Skip to Main Content
University of Essex Logo

Exhibitions & Events

New Art in Context sessions at 'Karmadavis: Art, Justice, Transition', 26 January - 10 March 2013

2.1-2013Accompanying our exhibition is a series of ‘art in context’ sessions led by students from the University of Essex to engage with visitors every Saturday and Sunday from 10-5pm. 

The students hail from the School of Philosophy and Art History and the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studiesand they will be on hand in the University Space at firstsite to answer any questions you may have about the exhibition.  The sessions will be every Saturday and Sunday from 10-5pm starting the 26th January until the 10th March when the exhibition ends.   
All welcome! 

Young Art Kommunity (Y.A.K.) responds to our karmadavis exhibition, 1 - 28 February 2013

Come and join Y.A.K. for the launch of their response to ESCALA’s karmadavis exhibition at firstsite this Friday 1 February from 7pm onwards. The project is for This One Wall, Colchester's street wall gallery. 

The project has been a collaboration between 15 Queen Street, firstsite, ESCALA, and the University of Essex Outreach Team. As part of the project Kate Beckwith, Art Education Outreach Officer at the University of Essex, hosted a visit by YAK members to the Colchester Campus and guest artist Marina Barsy Janer developed workshops with firstsite Associate Artist Mandy Roberts. Marina, an MA Curating Latin American Art student in the School of Philosophy and Art History, is also ESCALA’s karmadavis Project Officer and a performance artist who focuses on the interaction of the body in space; its limits and reactions towards the given environment and conditions. 


For more information about the people involved and the great things they do, please see the links below:  
15 Queen Street 
This One Wall 
Young Art Kommunity 
University of Essex Outreach Team 

ESCALA would like to thank the following people: 
Marina Barsy Janer, guest artist and ESCALA karmadavis Project Officer, School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex 
Kate Beckwith, University of Essex Outreach Team 
Alex Davis, 15 Queen Street 
Mandy Roberts, Associate Artist, firstsite 
all of the members of the Young Art Kommunity 
and David pérez karmadavis 

Images: Young Art Kommunity at Firstsite and near the gates of Colchester.

Young Art Kommunity (Y.A.K.) responds to our Karmadavis exhibition

SYMPOSIUM: Art and Politics in Hispaniola, 9 March 2013

The end of karmadavis: Art, Justice, Transition, will be marked on Saturday 9 March by a one-day symposium at firstsite. In response to the exhibition, the day offers an opportunity to learn more about issues relating to the island of Hispaniola through presentations on art, literature, human rights, migration and the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 

We are delighted that David pérez karmadavis will join us from Guatemala via Skype in the afternoon to give a performative presentation involving postgraduate students from the University of Essex. 

We are equally pleased to welcome Bridget Wooding, OBE, who will join us in person from the Dominican Republic where she is Coordinator of the Caribbean Migrants Observatory programme (OBMICA), which is jointly supported by the Latin American Social Sciences Faculty (FLASCO) and the Iberoamerican University in Santo Domingo. 

From the UK we will hear from Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli, University of Essex, one of the exhibition’s curators, who is writing a book on the literary history of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Professor Andrew Leak, a specialist in Haitian literature and politics from University College London and Leah Gordon, co-curator of Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou at Nottingham Contemporary.  

Attendance at the symposium is free but we request that you register by emailing for the purposes of catering. Morning and afternoon tea and coffee will be provided and we will supply a list of places nearby for lunch, including firstsite’s own café, MUSA. 

The day will include an opportunity to view karmadavis: Art, Justice, Transition and to see a film produced by firstsite’s Young.Art.Kommunity (Y.A.K.) in response to the exhibition. 

The conference will run from 10:15am - 5pm.  

The exhibition has been curated by Dr Sanja Bahun and Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli from the University of Essex and is a collaboration between ESCALA, Essex Transitional Justice Network and the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex. 


