The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present the panel discussion We Have Met Before, Revisited, which will take place at the National Gallery on Friday, October 13, 2017, starting at 1:45 pm. The discussion is presented as part of the Edna Manley College’s Rex Nettleford Arts Conference 2017, for which the National Gallery serves as a partner institution. The panel discussion will be chaired by Nicole Smythe-Johnson, Independent Curator. The panellists are: Moji Anderson, Lecturer, Sociology, Psychology and Social Work, Faculty of Social Sciences, UWI-Mona; Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick, British Council Country Director, Jamaica; Leasho Johnson, Jamaican artist in We Have Met Before; and Herbie Miller, Director, Jamaica Music Museum, Institute of Jamaica.
The panel discussion is part of the programming for We Have Met Before, which on view at the National Gallery until November 4, 2017 and which is presented in collaboration with the British Council. The exhibition explores a group of contemporary and artistic interpretations of legacies of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and chattel slavery in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. Each of the four featured artists – Graham Fagen (Scotland), Joscelyn Gardner (Barbados), Leasho Johnson (Jamaica) and Ingrid Pollard (Guyana/England) – delves into archival material, popular culture and personal perspective to develop and substantiate visual iconographies that present actual and imagined narratives about the African enslaved and their descendants. Combined, their work invites new perspectives and dialogues on what is well-established subject in Caribbean art. We Have Met Before is presented in collaboration with the British Council.
The present panel discussion is the second such event to accompany We Have Met Before. The first panel discussion was held on September 23, the day after the exhibition opening, and focused on the perspectives of the artists in the exhibition. The second edition, We Have Met Before, Revisited, explores the broader implications of what is addressed in the exhibition, in terms of its cultural, social and political implications, including the gender dimensions and the critical responses to date. The panel will also consider other cultural expressions of Slavery and its afterlives, especially in the literary and performing arts, and the ways in which creative forms can contribute to the engagement or re-engagement of those histories with contemporary audiences; especially for those who may believe themselves to be chronologically and psychologically removed from those events.
In keeping with the conference theme, the discussion will consider the relationship between these issues and the “millennial” – a term that has come into vogue in the last decade or so and coined to identify the generation of individuals who came of age at the beginning of the 21st century or who were born since. The social and cultural experience of the “millennials” coincides precisely with a number of human achievements, for example the advances of the digital age, which have significantly transformed the ways in ideas and narratives can be expressed, accessed and perpetuated. This experience is also framed in a widening array of urgent global crises—social, political and environmental—that call for new forms of engagement and activism, even though most of these crises are rooted in histories such as those addressed in We Have Met Before. Bearing this in mind, this discussion considers that cultural representations of slavery for 21st century Jamaica and the wider Caribbean must resonate with the social and cultural experiences of such groups and the urgencies of the present moment, in tandem with the changing roles and responsibilities of the artist.
The panel discussion We Have Met Before, Revisited is free and open to the public. Visitors will also have the opportunity to view the We Have Met Before exhibition, as well as the other exhibitions that are currently on view at the National Gallery, including the Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection. The panel discussion will also be live-streamed on the National Gallery’s main Facebook page.