Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Garifuna Collective's 'Irresistible Groove'

The Garifuna community on the Caribbean coast of Central America speaks an endangered language and sings and dances what UNESCO calls "a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity." The Garifuna Collective, a group of musicians from Belize, galvanizes audiences around the world with lyrical call-and-response melodies and driving, overlapping rhythms derived from West African percussion and indigenous Arawak and Carib singing.Their 2007 album Watina became an instant classic, and did more than anything else to bring this culture and language to a global audience. It was a culmination of years of labor founder Andy Palacio to preserve Garifuna culture through music, working with Stonetree Records producer Ivan Duran to form an intergenerational group of traditional musicians who became the Garifuna Collective. Duran says: "Now, it feels like the whole village is singing. That’s beautiful, because it’s a true reflection of what music means in the Garifuna community and how songs are made. It’s always a collective effort.”

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

New Caribbean Art at Perez Museum Miami

Contemporary Caribbean artists are pursuing practices that are kaleidoscopic in range and diverse in scope. Their work reflects the multitude of experiences of the region’s 26 countries as well as its many diasporic cultures in metropolitan centers. Over the past 15 years, numerous exhibitions have contributed distinct readings of the work of artists of the Caribbean, including “Infinite Islands” at the Brooklyn Museum in New York (2007–08); “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World” at the Museo del Barrio in New York (2012); and “Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art from the Caribbean Archipelago” at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California (2018). In turn, discussions have grown around Caribbean artists and the relationship between the continent and the islands; the configurations of race and the rights to representation; the use of disposable materials; the persistence of colonialism; the recovery of ancestral knowledge and spiritualities; and the connection to the environment. Most recently, a new exhibition at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, “The Other Side of Now: Foresight in Contemporary Caribbean Art,” curated by María Elena Ortiz and Marsha Pearce, is showcasing the work of emerging artists from the Caribbean. More>>

Monday, August 5, 2019

Defend Cayo Rosario & Hol Chan Marine Reserve!

Belize is home to the second longest barrier reef in the world.  This diverse and delicate eco-system needs our help now more than ever, not only for the marine life but for the people of Belize. Our coastal economy is reliant on our reef and these waters.

In 2015, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Belize’s most visited marine reserve was expanded to include over 135 sq miles of shoals, wetlands, mangrove cayes and expansive flats.  The purpose of the expansion was to forever preserve an invaluable nursery for our Belize Barrier reef and vital habitat for the prized and protected permit, tarpon and bonefish.

This reserve is now in imminent danger with a recently approved development project on and around tiny Cayo Rosario (Rosary Caye “Key”).  The government of Belize has approved both large scale dredging and massive over-the-water construction around the small island. More>>

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Caribbean and U.S. Imperial Banking

Bank of Haiti, circa 1890
"The history of U.S. imperialism can be found in the archives of Wall Street’s oldest, largest, and most powerful institutions. ...the vaults and ledgers of banking houses such as Citigroup, Inc., and J. P. Morgan Chase and Co. reveals a story of capitalism and empire whose narrative is not of morally pure and inspiring economic growth, but rather of blood and labor, stolen sovereignty and pilfered resources, military occupation and monetary control. Sugar comingles with blood, chain gangs cross spur lines, and the magical abstractions of finance are found vulgarized in the base manifestations of racial capitalism. This history of bankers and empire is also a Caribbean history. The Caribbean archipelago was ground zero for U.S. imperial banking. More>>

Friday, June 7, 2019

Gris Gris Piano Maestro Dr. John Embarks on His Final Voyage to the Realm of the Saints

Mac Rebennack first became Dr. John on the 1968 album Gris-Gris, an audacious mix of psychedelia and New Orleans R&B that’s probably the most ambitious and best album that he ever made. It’s an utterly original work that feels genuinely steeped in folk magic and shadow histories: a “soundtrack of colonial collisions,” as Charles Hughes put it in a terrific essay commemorating the album’s 50th birthday last year. At a time when many rock artists were scaling increasingly grandiose and pretentious heights in search of the freakiest freakout, Gris-Gris was a roots record that managed to outfreak all of them. The album didn’t chart, but it quickly became an underground favorite. More>> 

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Firelei Báez: A Drexcyen Chronocommons

A heady origin story exempli es the Dominican-born, New York–based artist’s interest in weaving together history and myth in order to tease out—or complicate—dominant narratives about female identity, migration, and the Afro-Caribbean experience. The installation, an off-puttingly comforting and relaxing environment, serves as a “safe space” in which varied cultures can come together to connect. As Jared Quinton wrote in 2016, Báez’s “subject matter could be didactic in the wrong hands, but she sidesteps that risk with her focus on beauty, engagement, and emotion, seducing viewers into a contemplative space in which to confront them with painful histories.” More>>  See Also: Firelei Báez finds the personal in the historical at Orlando’s Mennello Museum