Reporting from Tilting Axis 1.5
At the invitation of Videobrasil’s director, Solange Farkas, the core organizations of Tilting Axis — The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc, ARC Magazine and the Pérez Art Museum Miami — had the opportunity to participate in the Public Programme at the 19th Sesc_Festival in Sao Paulo on October 8th, 2015.
Earlier this year on a trip to São Paulo, ARC’s director and co-founder of Tilting Axis, Holly Bynoe, met with Solange and Thereza Farkas, Director and Program Director of Videobrasil, to speak about opportunities available at the 19th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil scheduled to take place during the 5-10 of October. During that initial meeting, Solange expressed interest in opening up the public programming while also being acutely aware of the of the way in which the Caribbean is being positioned in the continuum and discourse around the Global South.
Conceived as a mid point meeting, Tilting Axis 1.5 acted as a discursive moment to continue circulating the collective’s core methodologies. Goals included addressing the Caribbean’s peripheral position within larger global art conversations, generating awareness and sensitizing cultural practitioners in the Global South to Tilting Axis.
With an audience of about 30 members, the intimate gathering took place on the 8th of October at Sesc_Pompeia’s Theatre. Solange welcomed the panelists and remarked "It is a great pleasure to be part of this promising encounter Tilting Axis is providing. The Caribbean, despite its global relevance as a tourist destination, has yet to gain recognition as an inexhaustible source of visual art to its full potential and production. There is a clear difficulty in overcoming the ocean that surrounds this archipelago and Tilting Axis has a fundamental role in the unification of the region by hosting meetings and discussions and thereby increasing worldwide interest in the artistic production of the Caribbean." The conversation was chaired by N’Gone Fall, independent curator and founder of GawLab (Senegal) who framed the conversation and the larger platform as moments to think about factors tied to the invisibility and visibility of the Caribbean in the larger art world. The panel comprised Annalee Davis (Fresh Milk), Holly Bynoe (ARC Inc.) and María Elena Ortiz (PAMM).
Annalee gave background to Fresh Milk's interest in Tilting Axis, spoke to why and how Tilting Axis developed and presented an overview of the inaugural 2015 meeting which took place at Fresh Milk in Barbados. Davis made comparisons between the 1st Mercosul biennial - curated by Federico Morais 20 years ago with a mandate to rewrite “the history of Latin American art from a non-Eurocentric perspective”; the Habana Bienal that began as a vital event to place Cubans and other artists from the Global South on the world map and the São Paulo Biennial originating with a goal to establish that city as an international art centre.
She acknowledged the 19th Festival as another cry to the world from the Global South, as Tilting Axis is a collective shout out from the Caribbean to the world, creating visibility and awareness of contemporary visual arts practices from the region. These platforms redirect the tilt to more horizontal axes of discourse which facilitate our listening to the polyphonic voices across the many art worlds, challenging the notion of one centre and one voice. Tilting Axis is contributing to this global chorus.
Holly spoke to ARC's interest in Tilting Axis, the outcomes of the gathering and gave a synopsis of the four clinics along with the platform’s goals. Opening with the promise of an ongoing commitment to transferring institutional knowledge, developing exhibitions and programming opportunities regionally and globally; the core organizations involved have entered into a collaboration that is expected to help accomplish multi tiered levels of sustainability and organic growth for the platform and its deliverables.
Highlighting Tilting Axis’ presence, Bynoe reiterated that it is not to eradicate but to alleviate, calm and decentralize certain pressures linked to creative production by giving creative bodies agency and a framework to reestablish connections with each other. The connections forged from the meeting become less formal and more organic, engendering corroborative actions that are negotiated without scrutiny and leading to a continuation of works that expand upon the industry; its momentum and emergence.
María Elena spoke about PAMM’s interest in participating in Tilting Axis, as well as hosting the upcoming event in Miami in February 2016. PAMM started collaborating with Tilting Axis in 2013 as an effort to reconsider Miami as part of the Caribbean. María Elena explained that at first glance this could be seen as problematic, however, Miami has a significant position within Caribbean communities as a cultural hub. She also described how the decision to host the event in Miami actually came from the group at the first meeting in 2015. María Elena gave an overview of the next iteration, which will continue exploring the main issues raised in the first iteration in Barbados, specifically in the areas of Exhibition and Programming; Education, and Artists’ Movement and Mobility.
