By Maria Piacente, VP Exhibitions, Lord Cultural Resources
Recently, there has been much hype around a small body of water located at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto as part of the Experience Canada Program. The so-called “fake lake” that we created for the G8/G20 Accredited Media Centre has become infamous across the nation and the world. It’s been interesting to read the reportage around what started out as a simple design element – a water feature created as part of an overall series of experiences that tells a particular story of Canada that is responds to the goals of our client and the opportunity to communicate to the international media. Although the water feature is but a part of a larger “exhibit” that includes investment and technology excellence, it has truly taken on a life of its own.
While all forms of cultural production are loaded with meaning depending on the context in which it is created and consumed (not to mention the identities of the creators and patrons), the controversy of the “fake lake” makes clear that culture is not a separate realm of its own, but sits rather at the intersection of economics and politics. What is particularly interesting in this instance is how the water feature has become the convergence point of so many interconnected discourses of governance, politics, economics and the public interest.
Notice the africell adverts painted all over the buildings
By Joy Bailey.
At the end of the 20th century, air conditioning was named as the number one invention that changed the world. For sure, as I melted in the markets of Bo, I wish that were true. But I would argue that the most important invention, at least the one that has brought about the most revolutionary change in the 21st century is the cell phone. In Freetown, most of the population doesn’t have electricity or running water, let alone something so luxurious as air conditioning. But everyone, from the smallest primary school student to the most elderly has intimate knowledge of Africell, Vodaphone, and MTN– they “Top Up” at stands and for 2,000 Leones ($.75) you’ve got 100 units of talk/ operation time.
No matter where you live or your monthly salary, cell phones enable their users to stay connected to each other, to share information– to me this is freedom. Continue reading →
Joy Bailey, Senior Consultant with Lord Cultural Resources, is in Sierra Leone.
By Joy Bailey
Culture is about living. In Sierra Leone, people pack supplies, groceries, knapsacks, any and everything on their head, tie their babies onto their backs and go about the day, just as they did hundreds of years ago. Neat rows of people traversing the streets, parcels up top, hands-free, talking on cellphones, yelling about the world cup. I watched this parade as we rode to the beach today. We drove about an hour outside of Freetown– through the city center, past the countless billboards for Africell and Comium until the roads cleared of vehicles and just became people, goats, and dogs.
Our intention was to lay out, drink, enjoy some lobsters with some expats, and relax. But as we sat, lolling in the naturally formed pool on beach #2, I kept looking out at the Atlantic thinking this might have been the beach from which my ancestors left the African continent, chained and bound for a distant land, never to return. But laying there in that swirl, I had one of those “ah-ha moments.” My ancestors LIVED here. They didn’t just get kidnapped and sold into slavery here. They LIVED. They were fishermen, hunters, traders, farmers, and yes, they packed their goods on their heads and went about their day. Continue reading →
The Indigenous people of the Canary Islands weren’t completely ‘wiped out’ by the Spaniards in the 15th century but have in fact survived until today- but this story is not the one being told. By Barry Lord.
Alonso Fernandez de Lugo presenting the native kings of Tenerife to Ferdinand and Isabella. Image in the interior of the ''ayuntamiento'' of San Cristobal de La Laguna, Tenerife
The Canary Islands are named for the Canari, a Berber nation in the north Atlas mountains (now in Morocco) whom the Roman historian Pliny the Elder described as the original inhabitants of the islands. Pliny was right, because white people from Africa with Berber linguistic characteristics were the people whom the Spaniards discovered when they invaded the islands, beginning in 1402. The conquest took most of the century, concluding in 1496 in Tenerife, where the fighting was hardest and longest. The Spanish troops were well trained in killing, having been transferred from the killing fields of Flanders. At the end of the Canarian fighting many went on to further slaughter in the Americas — due to the currents and winds the Canaries were the usual first stop for voyages from Spain to the Americas, including the first voyage of Columbus.
The lifestyle of the guanches, as the indigenous people were called, is classified as “neolithic”, but it was a relatively advanced neolithic culture with pottery and fishing boats, agriculture and herds of pigs, goats and sheep. They were also fierce warriors, against each other as well as the Spaniards. Spanish losses are said to have been proportionately far greater than in the Indies.
For a history or archaeology museum, there are two ways to present the story of the Canaries, as one of discontinuity, or one of continuity: Continue reading →
NONTSIKELELO "LOLO" VELEKO, Vuyelwa, 2004 from Always Moving Forward: Contemporary African Photography from the Wedge Collection
By Ngaire Blankenberg
Saturday was a day of contrasts. My kids and I visited a ‘faux’ refugee camp (‘Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City’) that Medecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders had set up at our neighbourhood park. Visitors (reportedly thousands) had an opportunity to see what life in a refugee camp is like by walking through an actual shelter, latrine, health clinic, food distribution area etc. The tour guides were MSF staff who had first-hand experience working in real camps. It was an excellent way for people to catch a glimpse into the refugee experience. For me, the most disturbing moment was in the first 5-minutes of the hour-long ‘tour’, when our little group of parents with their kids Continue reading →