Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Black Jacobins: Negritude In A Post Global 21st Century International Symposium.

24th February - 1st March 2011
Bridgetown, Barbados and Fort-De-France, Martinique.

A major Caribbean symposium that links the past with the present and will present a series of historical works as well as existing contemporary works based on the legacies of two major 20th century figures:
the Trinidadian writer and intellectual C.L.R. James and the Martinique poet and intellectual Aime Cesaire.

In his seminal book The Black Jacobins (1938), C.L.R. James (1901-1989) examines the Haitian (Sainte-Domingue) Revolution of 1791-1803. He analyses revolutionary potential and progress according to economic and class distinctions, rather than racial distinctions. The book is also focused on Toussaint L’ Ouverture as the revolutionary spearhead and organizational leader. Thus, The Black Jacobins discusses Caribbean revolt within the context of colonial slavery and furthermore establishes the first black diasporic anti colonial figure hero.
Aime Cesaire (1913–2008) formulated – together with Leopold Senghor and Leon Gontian Damas – the concept and movement of Negritude, the “affirmation that one is black and proud of it”. Cesaire’s thoughts about restoring the cultural identity of black Africans were first fully expressed in Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Return To My Native Land, 1939), a mixture of poetry and poetic prose that celebrates the ancestral homelands of Africa and the Caribbean. Negritude has been seen as a major intellectual force that has influenced countless liberational leaders to artistic movements from the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Power Movements.

This symposium is not about re-appraising these two Caribbean lives but about the re-examining their ideas within a visual art performative 21st century Caribbean diaspora context. Both these writers were using their art (in the form of the discourse of literature) as a political weapon. Today, Black Jacobins: Negritude In A Post Global 21st Century refers to the historical movement of diaspora artists from the past to the present rising above the singular narrative or notion of ‘Caribbean art’ to produce works that have a unique signature in style and content. The symposium has two major strands: Historical Iconographies (Barbados) and Contemporary Dialogues (Martinique)

Historical Iconographies explores the period spanning World War II, the movement for Federation within the West Indies, and the move towards Independence as a period of evolving ideologies of self-definition and determination. The work and ideas of both C.L.R. James and Aime Cesaire are evident in or parallel those of several artists (their contemporaries) within the Caribbean and from the diaspora. Perhaps most direct is the meeting and collaboration in 1941 between Cesaire and Cuban artist Wifredo Lam. Cesaire’s exploration and affirmation of Afro-Caribbean culture, which influenced and paralleled Lam’s own, reinforced and expanded his visual-poetic expressions of Afro-Caribbean culture and identity.

This occurred in the context of fertile collaboration with surrealists Andre Breton, and Andre Masson; and their encounter with Hector Hyppolite in Haiti. Pioneering art movements led by artists such as Karl Broodhagen (Guyana, Barbados), Edna Manley (UK, Jamaica), and Carlos Enriquez and Amelia Pelaez (both from Cuba) combine art deco and African imagery to project a newly emerging aesthetic that could speak to national and regional identity. Outside of the region, the innovative performer and choreographer Katherine Dunham introduced ideas of negritude into black modern dance during the 1940s after visiting the Caribbean with Zora Neale Hurston. Jacob Lawrence in 1938 produced a series of 41 paintings entitled Toussaint L’Ouverture. And the image of the black angel as performed by Feral Benga in Jean Cocteau’s film Blood Of A Poet (1930) embraced the iconic moving image work with surrealist ideas (which was at the heart of negritude).

Contemporary Dialogues explores existing moving image and other art works that emerged following the achievement of political independence within much of the West Indies, the revolution in Cuba and the attendant waves of migration north. The 1980s short documentary interview between the Jamaican intellectual Stuart Hall and C.L.R. James, the moving image works by Haitian film director Raul Peck (Man Of The Shore) and by Martinique artist Euzhan Palcy established the centrality of James and Cesaire for successive creators in the region and wider diaspora. Edouard Duval Carrie (Haiti), Jose Bedia (Cuba), Tony Capellan (Dominican Republic), Nick Whittle (UK, Barbados) and Stanley Greaves (Guyana) explore themes of politics, migration and transculturation that convey the challenges and the insights that displacement and exile bring. The place of popular artists such as Amos Ferguson (Bahamas), Francis Griffith (Barbados), Everald Brown and Leonard Daley (Jamaica), and Philip Moore (Guyana) within the evolving national identity also needs greater articulation and contextualizing. Other artists in this context include Lubania Himid, Marc Latime, Isaac Julien and Martina Attille, Joscelyn Gardner, Sonia Boyce, Steve McQueen, Alfredo Jaar, Peter Doig and Luc Tuymans.