9:45 - 1:15 Coffee on arrival 
10:15 - 11:15 Panel One 
Dr Sanja Bahun (Co-Convenor of Essex Transitional Justice Network, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex) 
'Art and Politics: Preliminary Remarks' 
Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli (Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex) 
'Negotiating the Border: David pérez karmadavis and Jean-Philippe Moiseau' 
11:15 - 11:30 Coffee break 
11:30 - 12:30 Panel Two 
Professor Andrew Leak (Department of French, University College London) 
'Sweet Micky: The Performance of Power' 

Leah Gordon (Artist, Independent Curator, and Division of Art and Design, University of Bedfordshire) 
'Exhibiting Haitian art: Kafou (Nottingham Contemporary); In Extremis (Fowler Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles; Ghetto Biennale (Port au Prince, Haiti), and Haitian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale' 
12:30 - 1:30 Lunch break and time to view the exhibition with the karmadavis: Art, Justice, Transition Art-in-Context Officer 
1:30 - 2:45 Key Note Address 
Bridget Wooding (OBE) (Caribbean Migrants Observatory Programme, OBMICA) 
'Embrace the hyphen? A case study on statelessness with regard to the Haitian diaspora in the Dominican Republic' 
2:45 - 3:00 Comfort break and time to view the exhibition with the karmadavis Art-in-Context Officer 
3:00 - 4:30 Panel Three 
Dr Joanne Harwood (Director of ESCALA) Introduction to Panel Three and Film by firstsite's Young Art Kommunity (YAK), inspired by the exhibition 
David pérez karmadavis video presentation of artworks with English translation 
Marina Barsy Janer (School of Philosophy and Art History) and Rasha Alshalabi (Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies) in conversation with David pérez karmadavis via Skype followed by questions from students from the University of Essex 
4:30 - 5:00 Q & A with all speakers and questions from the audience 
5:00 Symposium ends 

Image: David pérez karmadavis, Al Tramo Izquierdo (On the left-hand side), 2007

'Mind the Gap' - Associated event with Awilda Sterling Duprey in Puerto Rico, 2 May 2013

The ‘MIND THE GAP’: performative-symposium at firstsite on 2 May 2012, will now feature an associated event that will happen simultaneously in Puerto Rico. Artist Awilda-Sterling Duprey will perform her piece ‘Vejigante decrépito’ for both a virtual audience in firstsite, Colchester and a live audience in the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Duprey’s performance will be followed by a round table of discussion on current performance art in Puerto Rico including researchers, theorists, philosophers, curators. The conversation will be filmed and available in the future both in the MAC’s archive and in ESCALA’s archive as a donation. 
This event is related to 'Coreografía del error, CONDUCTA de Viveca Vázquez' with Taller de Otra Cosa at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico from the 19 - 21 April 2013. 
Please note the performance will take place at 10:00am-12:00pm (Time in Puerto Rico) and be broadcast at firstsite at 2:55pm (UK time).  


Av. Juan Ponce de León, esquina Ave. Roberto H. Todd 
Parada 18 San Juan, 00910, Puerto Rico 
Tel. +1 787-977-4030 


Awilda Sterling-Duprey is an award-winning Puerto Rican folklorist-choreographer and fine artist whose work is internationally recognized for its ability to profile the everyday lives of those marginalized by society. Recently she has integrated the orixas of Cuban and Puerto Rican Santería into experimental and contemporary aesthetics. She was a founding member of Stomp, the first experimental dance collective in Puerto Rico, and has been a guest artist in Taller de Otra Cosa. She has performed in the United States, the Americas, and Europe. In 2010, she was awarded the United States Artists Fellows grant. 


Lilliana Ramos Colladois the Chief Curator of the Puerto Rico Museum of Contemporary Art and tenured Professor of art and architecture theory and history at the School of Architecture, in the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras Campus and professor of art and literature for the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe. She is also a poet, writer and theorist. She has published Poemas para despabilar cándidos (1981) and Reróticas (1998); cultural commentaries for various professional journals, magazines, catalogues and books; and has directed the Editorial of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, and has been senior editor of the magazine ArtPremium, amongst others. Some of her most recent books are: Jean-Michel Basquiat: una antología para Puerto Rico (2006), and Careos/Relevos: 25 años del Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (2010). 

