I am a graphic designer and contemporary artist living and working in Trinidad and Tobago. I am the publisher of the online art magazine Draconian Switch (www.artzpub.com), a co-founder of Trinidad and Tobago’s Erotic Art Week exhibition, and collaborator in the Alice Yard contemporary art-space initiative. Noted exhibitions include the Bienal Internacional de Asuncion 2015, (Paraguay), the Jamaica Biennial 2014, Season of Renewal, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica; the Global Africa Project, Museum of Art and Design (MAD), New York, USA; Who Was That Masked Man Anyway, Alice Yard, Port of Spain (http://www.richardmarkrawlins.com/who-was-that-masked-man-anyway/ ), Trinidad & Tobago. I have also participated in the Vermont Studio Center residency.
For the past nine years, I have been exploring the cultural poetics and politics of life in Trinidad and Tobago. Inspiration is culled from the streets: I borrow from signage, torn and washed out political fliers and hoardings, the decay of abandoned residences and the nasty, garbage-stained sidewalks of Port of Spain (Trinidad’s capital city). My work is also very much influenced by the word on the street; it will often be marked by texts that parrot anything from the ill-advised soundbytes of elected public officials’ private cellphone conversations, to the everyday musings of the man in the street, as well as the sensationalist headlines of the day. http://www.richardmarkrawlins.com/didyuhhearyuhself My work has documented the politics surrounding the building of Port of Spain’s spanking new shiny buildings and edifices by an influx of Chinese immigrant labour (http://www.richardmarkrawlins.com/chinese-worker-2010/); examined the cultural nuances and subversive nature of the aural Caribbean gesture known as the STEUPPPS (http://www.richardmarkrawlins.com/steupps-an-essay/) and the hand gesture known as the MEGEE (http://www.richardmarkrawlins.com/mega-megee-2012/) ; attempted to provoke a voting populace to vote against an incumbent government through a series of works created in the style of political (http://www.richardmarkrawlins.com/button-project-2010/) buttons, and – most recently – started interrogating black personal identity as programming via ubiquitous foreign media and popular culture. (http://www.richardmarkrawlins.com/046-finding-black)
My populist gaze comes from a desire to record a rapidly changing society. Our national collective memory is short. We never stop to take stock of where we are, or, where we’re going. Unfortunately, I think we are doomed to repeat our mistakes. My role as an artist in this society is to create work which responds to this phenomenon and to share it to as wide an audience as possible, through the traditional gallery space, non-traditional public spaces, and collaborative social media experiments.