To act and counter-act balance – Bryan Bullen

Grenada has had a troubling history, from the American-Cuban conflict in 1983, to the storm that changed her entire landscape.

And here in the InterAmericas Space of the Caribbean Contemporary Art, Trinidad and Tobago these ingrained moments have materialised into a sculpture entitled; Misbehavin� Properly .

The Grenada-born / Canadian industrial designer, Bryan Bullen has engineered a free-standing object animating more like the invading American helicopters on the beaches of Grenada or visually, as a bullet-proof shield encasing the assassinated Prime-Minister Maurice Bishop�s (localised product of “Cocoa”) shirt-jack. The shirt-jack is a familiar garment to the Caribbean and worn by the working men and politicians alike. Hung on the centre rod which supports a canopy and base of the structure. Rows of metal strapping bands are strand over an elongated cage braced by prop-like steel rods. A blue coloured metal bin surrounding the shirt is boxed in by fine wood-grained panels, indigenous to the small Caribbean island. At the opening of the enclosure, two half doors mimic a Caribbean wooden dwelling and shelter the Crocus material cocoa leaf shirt-jack and mounted surveillance video camera, which captures and projects those in attendance.

In similarity to the effects of the storm, Ivan and Misbehavin� Properly, what Grenada experienced that day filters through the metal canopy of this sculpture. A roof, yet roofless – like ripped galvanise from the wooden rafters of houses. The storm, Misbehavin� and defiant. And without being literal, this work represents his country realistically, dismissing the iconic gimmicks of flags, or strips of national identity to jog an association.

For the record, Mr.Bullen is fixated by the principle of exposing the skeleton which would house its owner. His previous sculptures have relied on that primary role. For “Misbehavin’ Properly,” though, a hand crafted metal drum is forged into shape by the bare hands of the artist, then assembled unlike a Lego building block, but with unusual materials relating to transport and trade. Mr.Bullen speaks of Globalisation but is this what he means? Wood, metal strapping bands, cables and metal tubes – objects we see daily yet neglect its purpose; “A electrical pole centred by cables,” or transport wooden crates used to import foreign cars and car parts franticly recycled as structural walls for homes to accommodated poorer citizens. For the layman this arrangement of “building” materials makes no �concrete sense.� But for the artist it speaks of a language of recyclable structural possibilities and a vision of an irregular shape firmly standing.

To act and counter-act balance

It stands complete, a peculiar sculpture viewed by a spectator�s puzzlement and awe of its construction rather than its beauty. What Mr.Bullen has achieved is a feat of moving will. A steep staircase takes you to the exhibition space located on the second floor of an industrial complex with no freight elevators. A detail to which Bryan Bullen should be commended for by engineering the foreseen component to the construction and assemble of a defiant Misbehavin’ Properly freestanding sculpture.

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