In Fall 2019, Het Nieuwe Instituut joined forces with Tilting Axis to offer a Fellowship to one mid-career or established applicant based in the Caribbean. Barbadian multi-disciplinary designer and architect Israel Mapp has been selected as the recipient of the Tilting Axis /Het Nieuwe Instituut Fellowship 2023. Israel Mapp will begin the Fellowship at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam starting February 2023 and will continue his research and activities through July 2023.
The fellowship is supported by Het Nieuwe Instituut as lead partner and host, and will include collaborations with its partners, the Amsterdam Museum, De Appel, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Kunstinstituut Melly. By the deadline for the application on May 27th 2022, Het Nieuwe Instituut and Tilting Axis received 9 eligible entries in response to the open call, from eight territories in the Caribbean region: Barbados, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Suriname, The Bahamas, and Trinidad & Tobago.
All the proposals were reviewed by a committee composed of the following members:
- Aric Chen, Artistic and General Director, Het Nieuwe Instituut
- Setareh Noorani, Researcher, Het Nieuwe Instituut
- Iyawo (Holly Bynoe Young), Sour Grass and Tilting Axis co-founder
- Annalee Davis, Visual Artist, Founding Director of Fresh Milk, Sour Grass and Tilting Axis co-founder
- Jessy Koeiman, Curator Collective Learning, Kunstinstituut Melly
- Mark Raymond, Director of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa
- Huib Haye van der Werf (Interim Director), Director at De Appel
- Inez van der Scheer, Junior Curator of Contemporary Art, Amsterdam Museum
- Charl Landvreugd, Head of Research and Curatorial Practice, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Submissions and interviews were evaluated based on their ability to present a clear proposal outlining their thinking, projected investigation, and how the fellowship would expand and enrich their practice. Four candidates were shortlisted and invited to an online interview with members of the selection committee on 22nd June 2022. Following the interviews, the committee selected Israel Mapp as the recipient of the 2023 fellowship. The other shortlisted candidates were Dayana Trigo Rames (Cuba), Jorge Pablo Lima (Cuba) and Miguel E. Keerveld (Suriname).
The members of the jury were impressed by the spirited and dynamic nature of the projects, as well as the ambition of the applicants. The set of applications showed a variety of working methodologies and media, ranging from installations and architectural designs to the role of curating as an artist and various forms of social, political and symbolic public engagements and activism.
The jury was pleased to have received applications from applicants based across three linguistic territories of the Caribbean. Submissions responded to urgent themes including the climate emergency, colonialism, social consciousness, material cultures and architectural innovations found in nature, histories and literature.
The shortlisted projects investigated the nature of pathology in design, knowledge building within collective and co-creative practices, the role of architecture within ecology and embodied knowledge along with exploring non-extractive material considerations in the era of climate emergency.
Comments on the Selected Proposal
Israel Mapp’s proposal “Above Oceans” was supported unanimously during the interview process because of its considerations around material cultures and their connection to tangible and intangible heritages. The clarity expressed along with his poetic, empathetic and human-led explorations made his exchange with the jury memorable. In addition, Mapp was able to expand on his idea of creative placemaking in a meaningful way connecting several of his unique interests to the strengths of each partner institution.
This opportunity to engage in more intimate and nuanced ways with partner institutions is something that is very attractive to the legacy of the Fellowship. His inquiries and curiosities deal with the very real eco-challenges that are being faced by every Caribbean nation. “Above Oceans” points to material culture as praxis and identity and the urgency around forming community and institutional support using generative, open and humanist value systems.
His ambition includes embracing new learning through the introduction of labs which will create a growing reference library and continued opportunity to develop resources that can bring more wholeness and unification to the creative landscape of Barbados through exchange and co-ideation/co-creation. Collectively the jury was thrilled by Mapp's interest in reworking clay, fibres from native flora, and limestone found in colonial architectural forms, and in re-presenting these materials in ways that will engage in an ethos connected to a regenerative circular design, that will involve creating more adaptive spaces that embody unlearning and transformation for these urgent times.
On receiving the news that he had been awarded the fellowship, Mapp shared this statement with the jury:
"Above Oceans is not the beginning, it is a point along an exploratory journey for me recognizing and acknowledging how landscape influences Barbadian identity.
I truly enjoyed developing the "Above Oceans" proposal for the Tilting Axis Fellowship. It was a process of introspection and discovery working towards an alignment of love, joy, my talents and interests, and the needs of community.
I am equally thankful for the Tilting Axis | Het Nieuwe Instituut Team for taking the time and effort to consider, analyze and inquire with interest about Above Oceans. Receipt of critical feedback from one’s peers has always been an empowering experience for me. It often provides multiple and diverse perspectives that one would have not considered, drills down to the details that matter and ultimately adds more value and depth to the initial idea. Good design comes about when good questions are presented. This process with The Jury was insightful, and inspired me to review, refine and develop the proposal with the view to implement in Barbados. They asked great questions.
I am extremely grateful for and accept this gift and opportunity to continue and expand the work I have been doing in Barbados to which the fellowship will provide. It is also one of meaningful exchange, exploration and discovery; experiences that I value and contribute greatly to my work. My practice calls for experimentation and the exploration of the possibilities; working in the creative environment of Rotterdam will be an excellent observatory and laboratory.
The next six months will be critical in the planning of the fellowship beginning 2023. In addition to having access to the resources of Het Nieuwe Instituut, the partnering organisations and building new relationships, I look forward to taking opportunities for research and development, and collaborations towards approaches in architectural-product design routed innately in Barbadian material culture and a parallel track on understanding the development and operations of creative clusters. I look forward to sharing the fellowship and its fruits with my peers across the ocean."
Israel Mapp is a multi-disciplinary designer whose interests and focus is Regeneration; (re)creating things and experiences inspired and birthed from legacy and memory with an avid play on layering meaning. He recognizes the value and potential in abandoned things, and utilises them as platforms to foster new opportunities.
He was trained in architecture at University of Technology, Jamaica and Carleton University, Ottawa Canada, where those creative and technical experiences shaped his approach towards design as a problem solving tool. His design practice thrives on experimentation while exploring how traditions can be (re)mixed and (re)imagined for contemporary life. From placemaking to successful live-work-play environments, to the development of functional objects, Israel’s design ethics are a synthesis of thoughtfulness, beauty, function and performance.
Essential to Israel’s work is building community and developing systems and relationships that can provide support for communities. To this end he is the co-founder of two creative start-ups in Barbados; the artists’-, designers’-, and makers-’ collective 'TANDEM Movement' and the social and creative enterprise 'Union Collaborative Inc.'.
Union Collaborative started as a city-led initiative in 2016. Through it he has organised developmental and public engagement programming and is currently working on the creative cluster UNION at Beckwith. Through Union at Beckwith, Israel is adaptively re-using an abandoned centuries old building in Bridgetown to be a part of the creative ecosystem of Barbados, providing space, tools and programming for creative practitioners to work, train, collaborate and create.