For PAMM, it is extremely important to address the concern of the local Caribbean community, which will also be reflected in the upcoming event in 2016. Tilting Axis 2.0 will continue to explore notions raised in the first iteration and make connections with Miami as a pivot to the Caribbean. The name of the 2016 program, Caribbean Strategies, considers possible strategies in the identified areas that could be shared, questioned, or reinterpreted across a transnational Caribbean.
As a result of the TA 1.5 conversation at the Festival, strong interest has emanated from the South African based quarterly publication, ART AFRICA, who have already discussed the possibility of including Tilting Axis in their THAT ART FAIR programme for 2017. In addition, they have expressed interest in offering a partnership to Fresh Milk to participate in an exhibiting capacity. Furthermore, ART AFRICA are looking to extend their network of contributors, and have asked if Fresh Milk and ARC would be interested in contributing a Caribbean perspective to their publication.
Also in attendance was Sharjah Art Foundation President, Sheikha Hoor Al Qasini and Tumelo Mosaka, independent curator of projects such as Infinite Island, Brooklyn Museum (2007) along with Till Fellrath, co-founder of ART Reoriented, a multidisciplinary curatorial platform based in Munich and New York.
- Tilting Axis 2 will be held at the Pérez Art Museum Miami from February 19-21 2015. PAMM and Cannonball have confirmed a partnership which includes two residencies during February. Trinidad-based Marsha Pearce — scholar, researcher, educator and emerging curator — along with London based Bahamian visual artist Blue Curry will spend four weeks at Cannonball.
- Fresh Milk is deepening connections with the São Paulo office of the Goethe Institute who is interested in fostering a collaboration with Casa Tomada to create possibilities for exchange between Brazil and the Caribbean. To this end, discussion is under way to potentially partner in the 2016 iteration of the Transcoeanic Visual Exchange project to platform experimental film between Brazil, the Caribbean and Germany.
- The National Art Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI) has confirmed that they will host Tilting Axis in February 2017. Natalie Urquhart, the gallery director states: “By bringing together arts professionals from across the region, Tilting Axis has provided an unparalleled platform for collaboration and exchange, which has already translated into several important initiatives. We are looking forward to continuing the conversation at TA 2 at PAMM, reporting on outcomes that have arisen out of the initial meeting and expanding opportunities further under the Caribbean Strategies program.
The NGCI is then committed to hosting TA 3 in 2017, the focus of which will be determined by the 2016 gathering, and to help keep the momentum generated by Tilting Axis moving forward.”
- Another outcome from Tilting Axis 1 which was platformed at the conversation included the Arts Mentorship Programme, a one-year trial to be run in a partnership between the Cultural Skills Unit of the British Council Scotland and independent curatorial project Mother Tongue, the Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow (CCA) and David Dale Gallery and Studios. The geographical remit of the programme covers the entire Caribbean, regardless of language, and regional partners will be sought to assist the delivery of the initiative. It has been developed out of exchanges between Scotland and the Caribbean in 2014/2015, and therefore aims to directly target areas of need raised during scoping visits and the first Tilting Axis conference. The project will be aimed at artists, curators and writers at all levels: those in education, recent graduates, emerging practitioners and artist-led spaces; to professional platforms, organisations and institutions.
In the first year, the mentorship programme will deliver the following pilot projects which will be used by the organisers to assess the impact of the first year’s activity, and as case studies to apply for further funding beyond the trial. This partnership will offer two shadow curatorial placements at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, working with curator Remco de Blaaij. Additionally, between 2 and 4 remunerated internships will be granted to students and recent graduates in Barbados through an open call to work on the production and delivery of the exhibition Rum Retort. Programming will also be developed, including but not limited to exhibitions with David Dale Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland.
The British Council, independent of the mentorship program, has also begun initial conversations around a research curatorial trip scheduled to take place in Glasgow, Leeds and London in November, creating various platforms and opportunities for promoting a better understanding of collaborative and exchange possibilities emerging out of Scotland. Several curators from the Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico; including Holly Bynoe, who is currently Chief Curator at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas; have been invited to participate in this research trip.
Tilting Axis 2 will take place at the Pérez Art Museum Miami on the 19 to 21st of February 2016.