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Trinidad & Tobago: Blogging the Arts

Cozier flags AS THE Anglophone Caribbean blogosphere grows, so does the number of specialist blogs devoted to specific subjects. For two decades now, Trinidad has been a major site for contemporary art in the Caribbean, rivalling the better known art centres of Cuba and Jamaica, though not enjoying the same amount of international attention. But a recent proliferation of Trinidadian art blogs is beginning to create a significant presence for the island's artists and art institutions on the world wide web.

A handful of Trinidadian artists — such as Edward Bowen — and commercial galleries — such as 101 Art Gallery — set up websites relatively early on, but the first artist bloggers have appeared only within the last two years or so. Christopher Cozier, one of the Caribbean's leading contemporary artists, is also a member of the Small Axe collective, and curates the journal's SXspace, a site for discussing the work of Caribbean artists. He also began a blog, Visual Matters, in April 2006. His posts, thus far sparse, include a conceptual sketch for an artwork subsequently made for a show in Canada, and an essay on the Trinidadian thinker Lloyd Best.

Irish-born artist Mary Adam, who has lived in Trinidad for over thirty years, has used her website to house an online gallery of her work, and recently started a separate blog with “drawings and other images, mine and other people's, old and new, good and bad, with and without text, as a starting point for something else, which might or might not ever happen”. One recent post started a debate over the question of “the artist's intention” and its role in interpreting an artwork.

elspeth_serendipity Richard Bolai and Adele Todd of The Bookmann use their blog to explore what they call the “Trinidad Aesthetic © 1997″ via brief essays on “art, wall paintings, architecture, posters, typography, design, street graffiti, television, film and other kitsch based works in the environment” which are often bitingly critical of the work of other artists. And multimedia artist Elspeth Duncan uses her blog Now Is Wow as an online journal–or, as she puts it, a “daily evolving creative portal”.

banana monologuesOne of the major players on Trinidad's art scene is Caribbean Contemporary Arts, a non-profit organisation that “works with contemporary visual artists, curators, writers, historians and art educators from the Caribbean and the Caribbean Diaspora to exhibit, publish and document our region's art practice, influences and ideas”. CCA publishes its monthly newsletter, Art Papers, in blog format, announcing news about upcoming shows and artists’ residencies. And CCA has lent its institutional support to a groundbreaking new contemporary arts programme, Galvanize, which was launched in September 2006 and decided to establish its online presence in blog format. galvanize posterThe Galvanize blog includes profiles of participating artists, musicians, and writers alongside information on the schedule of events, and the Galvanize online gallery is hosted at Flickr, with most of the images under Creative Commons licenses. At least one of the Galvanize artists, Jaime Lee Loy, has set up her own blog with information and images from her project Unease: An 8-Step Programme.

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