​© 2019 by Katherine Kennedy. All rights reserved.

Writing

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Franz Caba, Touristic Enhancements, 2018. Photograph by Sharelly Emanuelson

Do you take this region? – Reflections on Caribbean Linked V

...At Caribbean Linked, we fall in love with one another’s realness; our beauty, our flaws, our histories, our complexity and honesty in this familiar/foreign setting. Conversations could range from friendly jabs at one another’s accents, to which colonial powers had historically “owned” our islands, listing them off and comparing notes. It is almost bizarre, the casual way we could chat about such a heavy topic, but maybe the ease with which we could have this discussion could be attributed to a mutual acknowledgment of a shared history – and, more importantly, an unspoken understanding of what it meant for us to be challenging and disowning that legacy of oppression and segregation, even by simply being in the same space. Caribbean Linked simultaneously breaks down everything I thought I knew, and reminds me of what I have always understood about being from the Caribbean...

Read the full article written for the Caribbean Linked website here.

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Closing the Gap

Beyond straightforward ideas that come to mind when I think about politics, a more general association I make is one of conformity; governance as it applies to a set group, and ways of asserting some kind of control within it. But how do we define groups of people, and how do we negotiate the politics around the inevitable intersections between these boundaries – what are the politics of simply belonging and existing? The Caribbean is a region constantly struggling with these notions, on the one hand having the multitude of cultures present here flattened and simplified by external gazes, while on the other still struggling with nationalistic divisions that may prevent us from finding affinities between the shared history and contemporary issues we grapple with.

Read the full article written for Akademie Schloss Solitude’s online publication Schlossghost #1 here.

Work in progress by Katherine Kennedy

Remembering 'your place': A review of the 4th San Juan Poly/Graphic Triennial & parallel exhibitions

 

I had a conversation several months ago with Barbadian arts writer Natalie McGuire and artist Versia Harris about the concept of memory and how it compares with reality. Sifting through memories can sometimes feel as simple as flipping through a photo album, with a clear image in front of you that “doesn’t lie” – but is everyone adhering to the same truth? We discussed theories around individual experiences being filtered through emotional, physical and mental states, as well as influenced by an infinite number of external factors which elicit different responses from person to person. Basically – if memories are so subjective, how can we trust our own recollections, let alone those relayed to us? How do we feel grounded to our surroundings or connected with others if fact, fiction and feelings begin to morph or fade each time we process them? These questions were on my mind when I travelled to Puerto Rico in October, 2015 to attend the opening of the 4th San Juan Poly/Graphic Triennial: Latin America and the Caribbean, whose theme this year is ‘Displaced Images / Images in Space’.

 

Read the full article written for ARC Magazine here.

Alicia Villareal, Grabar el territorio, 2009. Photo by Katherine Kennedy

“During Carnival, all fools are equal” – A review of Alles Maskerade!

 

When I think about people and things gravitating towards one another, I tend to think of this natural pull in a ‘birds of a feather’ sense. This was certainly the mindset I was in when I attended the opening reception of the exhibition Alles Maskerade! at the MEWO Kunsthalle in Memmingen, Germany last November. I had been in Germany on fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude for nearly three months by that time, and although certainly not starved for stimulation in a multi-cultural environment with several international resident artists, I was especially excited for this exhibition because it would provide something I had not experienced in a while: familiarity. Alles Maskerade! presented contemporary takes on the theme of carnival, and featured the work of fellow Barbadian artist Ewan Atkinson and Trinidadian artist Marlon Griffith. With the promise of reconnecting with the Caribbean and seeing critical explorations of what has become an iconic symbol of the region, gravity was definitely in action when I made the trip to Memmingen.

 

Read the full article written for ARC Magazine here.

Work by Marlon Griffith. Photo by Katherine Kennedy

WINDOW HORSES - An Interview with Ann Marie Fleming and Sandra Oh

 

While in residence as a ResSupport Fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Katherine Kennedy interviewed former fellow of the Akademie, Ann Marie Fleming, and actress Sandra Oh about their upcoming feature length animation ‘WINDOW HORSES’. Created by Fleming and starring/co-produced by Oh, the story follows Rosie Ming – a Canadian poet of Chinese and Persian heritage – as she journeys to Iran to take part in a poetry festival. This culturally rich film underscores the beauty of diversity, and how it can be used to bring people together and affirm communities that are often under-represented. 

 

Read the full interview on the official Akademie Schloss Solitude Blog here.

Still shot from the WINDOW HORSES trailer

Akademie Schloss Solitude: Q&A with the Director

 

The call for applications to undertake a residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany was open until October 31, 2014. Read an interview here between Katherine Kennedy – current fellow in the ResSupport programme supported by Res Artis, representing the Fresh Milk Art Platform at the Akademie – and the programme’s founding and artistic director, Jean-Baptiste Joly. The conversation reveals more about the Akademie’s mandate, the relationships built between the institution and the residents, and interest in cultivating ties with the Caribbean arts community. 

