Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 8th 2013 Contents B29
September 8, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
A A B A A C A
ARC Magazine, founded in 2011, is a print
magazine devoted to highlighting contemporary
Caribbean and Caribbean diaspora art.
Published twice yearly, it is curated by Holly
Bynoe, editor-in-chief and Nadia Huggins,
creative director. Bynoe and Huggins, ARC s
co-founders, are both from St Vincent; con-
tributors come from all over the region, includ-
ing T&T. Issue 7 of the magazine was launched
in June 2013 in Grenada. The launch was struc-
tured to coincide with the 38th Annual
Caribbean Studies Association Conference.
Prefacing the diverse collection of art, inter-
views, essays and retrospectives that make up
Issue 7, Bynoe s editorial issues the powerful
proclamation that "the Caribbean as an artistic
space has never been more potent." It s a sen-
timent that s also a catalytic marker for the
creative energy infusing both ARC as a col-
lective entity, and this issue in particular. ARC
as an imaginative, representative space is all-
inclusive, inviting intuitive play with the
boundaries that signify what it means to be
a member of the Caribbean cultural con-
Boundary delineation is crucial to the work
of this issue s featured artist, Jean-Ulrick
Désert, of Haitian provenance, based in Berlin.
Désert s reflections are framed in the form of
a conversation with interviewer Jerry Philogene.
The creations of Désert are constructed from
multiple media: they are often panoramic in
scope and immersive in intent: his ongoing
series, The Goddess Projects, uses imagery of
the iconic French-American performer and
Civil Rights movement activist, Josephine
The Goddess Project spotlights Baker s image
as a leitmotif, a recurring symbol in a body
of work, often tending towards revolutionary
significance. Désert expresses interest in Baker
"beyond the banana skirt" and the installations
in The Goddess Project hinge on telling stories
outside of a cocoon of myopic romanticism---
though, the artist urges, all interpretations are
Interviewed by David Cuthbert, Trinidadian
graphic designer and artist Marlon Darbeau
discusses his functional creative projects, three
of which were showcased in the installation
By Making---More than just a place to sit, in
December 2012 at Granderson Lab, Belmont.
Darbeau s Peera incorporates elements of
design that are both tradition-steeped and au
courant, re-imaging the peerha or peerah (a
small, low bench used in Hindu weddings, as
well as in daily household use) as both a useful
furniture item, in addition to a portable case
for the transportation of tools and other imple-
ments. Darbeau s finished Peeras are sleek,
efficient creatures of style and practicality:
they hearken to a rapidly evanescing age while
simultaneously showing the undeniable
progress of an item s evolution in current
"All of the work certainly has a strong design
sensibility," Darbeau says in response to one
of Cuthbert s questions, elaborating, "and I
believe they can stand as beautiful objects,
but it s the obvious usefulness that I love."
In its Artist Portfolios segment, four talents
are showcased: Jowy Maasdamme of Aruba
and the Netherlands, whose female figures
challenge concepts of high fashion; Mirtho
Linguet of French Guiana, presenting photo-
graphs of women wherein "the grotesque is
sexual and beauty is revealed as unexpectedly
rough in its features"; from the Dominican
Republic, Gerard Ellis s paintings draw parallels
with the question Junot Díaz poses in The
Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: "Who
more sci-fi than us?"; while Bahamian Piaget
Moss presents collages made from found mate-
rials that are constructed "in search of balance."
Numerous other gems are tucked between
the glossy pages of this installment in ARC s
oeuvre, notably a sensitive treatment of Steve
McQueen s approach to the artistry of film,
one that delves into his early exper-
imental work as well as
features. Of McQueen s
particular dedication to
ascribing meaning in
cinema, Rajesh Punj
says that the director
"has always sought to
facilitate a situation
unsanctioned acts of
Bynoe s intro-
ment of the cre-
rain and as
reconfirmed with the contributions within
Issue 7. Such publications are perhaps the
thinking person s answer to coffee table
ephemera, presenting art that confronts, peels
back the old skin of tropes to turn stolid ideas
about art curation on their heads. We are the
better for having ARC on our bookshelves, in
the full give and flow of our cultural conver-
sations. Ramlochan is a contributor to
BB AC B
In many ways, the victims are a sideshow
in a detective novel. They re out of the picture.
So how does Lula Landry or Cuckoo measure
up as the victim in JK Rowling s novel The
Cuckoo s Calling, our current Sunday Arts
Section (SAS) Book Club selection?
Although readers must have some sympathy
for the victim, the real stars are the investigator
and his sidekick. In this case, Cormoran Strike,
a war veteran with an amputated leg, and
Robin Ellacott, his temporary secretary who
just got engaged before she entered the detec-
tive business, make up the detective duo.
Lula turns out to be a strange victim. First
of all, Rowling keeps us guessing about her
death. Did she take a 40-foot dive from her
balcony or did someone push her? She s not
the most likeable character. Lula is a model
who lived fast and furiously and hung out
with quirky characters. She squandered many
of her chances in life and didn t deal well with
Holding readers in limbo about Lula s real
demise---whether it was suicide or murder---
creates many questions for readers.
1. Can readers blame Lula s death on depres-
sion or rage? It s all up in the air.
2. Was Lula s curiosity about her past her
downfall or did her relationship with a rapper
lead to her demise?
3. When it comes to Lula, what exactly are
we caring about as readers?
Wrapped up in this simple case of whether
Lula jumped or not is Rowling s take on fame.
1. Why didn t fame and money save Lula?
2. How is it that fame seems to cause a
downward spiral for so many stars? In this
aspect, Rowling s novel is art imitating life.
Equally baffling is Rowling s take on Lula
as a trendsetter, a woman of colour who makes
people reconsider the concept of beauty. This
is a bit odd because the concept of beauty
has embraced women of colour for some time.
Rowling dissects the relationships of her
characters, who all seem to learn that fame
and money don t create happy or lasting rela-
tionships. She carries this theme a step further
by exploring how the different characters try
to find fulfilment in their jobs or careers.
Money certainly isn t the decisive factor
when it comes to happiness.
Generally, the writing itself is quite pedes-
trian, but sometimes Rowling s writing sur-
prises. Consider this sentence: "Strike was
used to playing archaeologist among the ruins
of people s traumatised memories; he had
made himself the confidant of thugs; he had
bullied the terrified, baited the dangerous and
laid traps for the cunning."
There s no doubt about it: The Cuckoo s
Calling creates a gold mine of questions for
book club readers.
1. How do you feel about the reaction of
Matthew (Robin s husband) to Robin s job
with Strike? Should Robin s husband be more
2. What do you make of Rowling s constant
racial references in the novel?
3. Why does Strike have to be an amputee?
How would the story have been different if
he didn t have a physical handicap? Does this
physical handicap give Strike strength or
4. Why does Rowling constantly refer to
the pain Strike has in the stump of his leg?
Does this matter to the story in any way?
5. Why doesn t Rowling use Lula s nickname,
Cuckoo, more often in the novel?
Join us in the SAS Book Club group on
Facebook to discuss The Cuckoo s Calling.
y o o A Boo C
o o o C
y o o
The Cuckoo's questions
Following the ARC
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