The exhibition We Have Met Before: Graham Fagen, Joscelyn Gardner, Leasho Johnson and Ingrid Pollard, a collaboration between the National Gallery of Jamaica and the British Council, is accompanied by an e-catalogue publication. This publication was edited by Melanie Archer and was designed by Kriston Chen. It contains commissioned essays by Tiffany Boyle and Shani Roper, along with forewords by Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick, Annalee Davis and Juliet Dean, and Veerle Poupeye and O’Neil Lawrence. The We Have Met Before e-catalogue can be found here. The exhibition opens tonight at 6:30 pm and continues until November 4, 2017.
We Have Met Before opens at the National Gallery of Jamaica on September 22 and continues until November 4. The works selected for this exhibition represent a conversation on the histories of Slavery, the Transatlantic trade, and its present-day implications. The exhibition is staged in partnership with the British Council. Ingrid Pollard is one of the four artists featured.
Ingrid Pollard was born in 1953 in Georgetown, Guyana and is based in London. Pollard completed a BA in Film and Video at the London College of Printing in 1988. She went on to complete an MA in Photographic Studies at Derby University in 1995 and obtained a PhD from Westminster University in 2010. She lectures in Photography at Kingston University. Ingrid Pollard played an important role in early 1980s photography in Britain, documenting black people’s creativity and presence in photographic series that question social constructs such as Britishness and racial difference. Her work is included in major collections internationally and nationally in Tate Britain and the Victoria & Albert Museums in the UK.
About the Work
Ingrid Pollard works mainly in analogue photographic media, with emphasis on the materiality of the photographic media and processes. The Boy Who Watches Ships Go By (2002) is the oldest body of work in We Have Met Before and consists of images of land, sea, boats and historical documents that subtly evoke the histories, visible and invisible, of Sunderland Point in northern England, which was once a thriving seaport in the Triangular Trade. The resulting narrative revolves around the story of Sambo, a young boy and servant, presumably enslaved, who travelled with the captain of the Globe from Kingston, Jamaica, who fell ill and died when he arrived in England. His death, it was believed, was from a disease he allegedly contracted in England to which he had no immunity; and acts as a metaphor for the fate of those who lost their lives and freedom as a result of their contact with European slave traders. Sambo was, according to local lore, buried at Sunderland Point in 1739.
Ingrid Pollard website: www.ingridpollard.com
Leasho Johnson was born in St James, Jamaica, in 1984. He attended the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, where he obtained a BFA in Visual Communication in 2009. He is a founding member of the Dirty Crayons collective, which held local group exhibitions in 2012 and 2013. Johnson’s other exhibitions include Young Talent V (2010, National Gallery of Jamaica); Jamaican Pulse: Art and Politics from Jamaica and the Diaspora (2016, Bristol, United Kingdom); and the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Biennials since 2010. He has also participated in a number of artist residencies. In 2016, he participated in an artists’ residency at Bluecoat, a contemporary arts centre in Liverpool, United Kingdom, and he was awarded a residency at Residency Unlimited in New York City by the Davidoff Art Initiative. Johnson works in various media to explore the tensions and contestations in Jamaican culture and society, particularly in dancehall and its associated tropes. He resides in Kingston, Jamaica.
About the Work
Leasho Johnson is the youngest artist in We Have Met Before and presents a visually and conceptually explosive mix of history and contemporary popular culture, with strong references to Dancehall and graffiti. Like the other three artists, he often uses historical source material – visual material in his case – but forces this into a dialogue with a repertoire of cartoon-like female and gender-ambivalent figures in various provocative poses, other recurrent characters such as fighting and copulating dogs, and sexual metaphors such as bananas, sugar cane, palm trees and fish. In some of his recent work, drowned bodies with provocatively placed palm tree extensions become sexualized tropical islands, reminiscent of the violent histories of the Caribbean archipelago. Johnson examines the politics of sexual objectification and the contradictions of gender and sexuality in contemporary Jamaican culture and not only points to the roots of these issues in the histories of colonization, slavery, exploitation and social inequality, but also acknowledges their revolutionary potential in the present as an agent of social change.
Leasho Johnson website: www.leasho.com
The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for September 24, 2017 will feature the Quilt Performing Arts Company. Visitors will also be able to view the We Have Met Before and the Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection exhibitions.
The Quilt Performing Arts Company was born out of a need for a fresh, new, innovative way of creating performance art. Using Caribbean rhythms, merging poetry, music and dance, the Quilt performers have developed their own unique performance style and an evolving theatre technique. Artistic director Rayon Mclean and his team continue break boundaries and redefine performance spaces, and this time the women in the company will be quilting from their heART through music, poetry and dance. The show is called #POW- Patches of Women. This is Quilt’s third time at the National Gallery. Continue reading
Born in Barbados, Joscelyn Gardner works both in the Caribbean and in Canada, where she is Professor of Art at Fanshawe College. She has held solo exhibitions in the USA, Canada, Spain, and throughout the Caribbean and has participated in numerous international biennials, exhibiting both prints and multimedia installations. Her work has also appeared in curated group exhibitions at museums in the USA, France, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Spain, India, China, Barbados, and the Netherlands, and is in public collections in the USA, Europe, and the Caribbean. In 2013 she received the Grand Prize at the 7th International Contemporary Printmaking Biennial in Trois Rivières, Quebec. She holds an MFA from Western University, and a BFA (in printmaking) and a BA (in film) from Queen’s University.
About the Work
Joscelyn Gardner is represented by two full series of lithographs – Plantation Poker (2004)and Creole Portraits II (2007)—and a selection of lithographs from the Creole Portraits III (2009- 2011) series – which are exhibited as installations that also include other elements. In these prints, which conform to the conventions of natural history illustrations, intricate African braided hairstyles morph into the instruments of torture that were used during slavery. A more specific reference to sexual abuse is added in the imagery in Plantation Poker, where the triangular shape of the hair references female pubic hair. The lovely flowers in Creole Portraits III are plants that were used by enslaved women to secretly end unwanted pregnancies. While deceptively delicate and exquisitely beautiful, the prints powerfully invoke the dehumanizing cruelty of plantation slavery. Gardner’s body of work is inspired by the infamous diaries of Thomas Thistlewood, a plantation overseer in Jamaica in the mid-18th century, who recorded with scientific precision his many forced sexual exploits and the cruel punishments he inflicted on the enslaved.
Joscelyn Gardner website: www.joscelyngardner.com
We Have Met Before opens at the National Gallery of Jamaica on September 22 and is staged in partnership with the British Council. The exhibition features Graham Fagen (Scotland), Joscelyn Gardner (Barbados/Canada), Ingrid Pollard (Guyana/UK), and Leasho Johnson (Jamaica) and revisits the challenging but important subject of trans-Atlantic slavery and its afterlives in the contemporary world, interpreted by four artists with distinctive perspectives.
As part of the accompanying programmes for We Have Met Before, the National Gallery of the Jamaica and the British Council will present a panel discussion on the issues raised by the exhibition on Saturday, September 23, starting at 1:30 pm. The panel will consist of three of the artists in the exhibition, Graham Fagen, Joscelyn Gardner and Ingrid Pollard, while Deborah Anzinger will speak about Leasho Johnson’s work. The panel will be moderated by Shani Roper, acting Director/Curator of Liberty Hall, the Legacy of Marcus Garvey.
The panel discussion, which will take place at the National Gallery of Jamaica, is free and open to the public and those in attendance will also have the opportunity to view the exhibition, which continues until November 4, 2017.