Lowell Fiet currently heads the Interdisciplinary Studies Program and teaches in the English and Drama Departments of the College of Humanities at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras Campus. He is founding editor of Sargasso and the theatre critic of the weekly newspaper Claridad. His most recent books are El teatro puertorriqueño reimaginado: Notas críticas sobre la creación dramática y el performance (2004) and Caballeros, Vejigantes, Locas y Viejos: Santiago Apóstol y los performeros afro-puertorriqueños (2007). 

Rey Emmanuel Andújar is a Dominican writer, and performer who has collaborated and worked in Puerto Rico. He has been researching the connection between body, writing, language and literature. His several fiction works have won various awards such as Candela (Puerto Rican Pen Club Award, Best Novel 2009); Amorcidio (Santo Domingo International Book Fair Fiction Award 2006); Saturnario (Ultramar Short Fiction Literature Prize, New York 2010) and UGDU (Santo Domingo International Book Fair Fiction Award 2011). His performance ‘Ciudadano Cero’ was the inaugural performance of the Puerto Rican International Theatre Festival in 2007. His interdisciplinary work ‘Antípoda’ has been shown in the Caribbean, United States and Europe. 

Eduardo Alegría is an actor, performer, dancer and musician. He created postmodern dance and performance pieces both in San Juan, Puerto Rico and in New York, United States during the 1990s. In Puerto Rico, he was the founding member of the music group Superaquello and active member of Taller de Otra Cosa, experimental dance and performance group. He produced on 2011 “Esquina periferia” [Periphery Corner], a theatre-performance and music piece supported by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, from which his current musical project Alegría Rampante was born. 

José (Pepe) Álvarez Colón focuses on dance, theatre and performance. He has a BA in Individualized Studies in Dance, Theatre and Multimedia of the University of Puerto Rico and an Interdisciplinary MA in Theatre and the Live Arts of the National University of Colombia. His most recent works are ‘Jardín de Fraudes Lentos’ (presented in Puerto Rico and in the 3rd Encuentro of Theatre and Live Arts of the National University of Colombia 2011-12) and ‘Lengua Me Traba’ (presented in Coribantes Theatre and in the Theatre of the University of Puerto Rico as well as in the 7th Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Bogotá 2008-09). He is active member of Taller de Otra Cosa and was founding member of the dance company, Hincapié and Jóvenes del 98 theatre group. 

Freddie Mercado is a visual artist, costume designer, and performer, who uses his body to transform himself into the live canvas. His provocative performances have travelled to United States, Latin America and Spain. His everyday appearances in galleries and public spaces are known for their anthropomorphic and gendered transformations on the body. He has designed numerous costumes for artists and dance and theatre companies nationally and internationally. Mercado teaches on the School of Visual Arts of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. 

Further speakers to be confirmed. Please keep checking our website or email Marina Barsy Janer at

Image: Presentation at associated Mind the Gap event in Puerto Rico.

MIND THE GAP: Associated event with Awilda Sterling Duprey in Puerto Rico

'Mind the Gap' Performative Symposium and Workshop, 2 May 2013

The symposium will explore performance art tendencies through the presentation and study of performance art from Puerto Rico, featuring live and virtual performances by three artists and discussion by speakers from the University of Essex and Goldsmiths, University of London.

Established writer, actor and theatre director Aravind Adyanthaya will participate with a live performance of 'Prometheus Bound' using his well known escritura acto (Writing Act) on-stage computerized writing technique. Choreographer of folk afro-Caribbean dances Awilda Sterling-Duprey, appearing live via Skype from the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (MAC), will perform her famous piece 'Vejigante decrépito', and international maskmaker and puppeteer Deborah Hunt will show a video-recorded performance of her work ‘The Package’ shown in festivals around Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Aravind Adyanthaya will also talk about his work and cultural project in Puerto Rico, Casa Cruz de la Luna.

‘MIND THE GAP’ is curated by Marina Barsy Janer in collaboration with the
 Centre for Curatorial Studies (CCS) at the University of Essex and the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America.

