Borrowed Light – Public Art – CCA7

Layman’s Light – InterAmerica space

In the InterAmerica space at the former CCA7 building, an unusual exhibition if you can consider it, is on display. Unfortunately for contemporary art in Trinidad and Tobago, this is the last show that would occupy the gallery. Caribbean Contemporary Arts will closed its doors on the day the country celebrates forty five years of independence.

Yet, this installation was produced by a simple layman who had more concerns with the high prices of food and retailer’s favorite sentence, “It gone up”. He also spoke of our Independence, the incompetent leaders and that after forty five years, we were still too young to see, too juvenile to known of a better future. And in all, he felt his children had none, and people (after God) should believe in themselves first, before giving their fate to anyone else.

But just hours before he managed to pry the hardwood flooring off the floor entirely, stacking and separating the planks of wood. The gallery’s original gray concrete floor is now covered with layers of powdery dust and lint. The space is transformed into a sandy beach with stacks of drift wood and tangled seaweed.

At the British Pavilion Venice Biennale, Tracey Emin had constructed stacks of wood that took on a kinetic module or pillar that extended towards the ceiling of the room. This is what is astonishing about art, and the context which it is placed. It demonstrates that once again an object confined within four white walls automatically retains the power of being a work of Art. Unknown to this artist, his methodology and order of removing the flooring produced the very concept as with Ms. Emin’s Borrowed Light piece. The removal of the flooring also triggered a poetic closure and undoubtedly, it was one of the best shows for the year 2007.

Adele’s comments:

The images posted by the bookmann at CCA7 had an unexpected effect on me. I too read the assemblage of wooden planks as Instillation Art. In fact it seemed rather powerful imagery within the room. Imagine that the worker coming into the space having almost no interest in what passes for Art today, and proceeding to un-self consciously make it within the space. I must say that there is an opportunity for rebirth.

Perhaps it is in looking around us that we can turn the Art that we see in Trinidad, away from physical buildings to pockets of environments where Art happens for its own sake. I believe that it is necessary and shall happen, as artists seek out new ways to get their work seen. CCA7 was an audacious plan, and it caused much excitement and derision. I recall someone saying how could we put ourselves on the international art scene map when no one had heard of us. A defeatist attitude before we even began. CCA7 was accused of cronyism and privilege and much in the structure needed to be tweaked. Let’s face it, no matter who starts an art concern, these views shall be levelled against them. But isn’t that the way with most new born things? The NGO lasted seven years and it didn’t bring bad luck. The people involved shall continue to evolve and CCA7 shall incarnate into something else. It is up to artists to be pro-active and to remember that we can all manage creatively with gentleness to each other instead of a crab in barrel attitude.

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