well, it is truly a landmark occasion for sure. The other great experience she has recently felt was this special, personal, performance by a group she has admired for a long time. It is here that you realize that as accessible as these types of groups are, there are many who have never personally encountered them. The groups become these mists which hover over one’s head, and you never realized that it is actually within arms reach. For foreigners, visitors, or such, these are the first things we try to access, maybe time gives us this reason, being that we are away from our everyday, or it could be that we feel that that’s where the culture really is, in its special groups and their productivities. In the West we’ve learned to only act on what has traversed the spaces of the everyday, architectures that stand out, musical landscapes that have been promoted to special heights, art that has been deemed particular and important; such historisized events are what we get used to seeking when we travel and so we usually access these spaces that local citizens have only heard off. This occurrence can happen in many places, but it strikes me here in Sao Tiago for the island is a small place and the a site of cultural production like the studios of Reis di Polon is extremely accessible; more so then any contemporary studio of such stature in the West would ever be.
We had a special showing of a solo by the lead choreographer, Manu. It lasted about fifteen minutes and was completely engulfing. There were make shift props suggestive of fishing rods, chairs, sail boats, metaphorical ships, volcanic rocks, oversized books expressive of literature and knowledge and it the midst of all this was Manu, a capturing figure with his afro ad high hair line, it reminded me of mad scientist sparse hairs when they work in a lab, such stereotypes work when it comes to memory. He is not a large figure and not young either, but he still moves with the same meaning and gestures I am sure he expressed when he was young. I will speak more about the piece on a separate paper I look to do on his solo. I will say now that we spoke about it for a short period of time and in that time I mentioned wanting to talk to him more.
On our way back Gisela and I talked about levels of critic and how, or when, are they appropriate. We both felt some critic could be given to the solo we experienced and wondered if such critics are welcomed, after all we are here partly for that, to engage such spaces and make them unsteady so as to further them. But for this performance we were invited, and critic is valuable only when given permission or when asked for, for closed ears hears no wrong. Gisela, in her experience with the company today, felt a bit intimidated by the stiff bodies she first experienced, the man were all very muscular, all with dreads and were all very serious; such a beautiful image she said, one used surely purposeful by the Manu, the choreographer. What she first thought were arrogant attitudes from professional dancers not wanting to give merit to a white Euro minded dancer/choreographer, soon subsided as their stiffness was more of nerves then of any kind of superiority complex. She found some of them to be very strong dancers physically and others slightly less. She showed then some amalgamated movements from her favorite choreographers and dance genres, and it was received well she tells me. Some told her that they have limited technical experience and this is where they would like to strengthen themselves. I asked Gisela how some of them would benefit from a stint in NunArt Residency in Barcelona, where most participants are contemporary dancers, and she said some would take great advantage others she wasn’t very sure; attitudes would have to change so such opportunities could be taken in greatly. She will be doing some more workshops there next week, where I will also be meeting with Manu for extended talks.

May 25th

Yesterday was Gisela’s birthday. She is not only a resident but my partner; if this hasn’t been said yet then let it be said. The every day crew of the house hung out in the third floor of the house, with a kind of barbeque, an incredibly delicious cake, and some sangria; specially made by the honored guest. Gisela took it all in stride, it positive vibe for sure. We had guests: a television presenter/artist, a mentor/capoeira teacher, a director of a day care and a teacher of primary school and a nurse; at some point and through some points they all passed and shared this day with us.
Later in the day we stepped out. My cousin Beto who came up from Engenio—an actor who works part time as a metal worker, creating skeletons for these cements homes in Assomada and beyond—came up the mountains to hang out. My mother’s godson Sidi also joined Gisela, Isabella, Beto and I out on a walk on the streets of the small city. We partook in an event of young kids, a product of a mobile company gimmick to get more customers; capital strands reverberate their talons here interestingly too, the image is not as polished but the undercurrent is very much the same. At least there I saw an incredible hip-hop act by the name of Detroit. They were a group of about five to six kids and they were just amazing. They had the pop recipe down packed when it comes to contemporary forms of hi-hop and they delivered it extremely well. The songs all had great hooks and their words, spoken in Kreolu, were off the mark. They commented on the young city much like Batuke ladies discuss history and politics, this young kids in hip-hop find their voice and it speaks of the sameness of young urban life; But what creates the life, is it the music or is the music a response to the life. In the states we knew the answer, but the answer here, or in any other country where such conversations are being had by young urban kids, are not so simple in definition. I will conclude this entry by again expressing how good these kids were; just amazing.