 

Read the full interview conducted for ARC Magazine here.

Akademie Schloss Solitude. Photograph by Katherine Kennedy

Maj Hasager, Decembers – performing a past, 2013. Image courtesy of the artist.

 

Redefining Practice - Reflections with Maj Hasager

 

When we speak about art, we often use the word »practice« as a multipurpose term to cover the thinking, the making, the product…all the processes that build towards something such as an exhibition or a clearly defined project. But what about the moments that occur in between, not necessarily linked to a finished piece? Where do ‘non artistic’ tasks fall in the realm of this all encompassing »practice«, and how do our actions influence or become part of our artistic work? These questions led to a discussion between Katherine Kennedy and Maj Hasager, both former fellows at Akademie Schloss Solitude.  

 

Read the full piece on the official Akademie Schloss Solitude Blog here.

Still image from the Cameroonian short film Beleh, starring and directed by Eka Christa Assam

Telling our Stories - Achille Brice & Eka Christa Assam

 

On September 3, 2014, former Akademie Schloss Solitude resident Achille Brice and fellow filmmaker Eka Christa Assam presented the German premiere of three film shorts – I.C.U., I-BEMSI and Beleh – at Generationshaus, Stuttgart. Barbadian artist and writer Katherine Kennedy, who is currently in residence at the Akademie acting as a correspondent between the Caribbean and the community here, spoke with them after the screening. The conversation provided an opportunity to discuss not only the works themselves, but the larger context in which they function in Cameroonian society. Through a series of questions, observations and personal anecdotes, cultural exchanges occurred, emphasizing the importance of perspective in both the telling and appreciation of a story. 

 

Read more on the official Akademie Schloss Solitude Blog here.

 

 

Katherine Kennedy Reports from Akademie Schloss Solitude

 

The best way I can describe both the past few and upcoming months would be transitionary. Working in the arts is flexible by nature, but at times it feels even more crucial to be receptive to change when operating in the context of the Caribbean and contributing to platforms such as ARC Magazine and Fresh Milk. The missions of both initiatives overlap and synergize in their commitment to maintaining critical, creative spaces of encounter, acting as ‘cultural labs‘ whose agendas surpass nationalistic thinking with the larger, holistic good of the region in mind. These are ambitious goals that both ARC and Fresh Milk rise and adapt to in a number of ways on an ongoing basis, and goals that can only be achieved through open mindedness to new ideas, new people and new environments. 

 

Read the full report on ARC Magazine here.

 

Katherine Kennedy at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany. Photograph by Katherine Kennedy.

Visibility and Validity: A Review of See Me Here

 

There is an undeniable relationship between validity and visibility. As quietly confident, assured or competent as one can be, there is something about gaining recognition that feeds the feeling of being appreciated and understood – of being seen. I already feel slightly uneasy and egotistical trying to articulate this in a way that doesn’t trigger little accusatory voices in the back of my mind hissing ‘vain!’ or ‘insecure!’…concepts that by all logic should be mutually exclusive, but the idea of needing validation from external sources manages to connote both. Maybe a less self-destructive approach is to delve into something relevant to, yet larger than myself, through the honest and brave work of the artists featured in See Me Here: A Survey of Contemporary Self-Portraits from the Caribbean.

 

Read the full review on the Fresh Milk Books Tumblr page here.

 

 

Cover of See Me Here: A Survey of Contemporary Self-Portraits from the Caribbean. Photograph by Katherine Kennedy.

Review: Wangechi Mutu's Family Tree

 

hy·brid - nounA person or group of persons produced by the interaction or crossbreeding of two unlike cultures, traditions, etc.

 

Definitions have always been my go-to method for gathering my thoughts; when you define something, it becomes clear and finite, manageable and straightforward. It creates a singular approach to a topic. After reading Kristine Stiles’ essay Wangechi Mutu’s Family Tree in the stunning exhibition catalogue for ‘Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey’, I felt saturated by the full sensory experience- from Stiles’ words, to Mutu’s salient images, to the gorgeous, smooth matte cover of the book. So, I retreated to my comfort zone of definitions to decompress. The corner I managed to back myself into with this, is that seeking a tidy, singular trajectory for something which in itself embodies plurality felt inadequate, especially with the much wiser and nuanced voices in the essay colouring my interpretations.

 

Read the full review on the Fresh Milk Books Tumblr page here.

 

 

Wangechi Mutu, Try Dismantling the Little Empire Inside You, Ink, Mylar, pigment, photocollage with mixed media on Mylar and wall, 95 1/2 x 104”, 2007

Ewan Atkinson, The Neighbourhood Report, 2013-ongoing

ARC Feature Portfolio: Ewan Atkinson's 'The Neighbourhood Report'

 

The Neighbourhood Report: A compendium of Neighbourhood esoterica presented in ordered disorder by various denizens.’ This is the verbose introduction the visitor is met with on the virtual home of Barbadian visual artist Ewan Atkinson’s latest body of work. The Neighbourhood Project has been a long-term investigation of Atkinson’s into the lives and surroundings of an assortment of fictional characters he has created, stemming enough from the artist’s life and influences to be relatable, while being shrouded in enough mystery to weave a fantastic tale of intrigue. Each online update to the series feels like it renders the viewer privy to the secrets of the Neighbourhood, almost putting the audience in a position of power when we learn about or catch the characters in incriminating moments of seeming indiscretion - but we cannot take that at face value, much like many of the updates fed through social media each day.

