[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for sharing this item with us.] Sharine Taylor (LargeUp) writes about Chattabox in her piece “Visual Culture: The Caribbean Creative Renaissance Is Coming to a Screen near You.” Here are excerpts; read the full article at LargeUp:
2017 is a great time to be a creative. You’re only a like or follow away from connecting with other like-minded individuals, and your work has the potential to be seen by a much larger audience than the city, province, parish or country you hail from. But what does this mean for creatives in, or from, the Caribbean? It means they can finally be the ones to curate how they would like their stories to be told to the world. Whether it is making hilarious videos or creating a Twitter page to unite the region, Caribbean creatives are using online content to share their experiences and creations to an audience that is more global than ever.
“I feel like the Caribbean needs to have an authentic voice in mainstream media,” says Raena Bird, the Antiguan creator behind Chattabox. Chattabox is a New York-based, panel-style web talk show featuring people with Caribbean roots discussing a variety of topics. After being frustrated with the limited representation of the Caribbean in the content that she was engaging with, Bird decided to put her background in multimedia and communication art and design into action.
In less than a year, Chattabox has amassed over 11,000 followers on Twitter and plenty of subscribers on YouTube. Their second most-viewed video, W.I vs DEM, takes on the big question of what makes an authentic Caribbean. The panelists, comprised of people born in the Caribbean and the Diaspora, spawned a heated debate about the politics of citizenship and authenticity which was, according to Bird, unplanned. Including panelists who weren’t born in the Caribbean, but who have Caribbean heritage, was not intentional. But, through casting, the chosen candidates just happened to be of the Diaspora. “Everybody does need to be included because all of us have family that don’t live in the West Indies,” Bird says. “We all do…and I noticed that people outside of the Diaspora rep it even harder than we do.” [. . .]
Losing Patience is a mini web series chronicling the misadventures of Renee Patience, played by singer/songwriter Sevana. Patience is a young millennial woman navigating cultural annoyances within Kingston, Jamaica. Teeqs, the show’s producer, writer and director, along with co-producer Natalie Nash, want to change the dynamic of Caribbean representation as well as the local television industry in Jamaica. With many years of production experience to their credit, they used Losing Patience as a means to transform how people think about both Caribbean content and its content creators and to ensure that they were filling the gaps they thought were missing.
“People come to Jamaica, or wherever else in the Caribbean, and they tell our stories through their own gaze without understanding the things that inform the way that we operate within our society,” Teeqs says. After working on many films and documentaries, she wants Losing Patience to be on the frontiers of change. “It’s not a single thing that defines Jamaica or the Caribbean… We know that we need to be seen properly and, as Caribbean creatives, we are going to make that change now.” Nash adds: “Our cultural reach is insane for the smallness of our island. We appreciate that we have that kind of place in the world. But, just like with anywhere else, we have a multitude of stories…We’re ready to tell another Jamaican story.”
The series, filmed in just two days, required a certain kind of specificity to speak to a particular audience whose narrative is often left untold. “There’s this dichotomy in Kingston society where, yes, you have the poor, you also have the middle and upper classes existing but we don’t get to see that middle class and hear anything of that experience,” Teeqs says. “[In the middle class] you’re kind of riding that boundary between the two and I wanted to explore the weirdness in that space in Kingston society, because no one’s ever really addressed it.” [. . .]
For full article, see http://www.largeup.com/2017/08/14/the-caribbean-creative-renaissance