May 26th

Yesterday the residents had a meeting of plans. Time is increasingly getting shorter and those events once so distant are now only one of two weeks away. We talked about our everyday plans for the week, how and when we will look at the site for our exhibition, where we will meet, who and how we will get this, this for that, so we can do that other thing, and have the impression of that other, other thing, ye, artist’s yapping. I actually love these moments, they’re what this residency was created for. On elements of critic and difference, space and distance, foreignness and contemporary, I wonder what the responses will be by the Cape Verdean creatives. I’ve been careful not to advertise any of these events, these words mentioned above of extemporaneous platters, for they are to be critict in fermented spaces, cooked in the pot of discourse. The final days of work are coming and Magaly is well off on hers, producing some good things, an amalgam of images that challenge the role of the foreigner, transplanting and transposing change in herself and the country, asking the questions of what is it that is fixed in this emerging and submerging culture, and are locals really local to the space they inhabit? Is locality a point of reference or a process of dissemination? Gisela is balancing sight, visually separating herself into two parts, which both house difference and complexities. She is made to look at herself as others see themselves through her, at the same time, looking for, what maybe the first time, her self walking with self, asking why have I not had to ever look at who I am. As for me I am complicating my art and my life, creating fissures between two planes I feel I have control over, all-the-while knowing feelings are fleeting things. Art here merges in a space of self evaluation and responsibility, constructs and conducts itself through supposed affirmations of host and guide, problamatizing the very act of Foreign Member. What’s the outcome?
We spent the after noon in Calheta, a north east beach of volcanic rocks and black sand. Nestled at the end of a dry river end, the beach is small and local; it’s my mother’s favorite spot. Gisela immediately upon seeing a large mound near the shore decided she wanted to dance on it, and she did, with Magaly taking images and others wondering, What the heck is this chick up to? Magaly as well was approached by two young girls, full of smiles and happy that she gave them a football, they would later come back asking for photos which were taken, but that would have to mailed Magaly said and you guys here don’t have mailing addresses. She smiled directly at me, for it was I who said there are no street names in most places, let-alone house numbers, you reach someone’s home by asking; I smiled back. We continued to walk on the lava sculptures; Gisela and Magaly collaborating on a piece about shadows and movement, water and reflections. I took in the breaths of this mist, waives bantering in my ears, the rocks seasoned and cleaned by the constant slap of salt water, the waives ever increasing with the coming tide and I at the tip, looking at the expansive nature of the beast called the Atlantic. I reached a level of fear with the though of being lost in it, not a surprise for many I am sure, for such an outlook at the ocean could easily raise one’s thoughts on death. But I wondered about what lay below it, below this large mirror which hides its depths; it is possibly why I make work on it because it continues to intrigue me. Magaly at some point floated in a bed of clear water, a small pool made by the coming tide. The weather was gray, cloudy, slightly windy but not cold. The sun snuck out like a daring teenager from time to time, but not enough to make me have a dip in the ocean. We made out way back up the mountain soon after, back to Assomada in the Hilux trucks, one of Toyotas finest moments of engineering; those things are beasts going up mountains.
Later that night we went to a concert, paying homage to two great local singers, Pantera from Assomada and Jose-Carlos from Guinea-Bissau. We finally drove to Praia after my mother was finally convinced. I am trying to drag her out as much as I can, for as she says, once we leave she will go back to her boring ways; just the two of them, one who likes to be active, the other who likes his space and comfort. Being that we were in a Hilux driving through the turns of the hills, we also picked up some people. We popped them in the back of the truck to join Magaly, Gisela and Sidi. We had a great time. The performance took place in the Assembly; a beautiful building. It’s where most high delicate meetings take place, politics of the highest form. The performance was great, can’t name you any of the performers, but they put on a good show. The sons of one of the honored persons sang and they too seem to heading in the ways of their father. I will in time come back to fill in such names, for they are important. Seeing as I am not a journalist, I often find it bothersome to chase down names and particular titles and such, it leaves me free to wonder in thought and write in thought, but worry not, as I will in time fill such spaces. We got back home around one in the morning, safe and tired.

* * *

Earlier today we made contact with the SOS for children (,en/), a home for kids without a family. Being that it is right next to our residency, and that I had already connected to some one who works there with my intentions, I lazed on it till now before approaching the main persons in charge; today was the day. We were received very well by the director of the Assomada chapter. Gisela went with me and the both of us express the what the residency was and what it would like to do with the institution: to build a relationship with it, and for it in turn, to utilize the talents that will be passing by Cape Verde through such a portal. With our conversations we brought with us some soccer balls for donation, this was after Beto (Associacao de Capoeira, Liberdade e Expressao, told me that it was best donating some balls to the institution—so as everyone can play with it—then give balls to individuals. It was Beto who set up the meeting for us today. Came here nine in the morning, military time it seems to accompany us there, but we were sleeping after our night drive from Praia. We ended up meeting at eleven. After we handed out the balls and got the open door from the organizations for future residency projects we were taken on a tour. The working lay out is an interesting one, SOS tries to take on the structure of a nuclear family, morphed somewhat. There are ten individual homes within what they call the SOS Village. Each home is named after an island of Cape Verde. The homes are headed by one mother and in each there are a maximum of ten kids. The director of the Village is a man, well, he was today at least, and he is titled as father of the village; he also lives in the village. This breakdown is very similar to old traditional family villages in most parts of Africa. So I was un-bemused by its replica here, but interested with SOS’s other sites around the world; what structures did they adhere to. The area is full of plants, bright colors and shaded areas. There’s a field, gravel, for playing many outdoor sports, there is also a basketball court and facing these two sites is an auditorium. When leaving I took a pictured of a mural of a word map and in it were flags in all the areas that there are SOS sites; this is actually the first thing you see when you enter the village; pretty cool, the world should always be an aspiration for kids.
The connections are set and another goal of the program seems to have come into sight as predicted. For the slow movements which are part of the island, I seem to have worked with it rather well. It could be that I see the complaints some may have with regards to slowness and realize how characteristic it is of the place. I have accepted it, truly. The country is a small place, and we think that by it being small things can get done much faster, but small places are often miniscule when it comes to modernity’s road; modernity likes big, expansive, exhaustive and energetic. It is massive and when it moves, it moves. A small country like Cape Verde may have spurts of speed, but it will take some time for it to become modern and locomotive through out. It still likes familiarity and like most close nit families, it does not like to be rushed.