2nd Ghetto Biennale 2011

2nd Ghetto Biennale 2011

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

is a project by Tracey Moberly
for the ghetto Biennale
Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
December 2011

Boston Massachusetts 2011, I guide a group of people to The Green Dragon Bar. In my bag I'm carrying a tea caddie emblazoned with a photo of newly weds William and Catherine the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and a teapot. Reaching the Green Dragon Bar we all enter inside where I hand out cups of tea to my colleagues and to everyone else in the bar ... Symbolically I reclaim the Boston Tea Party on the very spot where it was planned and played a key role in the lead up to the American Revolution of Independence. The Declaration on 4th July 1776 asserted 'that all wo/men are created equal' with certain inalienable rights - amongst these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Following this symbolic Boston performance I initiate 10 socio-political tea parties across the globe the first of which was held in Haiti as part of the Second Ghetto Biennale in Port-Au-Prince.

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti 2011, I gather a group of artists around a table in an empty swimming pool of a hotel. The swimming pool had been half destroyed by the 2010 earthquake. The newer anti seismic built exterior and half of the hotel had remained intact. Inside the swimming pool tea from the caddie and light refreshments are served on a table covered with a blank canvas cloth scattered with marker pens and the camera is rolling. The guests are invited to air their view points on their vision of the city as members of the Ghetto Biennale, discussing social and political aspects of the country - post earthquake - on this years Biennale theme 'From the Local to the Global.' As people speak on the topics they sketch or write corresponding statements on the cloth. When the Tea Party ends the statements and sketches are embroidered and the cloth dyed. This cloth is then laid and used as the catalyst for debate in the following tea party ...

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I have saved every text message I have ever been sent since 1999 - apart from the first one I accidentally lost - and I continue to save them. An extensive autobiographical book has been published on my texts with my work titled Text-Me-Up! This contains a lot of my work created in and for the Ghetto Biennale; It's Directors and the Haitian Artists work in Haiti and London.

TEXT-ME-UP-SEX-DRUGS & ROCK'N'ROLL forms the sixth in a series of exhibitions based on my text messages and in part comments on the modern celebrity culture that has grown in recent years. The texts are based on six prominent media figures. The artworks are cross-platform textile pieces worked in both traditional embroidery and in the craft of the traditional Vodou flag, the latter in collaboration with Haitian Flag maker Marie Ketty Paul.

All texts for these works are based on the title SEX-DRUGS & ROCK'N'ROLL - worked in the traditional crafts, preserving in great detail the throw away words of our current cellular/ mobile technological culture. The texts selected also highlight our current use of language and linguistics as well as imagery. They preserve a slice of history that would have otherwise been deleted by the push of a button. The intricate artwork also partly focuses on semiotics.

Two of the six subjects whose text messages I used linked into my work in Haiti included my good friends: ex-gay porn star icon, author turned model Aiden Shaw whom I'd just left in Miami on my arrival into Haiti and Howard Mark's ex-drugs trafficker turned author & media figure. Howard and I had been discussing my procuring puffer fish ovaries or it's skin (legally) in Haiti, all based on the writings of ethnobotanist Wade Davis The Serpent and the Rainbow - with the aim of understanding tetrodotoxin (ttx), the neurotoxin found in the puffer fish that if administered through an open wound which sees the Zombification process occur in a living human. A selection of this work includes:

* One of Aiden's text messages was split into three sections for the artwork and made into a triptic:

Sex fills me with germs, 
Drugs fill me with doubt 
Rock'n'Roll fills me with hope

* One of Howard's text which complimented the subject matter and incorporates the puffer fish:

I wish my first experiences of 
sex, drugs and rock'n'roll 
had come at precisely the same 
orgasmic instant

Tracey Moberly

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