The conference is organised by:
David A. Bailey: artist, curator and exhibition organiser; Director, International Curators Forum – London / Bahamas
Dominique Brebion: Advisor for Visual Arts, Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles – Martinique
Allisandra Cummins: Director, Barbados Museum and Historical Society, President, National Art Gallery Committee, Barbados
Alain Hauss: Regional Director of Cultural Affairs, Martinique
Allison Thompson: Director, Department of Fine Arts, Barbados Community College; Member, National Art Gallery Committee, Barbados


Thursday, 24 February 2011
Barbados: Savannah Hotel, Bridgetown
Participants arrive / Registration
7.30: Welcome reception – Introduction by David A. Bailey
8.00: Film Screening: CLR James in conversation with Stuart Hall (1984) by Mike Dibb

Friday, 25 February 2011
Barbados: Savannah Hotel, Bridgetown
8.30–9.30: Registration
9.30–9.45: Madam of Ceremonies: Alissandra Cummins
9.45–10.15: Welcome address by the Minister of Culture: The Hon Steven Blackett
10.15–11:00: Introduction / overview: David A. Bailey
11.00–12.00: Response / panel discussion: Yona Backer, Imruh Bakari, Valerie John, Keith Piper, Andrea Wells
12.00–2.00: Lunch
2.00–4.00: Workshop 1: Euzhan Palcy’s Film Practice – discussion led by Imruh Bakari / Moderator: Suzy Landau
7.30: Film Screening: Aime Cesaire (part 2) (1994) by Euzhan Palcy / Introduction: David A. Bailey

Saturday, 26 February 2011
Barbados: Savannah Hotel, Bridgetown
9.00–12.00: Workshop 2: Mike Dibb – The Art Documentary / Moderator: David A. Bailey
12.00–2.00: Lunch
2.00–4.00: Workshop 3: The Diasporic Black Moving Cube: Yona Backer, Christian Bertin, Valerie John, Suzy Landau, Annette Nias, Keith Piper, / Moderators: David A. Bailey, Allison Thompson
7.30: Film Screening: Muxima (2006) by Alfredo Jaar

Sunday, 27 February 2011
5:00 Flight to Martinique

Monday, 28 February 2011
Martinique: Salle Frantz Fanon - Atrium, Fort-de-France
8.30–9.30: Registration
9.30: Opening remarks
10.00–12.30: Richard J. Powell: The Legacy of CLR James and Aime Cesaire / Moderators: Keith Piper and David A. Bailey
12.30–2.00 Lunch
2.00–4.30: John Franklin: The Legacy of Aime Cesaire / Suzy Landau: Colour Of Words / Moderators: Alissandra Cummins and Dominique Brebion
7.30: Film Screening: Zétwal by Gilles Elie-Dit-Cosaque / Introduction: Dominique Brebion

Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Martinique: Salle Frantz Fanon - Atrium, Fort-de-France
9.30–12.00: Curating in the Caribbean: Dominique Brebion: Think global and act local / Veerle Poupeye and O’Neil Lawrence: New curatorship in Jamaica / Claire Tancons: Curating Carnival / Barbara Prezeau: Haïti au 21eme siècle : l’art des mutants / Jennifer Smit: Curating in Curacao: The Challenges
12:00 – 1:30 Lunch

1.30–4.00: Curating in the Caribbean (Part 2): Haydee Venegas: Paradigms on Latin American and Caribbean art / Sara Herman: Unconscious Curatorships / Winston Kellman: The invisibility of the visual arts in the Barbadian conciousness / Krista A. Thompson: How to Install Art as a Caribbeanist? / Moderator: Allison Thompson
4.00: Vote of thanks: Alfred Alexandre
7.30: Closing Reception