This perspective on the curatorial aspects of the 2012 National Biennial was contributed by Nicole Smythe-Johnson, Senior Curator at the NGJ. It is the first of several perspectives from staff members and viewers we intend to publish.
Shoshanna Weinberger – Collection of Strangefruit, gouache & mixed media on paper, 18 panels, ea. 51 x 42 cm
Contrary to popular opinion, the business of placing works of art within a gallery space is by no means a simple, straightforward or even purely aesthetic matter. In fact, it is a very deliberate affair, often preceded by months of debate and planning. Though the role of curator has gone through almost as many changes as the definition of art, this is one thing that remains constant; the necessity for the creation of a conversation (between the works themselves and/or between the art and the public) and provision of a context that will best facilitate a work’s articulation of its truth.
Stefan Clarke, Life; Faith/Love/Death, digital print, right panel of triptych, ea. 76 x 243.6
A Biennial, particularly of the kind we currently have mounted at the National Gallery, presents an additional challenge to curators. The whole point of the exhibition is to have a range, to give a snapshot of the artistic landscape in Jamaica and across her diaspora. We want as many artists, forms, ideas as possible to be represented while maintaining a high standard of quality. However, it also means that the creation of conversations and the establishing of relationships between works is even more difficult. How to tease out connections and resonances from such a variety? Far less, a variety that was not selected by the curatorial team but by a largely external jury (in the case of the juried entries) and by the artists’ themselves (in the case of the 50 invited artists). A curator can feel a bit uneasy, waiting to see what comes in, hoping that the works will be amenable to being moulded into an exhibition that is varied but also cohesive.
This video by young Jamaican film maker Storm Saulter, director of the feature film Better Must Come, vividly documents the excitement of the Young Talent V opening function on May 16, 2010.
Posted with permission from Storm Saulter (and with thanks!)
Sections of Young Talent V – the exhibitions by Ebony G. Patterson, Oliver Myrie, Dion “Sand” Palmer, Christopher Harris, and Caroline “Sardine” Bops — have been held over until August 28.
Note: Slides 1 to 9 were digitized from negatives, slides 10 to 12 are digital photographs.
This is the first in a series of slide shows on the Young Talent V exhibition, featuring the work of Ebony G. Patterson.
Leasho Johnson - The Product (2010), detail of installation
Have you seen Young Talent V? Or have you followed it on our blog and on Facebook (where we will soon publish more information and photos)? We would love to get your feedback and to start a vigorous online discussion on the exhibition and its implications. So, we want to hear from you. Here are some of the questions on which we would love to get your responses.
- What is your personal response to the exhibition?
- Which artists and works in the exhibition do you find most outstanding and why?
- The exhibition includes work in traditional painting media but also in new media such as digital photography and video animation, which are increasingly important in contemporary art production. How do you view this shift in media?
- Much of the work in the exhibition challenges conventional notions of “good taste” and “high art.” How do you feel about the NGJ’s move in this direction?
- What is the significance of this exhibition to the development of art in Jamaica?
- What are the implications of this exhibition for the NGJ?
- What does this exhibition tell us about contemporary Jamaican society and culture?
- Should we organize an international tour for this exhibition?
- What are your views on the exhibition design and installation?
And of course you can also comment on any other topic relevant to the exhibition. Please use the “leave a comment” function.
Ebony G. Patterson - Cultural Soliloqui (A Cultural Object Revisited), 2010