 

 

Read the full interview with the artist conducted for ARC Magazine here.

 

 

Permissive Thinking – Unpacking my Time at Vermont Studio Center

 

Permission; this word remained with me throughout my residency at the Vermont Studio Center (VSC) in May 2013, after the introductory remarks from Founder Jonathan Gregg on the first evening. He spoke about the fact that in this world of constant pressures, whether internal or external, it is easy for creativity to become lost and stifled as each action we perform becomes scrutinized to the point where we shut down our ideas before giving them a chance to take shape. The Center’s mission statement includes “honoring creative work as the communication of spirit through form,” encouraging a natural, free way of working which allows the work to find its own voice. Being in an environment so removed from my regular life, where all of the activities which usually occupy my thoughts seemed to belong to someone else, this was a welcome change of pace. Although letting go of inhibitions and judgement is far easier said than done, I gradually found myself receptive to the concept – able for the first time in a while to grant myself permission to focus only on my art work.

 

Read the full article written for ARC Magazine here.

Photograph by Katherine Kennedy

‘Hustle de Money – a Performance by Bertie aka Big Red aka

General outta Glitter Zone’ – Sexuality in Caribbean Society

Sexuality in the Caribbean remains a point of contention when examining the region from a sociological standpoint. Religion has had a tremendous impact on virtue in West Indian society, dating back to the days when Christianity was introduced and made mandatory in many territories. However another perception of the Caribbean, which is used as a stereotype to draw crowds, is that of an exotic playground, somewhere fun and free without inhibitions or consequences.

The moral code of conduct stipulated by religion is at the opposite end of the spectrum to this notion of wild abandon, and this contradictory and sometimes hypocritical struggle manifests in images which surround us in everyday life, and have become so commonplace that the irony no longer strikes us as odd.



Read the full article written for ARC Magazine here.

Photograph by Dondré Trotman

‘One Person, Many Stories’ – A Performance by Sheena Rose

 

...As the audience reeled from this, and questioned ownership of the voice (was the true confession in the blunt statement? Was it Sheena or the other character who had suffered in this way?), they were again jolted from their thoughts by a shrill scream. Without reacting to her own cry, Sheena seamlessly began to speak as if to an artist, saying she ‘loved the work’ and asking where the inspiration came from, to which she replied “I used to beat my wife.”



This string of traumatic revelations may seem disjointed – each glimpse of these events could scarcely be processed before the audience was disconcerted again – but maybe that was the point. The common factor between each scenario was Sheena finding herself faced with a raw honesty that uncovers a very private part of someone, and that can leave you at a loss for how to react. She translated this disorientation and exposure by presenting herself fully nude and sharing these memories, tearing down physical and emotional boundaries of each person present, removing them from their comfort zones.



Read the full article written for ARC Magazine here.

Photograph by Adrian Richards



FRESH MILK VII: The Opening of The Colleen Lewis Reading Room and a Review of ‘A Negation of Preconceptions’

...I spoke to Natalie McGuire about her selection of work to be included in the exhibition, which complements the photographs in Pictures from Paradise, creating a tangible link to it without mirroring it completely. It is a small sampling of inter-regional artists who masterfully tackle this theme, and Natalie made excellent use of the space she had, the photographs displayed relating well to one another despite each artist’s distinctive style. Natalie mentions that, in spite of this undercurrent of rejecting Caribbean stereotypes, the work is not necessarily actively responding to them. The artists are not taking the offensive; they are merely trying to represent what is real to them in their immediate environment, showing their side rather than a product of tourism.

 

 

Read the full article written for ARC Magazine here.

Photograph by Dondré Trotman



Reflections on Education and Identity: The Work of Ewan Atkinson

...This attraction to the theatrical coupled with delving into communities as a cultural construct led to Ewan’s on-going series of works, which he has collectively dubbed ‘The Neighbourhood Project.’ This project, which spans through multiple exhibitions and continues to occupy his thoughts, involves a group of fictional characters he has created and the space they inhabit, an artificial society where they function and tell their stories. Fiction was the debut exhibition introducing us to these characters and their surroundings. Starman Overhead, for example, shows one of Ewan’s protagonists soaring over the neighbourhood to which he belongs. Starman takes on the cryptic task of ‘building a wigwam to wind-up the moon,’ in this fantasy land. The use of maps was prevalent in this exhibition, and it is almost like we as viewers are invited to learn our way around this unfamiliar universe we are presented with.



Read the full article written for ARC Magazine here.

Ewan Atkinson, Starman Overhead, 2007