Thursday 2 May 2013
firstsite, Colchester
2:00 - 6:00pm

Attendance is free.  All welcome. 


Aravind will give a free two-hour workshop on his technique of escritura acto(Writing Act) at the Lakeside Theatre Studio, University of Essex, on Thursday 2nd May from  10:30am – 12:30pm.

This  workshop would  be  suitable  for  anyone  interested  in  creative  writing,  literature, theatre, and performance. It will explore the technique of ‘Writing Act’, a form of theatrical poetics  that  investigates  the staging  of  the  act  of  writing.  Through  the  use  of  a  video projection the written on the computer becomes the setting.

Participants will need to bring a laptop.

If you do not have one, please get in touch and we will try to help.

Places are limited. To book your place, please contact Marina Barsy Janer at by 22nd April.


Aravind Adyanthaya

Adyanthaya is a Puerto Rican writer, performer, and theatre director who has performed internationally, including in the USA, Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Peru. He has won 17 awards and fellowships nationally and internationally and has held 17 workshops related to his practice. Since 2002 he has published five academic publications and six works of fiction and play scripts.

Marina Barsy Janer, Curator

Marina Barsy Janer is a Puerto Rican artist currently developing a Master’s Degree on Curating Latin American Art on the University of Essex researching performance art. She has been member of the dance company Hincapié and recently has collaborated with firstsite, giving performance workshops for Y.A.K. Currently she works with ESCALA.

Dr Rebecca Breen

Rebecca Breen specializes in contemporary art from Latin America and completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge (2011). Her research focuses on the intersections between conceptualist art practice by women artists and testimonio, or testimonial narrative literature from Latin America in the twentieth-century. Rebecca further holds an MPhil from the University of Cambridge (2003), for which she wrote a dissertation on the visual work of Frida Kahlo. Rebecca has previously lectured at the University of Limerick, Éire, from which university she also received her primary degree (2002).

Deborah Hunt

Deborah Hunt is a maskmaker, puppeteer and performance artist with 35 years’ experience in the creation and presentation of original theatre and performance works. Born in New Zealand but living in Puerto Rico since the 1990s, she is a member of the Magdalena Project, Founder and Artistic Director of MASKHUNT Inc, and Co-Organiser of the theatrical space Teatro Yerbabruja from 2000 until its closure in 2011. She has worked in Europe, USA, Asia, Australia, Latin America and the Caribbean since 1985. She is winner of the price from the Circle of Theatre Critics in Puerto Rico, 2002. She has recently published the book Más Caras con Máscaras and Títeres, titererías y Gogmagog a manual on puppet fabrication.

Professor Osita Okagbue

Osita Okagbue’s main research interests are in African theatre and performance, theatres and performances of the African Diaspora, postcolonial studies and cultural theory, theatre-for-development and applied theatre, theatres of the world. He is founder and president of the African Theatre Association (AfTA). Some of his publications include Culture and Identity in African and Caribbean Theatre (2009), African Theatres and Performances (2012) and African Theatre: Diasporas (with Christine Matzke 2009), amongst others. He is editor of African Performance Review. Prof Okagbue is based in Goldsmiths, University of London where he is Deputy Head of Department and Director of Postgraduate Studies and Senior Tutor.

Awilda Sterling-Duprey

Sterling-Duprey is an award-winning Puerto Rican folklorist-choreographer and plastic artist whose work is internationally recognized for its ability to profile the everyday lives of those marginalized by society. Recently she has integrated the orixas of Cuban and Puerto Rican Santería into experimental and contemporary aesthetics. She was a founding member of Stomp, the first experimental dance collective in Puerto Rico and has performed in USA, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2010, she was awarded the United States Artists Fellows grant.

Dr Mischa Twitchin

Mischa Twitchin is a founder member of the Shunt collective and freelance lighting-designer, as well as being designer, director, and performer in his own work over the past ten years. Besides performance work, he also teaches at Goldsmiths College and is engaged in academic research on the anthropology of images. Mischa’s research interests mostly address modernist theatre practices, in particular the relation between visual art and theatre practice, puppetry, the relation between voice and gesture, and “post-dramatic” theatres (in, for example, the work of Antonin Artaud, Tadeusz Kantor, Marguerite Duras, Gina Pane, Peter Weibel, and Romeo Castellucci). His current research is concerned with mimesis and iconography – with particular reference to Aby Warburg, Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, and Georges Didi-Huberman.


