Outside of that Jamaican people are nomadic from ever since, like historically. So it’s kind of just in our blood as well and that’s something I recognized while I was there. There were so many people there who, somewhere in their background, they can tell you of some type of Jamaican blood that they have, and I’m saying that’s just the nature of people. We’re in that time again where people really want to move around and stuff. So for me personally it was really just an eye opener to be able to see a different kind of melting pot because Jamaica is, in and of itself, a melting pot. But for some people it can really feel like an island prison because it’s really difficult to leave at the same time.
So countries like that now, where people gather from as south as Africa to as north as Scandinavian nations, straight over, coming into central spaces like Berlin, you can see how it reflects in the physical spaces. From the walls, the art on the walls, the way they organize their spaces, the structure of the city, the way they tackle issues like gentrification between the different cultures, it's all just very unique. Some of these things you never recognize here in Jamaica, you never even recognize gentrification on Hope Road until you see what it means to a set of people who have to deal with it over cultural lines and not just geographic lines. You come back and you start to question certain things in your local space. It just was a real eye opener to [see] how diverse life on this planet can be.
Walk us through some of your activities. I know you had some exhibitions and you did some murals, so talk about that in detail.
Well, the whole purpose of traveling was to be a part of a group of talented visual artists who are among a larger group of talented artists, to represent what is happening currently with contemporary art, music, photography, just Jamaican aesthetic. The tour was called the United Purpose Tour but it really was a tour of individuals who had very unique perspectives on various art forms. Whether it be music with Italee, photography with Jik or new age holistic medicine with Peter or fine art with Dan. It was really just an experience that allowed us in our own unique ways to express ourselves. For me personally, from day one we had this roster of events that we were supposed to do and spaces to go to, but by the time we got there, there were so many other spaces that started to pop up that we ended up doing really unique things quite often. I have to say first it was not just my exhibition in any shape or form. Almost every space we went to ended up becoming a collaboration between all of these members.
The first place we went to was Kunst St. Pauli Gallery in the heart of St. Pauli, Germany. St. Pauli is actually very close to Jamaica in terms of how it operates. The people there are very rootical and roots about their city. Like being in Kingston, it can be a bit grimy but there is a lot of tradition and culture. There’s like street art there that becomes t-shirts that everybody wears. It's that kind of environment. The guy who owns it, Harry, he allowed us to take over this living room type space with black walls. It’s something that you would find in a type of downtown urban space. It was really a space that I think all of us went into and felt very familiar. This was somebody who was from a very different world than us and he was open to whatever it is that we were going to bring. We were tasked to set up an exhibition of a lot of the Sankofa Sessions artworks, a lot of my personal prints and posters of stuff I’ve been doing over the years, as well as doing live painting in the space and helping Daniel set up his exhibition. It was our first exhibition and we pulled it off. It was really cool. A lot of people came through from the local creative community. We made links there too that helped us to continue going as well.
The second space we went to was Reggae Jam, which was really interesting. Very cool organization to let us bring so much art and ideas to the platform. We were stationed on what some would consider a market ground but it was so open, there was a lot of space. We had this round tent and we set up all the artworks in it from different places. It just ended up becoming this collaborative space.
Then we went to Yaam in Berlin. It was off the chain. Big up to the DJs of I-Revelation Sound. Big up Barney Miller. They were the DJs who were across the way from us at Reggae Jam and, by the time Reggae Jam was done, they had told us they were the DJs for Yaam. So by the time we got to Yaam we met up with them again but the whole space was really amazing. A lot of cultural stuff happens there. A lot of culture and different nationalities pass through, like Trini people, Bajan people, Jamaican people, African people, Indians - just so many different cultures coming together in one place. The space has been around for a very long time, and it keeps moving around to different places, but it’s so radical the way that they behave about the whole thing because they just squat the place.
So they don’t own it?
They don’t really own it, they just squat it and then they just build this entire creative hub. They allowed us to do an exhibition around by the peach bar section. They had an actual exhibition space, it was organized by a really brilliant creative instigator, Alesh. He put us into contact with a lot of cool artists. And also big up to Kai Hillman who gave us the real Berlin experience. But Yaam is an amazing space. Then there was Skandalos, which was an amazing indie festival, same procedure. Then we went to Rototom, which was insane. That was wild.
Talk about that experience. Were you aware that Protoje would be calling you on stage?