Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Marlon Griffith is awarded Commonwealth International
Artist Residency.

Marlon Griffith awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

photo by Gerard Gaskin

Often characterized as "midcareer" awards, Guggenheim Fellowships
are intended for men and women who have already demonstrated
exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.


"LOUIS"(from the Powder Box "Schoolgirl Series")
The large format portraits of Marlon Griffith's Powder Box series, feature uniformed schoolgirls whose chest and bodies are covered with baby powder. West Indian working class women are known to generously apply baby powder to their bodies as a symbol of cleanliness. Here I conceived it as a performative and participatory act, stencils are made in the pattern of fashion brand logos and decorative motifs, then applied to the body.
The resulting white colored designs adorning their dark skin provide a strong critique on race and the the increasig socio-economic devide affecting the middle and working class.
The piece has a beautiful resonace, just by the juxtaposition of the ephemereal/eternal the expansive/free around class rivalry ...a real carnival gesture.
The Powder Box 2009, 32"x48", digital print, photography by Gerard Gaskin

excerpt from film "Spring in Gwanju" by filmmaker Caecilia Tripp

Photo: Akiko Ota

Runaway Reaction is a term used in physics to describe a process, which involves a chemical reaction that leads to the self-combustion of organic matter. This process has been used as a metaphor to describe the reactions of the Gwanju Student Protests in Korea, and the Canboulay riots in Trinidad. Both involved mass demonstrations and revolts that lead to positive reactions. One being the Democratic movement in Korea from being a military state, and the other being the Post–Emancipation Trinidad tradition of Carnival, which has become a platform for social commentary and self-expression. Both are positive results from the intense situations.
This explosion is articulated by the many extensions which are actually placed in critical parts of the body which if actually pierced will caused great bodily harm such as the stomach, lungs, head and heart, etc. It also articulates the many inflictions against people that lead to the traditions and political systems we know today. The phalanx of costumed masqueraders is to perform slow, dragging movements, almost to instill the struggle and battle, and look untouchable because of their sharp projections…

Runaway/Reaction was part of 'SPRING' in the Gwangju Biennale 2008 curated by Claire Tancons. Duration 90 min/50 participants, May18 Democratic Square,Gwanju, South Korea.


"A Walk into the Night" video by James Tayler

Photo: Mark Wessels
Inspired by the traditions of the Cape Town and Trinidad carnivals and West African shadow masquerade it was conceived by Marlon Griffith as an "invisible masquerade". A Walk Into the Night is an inventive shadow play, with various elements worn or carried by a multitude of a hundred participants, casting shadows onto horizontal and vertical planes along the itinerary of the procession, from hand-held white screens, to buildings, the sidewalk and the ground,
participants and audience. The project told the story of the forced removals in Cape Town. But it is also an invisible masquerade that reveals a day in life of the migratory inhabitants of the city and a stroll along the spaces that punctuate our existence. The project was curated by Claire Tancons and music composed by Garth Erasmus(CPT). This project was a part of CAPE 09.
60 min/100 participants, Company Gardens, CapeTown, South Africa.


Symbiosis responds critically and poetically to the socio-cultural environment I encountered here in Jamaica, in the tumultuous aftermath of the September general elections. An unexpected but poignant metaphor is found in the doctor bird, Jamaica’s national bird, which is fiercely territorial and aggressively defends its turf against its rivals, actual and perceived. The beautiful but belligerent hummingbird thus stands for the territorialism – national, political, class-based and otherwise – which I had observed in Jamaican society and, indeed, the entire Caribbean. It has proved a fertile metaphor: the sharp-edged outlines of the dueling doctor birds have turned into elegant abstracted fretwork patterns that bring to mind parasitic tropical plants and, thus, powerfully evoke the uneasy tension-filled interdependency between competing social groups that shapes contemporary Caribbean societies.

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