Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Sasha Dees

text: email



“Contemporary Art even today is still an activity for the elite in Brazil. The elite are a small group of people that descents from and still owns former plantation properties and/or the fruits of that today. Brazil is a class system, 80% poor people, the “one per centers” and a very small middle class. That with a very poor education system makes that only a few can afford to have good private education in and outside of Brazil. The descendents of the enslaved Africans are still the poor people of today in Brazil. This is even more the case if you talk about the 7% black (preto) people”.

Sasha Dees is looking for black artists in Rio de Janeiro.

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Up Hill Down Hall. Marlon Griffith & Hew Locke


History shows that villages, cities, as well as countries need a diverse population with varied talents and abilities in order to thrive. The work of artists like Griffith and Locke reflect that concept and remind us of the important role that an engaged citizen can play in their community.
Sasha Dees reports from the Tate Modern performances of Marlon Griffith and Hew Locke.

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Deborah Jack


“The resonance of traumatic historical events in my personal and cultural memory is at the very core of my work. I see the work as the result of my investigation of the tension that exists in spaces that are at once sites of trauma and sites of healing. I am intrigued by concept of the “re-memory” (renewed or remembered memory), memory as a trigger and a means for exploring the dismembering of the histories, cultures, traditions, families, and personal memories of my community/self. My work seeks to articulate an historical and cultural injury in a way that tries to avoid and subvert images of suffering and victim-hood that have been used as visual hot buttons in the past. I am interested in seducing the eye by using the scenic aspects of landscape and the potential for the betrayal that can come from closer examination of these seemingly “innocent” and “untouched” places/bodies.” – Deborah Jack.

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Sanford Biggers


Sanford Biggers’ works integrate film/video, installation, sculpture, drawing, original music and performance.  He intentionally complicates issues such as hip hop, Buddhism, politics, identity and art history in order to offer new perspectives and associations for established symbols.  Through a multi-disciplinary formal process, and an equally syncretic creative approach, he makes works or ‘vignettes’ that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are conceptual. I got to know Biggers through a sort of patchwork of conversations as I interacted with him and his work over the years.

Writes Sasha Dees.

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Nicole Awai



“In my early teens, my mother didn’t allow me to wear makeup. Her way of negotiating that was to allow me to wear nail polish. The nail polish was more than an accessory, it was a creative outlet and it became an expression of my identity. In 2002 when I realized that I was still in possession of a bottle of nail polish that I had since I was 15 years old, I started to think about the ways in which women use cosmetics as a means of personal codification. I originally made paintings in which I used and arranged the nail polish colors into a map legend of sorts and called it ‘The Sensation Code’. The code would imply further possible narrative directions in the work. I was plaing with language, with the viewer’s expectation for familiar canons – Awai spreads her fingers wide open looking at her transparent flesh/pinky colored polished nails – and sometimes a nail polish name would start off an idea for a work or,  when seeing a name on a bottle, one of the ideas that I am working on would come to mind and it would become part of it.”

Sasha Dees in conversation with Trini-American Nicole Awai.


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