2:00-2:10 Marina Barsy Janer (Artist and Curator of ''MIND THE GAP', University of Essex)
               Introduction to 'MIND THE GAP': performative-symposium

2:10-2:30 Aravind Adyanthaya (Artist, Founder and Director of Casa Cruz de la Luna)
               'Casa Cruz de la Luna: between community and experimentation'

2:30-2:55 Dr Rebecca Breen (University of Essex)
               'Body-art performance in Latin America today: Ana Mendieta and Regina José
               Galindo in dialogue'

2:55-3:25 Awilda Sterling Duprey (Performer, Choreographer, and Visual Artist)
               'Vejigante Decrépito' / Performance via Skype from the Museo de Arte
               Contemporáneo, Puerto Rico

3:25-3:50 Professor Osita Okagbue (Goldsmiths, University of London)
               'Trance and Possession Rituals of Africa and the African Diaspora: Bori, Voodoo and Santeria'

3:50-4:00 Break and refreshments

4:00-4:25 Deborah Hunt (Performer, Maskmaker, and Puppeteer)
               'The Package' / video recorded performance

4:25-4:50 Mischa Twitchin (Artist and Researcher, Goldsmiths, University of London)
               'After Words'

4:50-5:00 Break

5:00-6:00 Aravind Adyanthaya (Performer, Actor, Writer, and Theatre Director)
               'Prometheus' / live performance

6:00         Performative-Symposium ends

Please note that the audio quality of the presentations, posted below, is of varying quality due to the acoustics in the auditorium.  For this reason we have uploaded the transcript of Adyanthaya's presentation at the end of this page. 


Deborah Hunt, The Package, unipersonal show

Awilda Sterling Duprey, Choreography of Error: CONDUCTA of Vivica Vàzquez 1984

Aravind Adyanthaya’s The Legacy

Mind the Gap: Performative Symposium and Workshop

Exhibition talks for Mexican Migrations

All talks are 2-3pm in the University Space, firstsite and are free. No need to book.

June 29 Pre-Colombian themes in the exhibition: Dr Joanne Harwood

July 13 Focus on Graciela Iturbide: Ana Sol Gonzalez

August 3 Migration themes in the exhibition: Iris Boudier

October 12 Focus on Demián Flores: Ana Bilbao Yarto

Mexican Migrations

Evening Lecture with Dr Adrian Locke, Royal Academy

Dr Adrian Locke, Curator of the exhibition Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940 at the Royal Academy will speak at firstsite on Thursday 18 July at 6:30pm.

Dr Locke will discuss the exhibition, Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940, which explores art in the aftermath of the 1910 revolution, with Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros whose murals symbolized the new ideals, alongside artists like Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and André Breton who travelled to the country.  The exhibition runs from 6 JUly - 29 September in the Sackler Wing of Galleries, Burlington House.  You can find out more information, including ticket prices, here. 

Dr Locke is an alumnus of the School of Philosophy and Art History at the University of Essex, completing his PhD in 2001. He co-curated the exhibition Aztecs at the Royal Academy in 2002. 

Tickets are £5, £3 concessions and free to firstsite members. Please book through firstsite on 01206 577067.  

Day of the dead events for families and young people

Come join us on Saturday 2 November for some Day of the Dead inspired events for families and young people!

We have two events happening on Saturday 2 November for everyone to enjoy.  Families can take part in events in the Education Space from 11am-1pm and 2-4pm.  The activities are free and all you need to do is turn up and take part!

In the evening, there is a Day of the Dead altar competition and fiesta for ages 16+ from 5-8pm in the Education Space at firstsite. Free, but booking is essential as places are limited to 20 people.  Please book on 01206 874438.

Both families and young people will learn the fascinating origins of Mexico's Day of the Dead celebrations.