UPDATE: PLEASE NOTE THAT THE SUBMISSION AND OPENING DATES FOR THE JAMAICA BIENNIAL HAVE CHANGED. PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK FOR THE CURRENT INFORMATION.
The National Gallery of Jamaica will be celebrating its fortieth anniversary later this year, on November 14, 2014 to be precise. This anniversary provides us with an opportunity to celebrate, to reflect and to plot our course going forward. Here is a preview of what we have in store for you, written by Chief Curator Charles Campbell.
2014 is shaping up to be a big year for the National Gallery of Jamaica. It’s been forty years since we first opened our doors as a gallery to collect, research, document and preserve Jamaican and other Caribbean Art. As I begin to settle into my role here as the new Chief Curator this year’s milestone has been an opportunity to look at both the Gallery’s tremendous accomplishments and how we may wish to change.
To celebrate our fortieth anniversary we’ll be mounting an exhibition that looks at the gallery’s history and the role it’s played in the Jamaican art world. In Retrospect: 40 years of the National Gallery of Jamaica will examine how the Gallery has told our story and influenced how we understand art in Jamaica. We’ll be looking at everything from the crafting of the national narrative to controversies surrounding the development of the Intuitive canon to the role the gallery has played in cultivating young artists and notions of the avant garde. The exhibition opens on July 27 and will offer an interesting dialogue between some of Jamaica’s most senior artists and young contemporaries.
Before we get there though the gallery will be breaking new ground with our two exhibitions opening in May, Japan: Kingdom of Characters and Anything With Nothing: Art from the Streets of Urban Jamaica. Kingdom of Characters, which opens on May 11, comes to us via the Japanese Embassy and showcases Japanese character culture and the development of Anime and Manga characters through visual images, video and life-size models. The show is already generating significant interest from young artists and animators, and in a departure from our usual events we’ll be hosting a cosplaying party as part the programming for the exhibition.
Anything with Nothing, which opens on May 25, is the gallery’s first venture into the vibrant world of street art in Jamaica. Examining the phenomenon of memorial murals, Rastafarian influenced artworks and the presence of Jamaica’s celebrity culture on the walls of Jamaica’s urban environment the exhibition shines a light on an aspect of Jamaica’s visual culture that has never before entered the Gallery. As well as photographic documentation of murals from Kingston and environs we’ve also commissioned new work by the artists. The exhibition hopes to serve as a point of discussion about our visual environment and the recent controversies that have surrounded the eradication by the police of some of Kingston’s murals
2014 not only marks our 40th anniversary, but it is also a Biennial year and we have an ambitious program planned for November and December. We’ll be expanding beyond the Gallery walls to produce a multi-venue event, and for the first time we’re inviting regional and international artists to do special projects for the exhibition. The Jamaica Biennial will open for our anniversary on November 14, which also favourably positions it on the international art calendar. The opening will be followed by a number of events throughout the island in December. Look out for the release of the Biennial’s new submission guidelines and deadlines in the upcoming weeks.
It’s going to be a busy year. Opportunity is change!