4 thoughts on “National Biennial 2012: The Final Word!

  1. Very well executed pieces, technically. Some of the subject-matter are, in my opinion, leave a lot to be desired, since, living here in the USA, I didn’t get a “feel” of Jamaica from them. Biennials do invite “outsiders” in, however, some works, although done by artists of Jamaican ancestry, could be from the minds and hands of non-Jamaicans anywhere on the planet. Why, for example, when I see some Haitian works, I immediately know who did them? Similarly, with some indigenous Australians (Aborigines) or Chicano (Mexican-American) works. Some of the Jamaican works just seem to mimic Euro-centric culture. The question then, should be, “What is Jamaican culture?” To my thinking, it is a creole culture steeped in Amerindian (Taino), African (mainly Akan), Asian (Chinese and Indian), European (Celtic and Anglo-Saxon), as well as Middle Eastern (Sephardi and Lebanese). Maybe Jamaican artists need to, as I would tell my students, do more research on (our) culture, digest it and come up with an amalgamation that might reveal a more accurate visual representation of the island’s aesthetics. Check out my blog article on Jamaica to get a sense of who we may be @ http://yamaye1.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-yamaye-taino-arawak-of-jamaica.html

    • There is a very real danger here of mandating and creating stereotypes; see historical examples of this such as the ANC’s attempt to restrict artists in South Africa to revolutionary themes, in the extreme, Nazi “degenerate arts” or the quality of much of the Afro centric black visual creations of the 1970’s USA. A slippery slope, the effort to define “acceptable art” or”correct art”.

  2. I am actually pleased, as a Jamaican who lives in the island, to find that those beyond our shores look at the art displayed in the Biennial and don’t find it typically Jamaican. I love that it doesn’t fall along the neat parameters that our motto (apparently) dictates and which some use to box in our creativity. Publications like ARC Magazine and exhibitions like the most recent Biennial, for me, are all about shattering this idea of what it is to be Caribbean; and for the first in a long time I feel as if our reality is depicted, good and bad.

    • I think that you are overreacting to my comment about what is called “Jamaican art”. Nazism is a different topic. Traditionally, when artifacts are dug up, archeologists, ethnohistorians, et al, can identify them, often because of style, subject matter , etc. Without having met the creator of the object, the researcher can often identify the object’s cultural markers. My PERSONAL preference leans towards certain “aesthetic markers” that are identified with the artist’s cultural experiences. For example, I identify Rastafarianism with a distinctly Jamaican experience. The National Gallery has a painting of Jesus the Christ with dreadlocks, an excellent example of a piece rooted in the Jamaican experience. There, the artist used a European vehicle (mimicking canvas-painting), while portraying a Middle-eastern religious figure with, the truly Jamaican part, a Rasta hairdo. Although the hairdo is not specific to Rastafarians (see Akan priests or Indian holy men) the figure’s dreadlocks hairdo, to the artist, is identifiably Jamaican.

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