New Dates for Kingston Biennial – Pressure

The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) wishes to announce a new opening date for the Kingston Biennial: Pressure curated by David Scott, Nicole Smythe-Johnson, Wayne Modest and O’Neil Lawrence. The Kingston Biennial will now open on June 26th 2022 and close on December 31st 2022.  

As it has with art institutions around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the NGJ’s exhibition programming. It has made it impossible to meet previously set timelines – both for the NGJ as well as several of the participating artists in the Kingston Biennial. While the preparations for the exhibition are ongoing, the recently confirmed presence of the Delta and Mu variants of the COVID-19 virus in Jamaica also factored into the decision to change the opening date from the original December 12, 2021. 

Jonathan Greenland, Senior Director of the NGJ, in a statement. “With the evolving uncertainties of the pandemic, the decision was made to change dates for the exhibition in order to prioritize the safety of our staff, the artistic community and our public. The Kingston Biennial: Pressure is however our newest flagship exhibition; we remain committed to this exhibition for its potential to be a catalyst for the further exposure and development of Jamaican art both here and in the Jamaican diaspora.” 

David Scott, the exhibition’s lead curator on the exhibition’s theme “[W]hat is instructive about the Jamaican experience and the idiom of pressure is that it has always had a generative and dissenting quality about it. Pressure is a source of critical and creative counter-powers and creative oppositional activity. It is an inspiring human resource, and historically it has been deeply fertile ground for some of the most brilliant works of Jamaican cultural achievement.” 

Leading up to the opening of the Kingston Biennial: Pressure there will be several interactive online seminars including: The Cultural History of Art Institutions in Jamaica and the Sonic and Visual Lives of Pressure among others.

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“Jamaica Jamaica!” Exhibition to Re-Open on October 5, 2021

The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) will welcome visitors through its doors once again on October 5, 2021, as it begins a phased re-opening of its facilities to the public. The NGJ had been temporarily closed to the public since March 14, 2020, in keeping with the Jamaican Government’s strategies to curtail the ongoing spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (Covid-19) in Jamaica and its risks to public health.

The facilities that will be re-opened to visitors are the Gift and Coffee Shops; as well as the highly acclaimed Jamaica Jamaica! exhibition, which originally opened at the NGJ on February 2, 2020. The NGJ permanent exhibitions as well as the Reading Room will remain closed until further notice.

All guided tours and face-to-face educational services will be suspended until further notice; however, research requests will continue to be facilitated via phone call and email at info@natgalja.org.jm. Additionally, information on the NGJ collections and Jamaican Art in general, can be found on the NGJ blog, as well as at all social media handles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

In welcoming visitors back to the NGJ, in a manner that is safe and healthy for its patrons and staff, the following protocols are being implemented:

  1. The NGJ will be opened to visitors Tuesdays to Fridays at the following times daily: 10:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00pm to 3:00pm.
  2. The NGJ will be closed to the public on Saturdays and Sundays.
  3. In order to facilitate daily mandatory sanitisation procedures, visitors will not be granted entry to the NGJ, between 12:00pm and 1:00pm (no appointments needed).
  4. A maximum capacity of 30 visitors will be admitted for each of the above-stated opening times.
  5. All visitors will be required to wear facial masks or shields upon entry and during their visit.
  6. All visitors will be subject to temperature checks and sanitisation upon entry.
  7. All visitors will be required to maintain a social distance of at least six (6) feet from others.
  8. No medium or large bags will be allowed inside the building.
  9. The Coffee Shop will be opened for take-out only – no dining will be allowed.

The National Gallery of Jamaica would like to use this opportunity to thank the public for its understanding and patience, in these challenging times, as well as to re-iterate its commitment to the research, preservation and promotion of Jamaican artistic heritage, for the benefit of all.

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Global Conversations Series: The Legacy of Okwui Enwezor

The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) would like to announce that the final episode of its Global Conversations Series entitled The Legacy of Okwui Enwezor has been rescheduled for Friday, May 14, 2021 at 12 noon. Moderated by Annie Paul, the panellists will include Mark Nash, Isaac Julien and Ute Meta Bauer. The discussion will be held live on the NGJ’s YouTube channel and will include a 30 minute segment for audience participation. 

The Legacy of Okwui Enwezor

A titan who bestrode the global artworld, Okwui Enwezor famously altered its contours with his magisterial Documenta11. This panel brings together four participants of Documenta11: Enwezor’s Documenta co-curators Mark Nash and Ute Meta Bauer as well as one of the featured artists, the celebrated film-maker Isaac Julien, to discuss the Grief and Grievance exhibition at the New Museum in New York and the current Documenta Platform 6 project memorializing Enwezor. The conversation will include Documenta11’s Créolité and Creolization platform, in which all four panelists participated. Attendees are invited to look at Platform 6 and Isaac Julien’s film, Paradise Omeros, in preparation for this panel. 

Annie Paul

Annie Paul is a writer and critic based at the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she is head of the Publications Section at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies. She is on the board of the National Gallery of Jamaica and has published extensively on art. In 2020 she published a biography of Stuart Hall in UWI Press’s Caribbean Biography Series. Editor-in-chief of the new online magazine of writing PREE and a founding editor of  Small Axe. She has been published in international journals, magazines and a range of art books and catalogues. Paul is the author of the blog Active Voice.

Mark Nash

Mark Nash is a distinguished independent curator, film historian and filmmaker with a specialization in contemporary fine art moving image practices, avant-garde and world cinema. He holds a PhD from Middlesex University and an MA from Cambridge University. He is currently a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he founded the Isaac Julien Lab with his partner and long-time collaborator, Isaac Julien.

As a curator, Mark Nash has frequently collaborated with Isaac Julien on numerous film and art projects. He also collaborated regularly with the late Okwui Enwezor, including on documenta11. More recently, he curated moving image exhibitions Viva L’Italia at the Museo Civico Archeologico (2017) and The Coming Community (2018) both for Artefiera Bologna.

Isaac Julien

Filmmaker and installation artist, Isaac Julien CBE RA, was born in 1960 in London, where he currently lives and works. His multi-screen film installations and photographs incorporate different artistic disciplines to create a poetic and unique visual language. His 1989 documentary-drama exploring author Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance titled Looking for Langston garnered him a cult following while his 1991 debut feature Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival. In the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale (2015), curated by Okwui Enwezor, he presented Kapital and directed Das Kapital Oratorio. He has also presented in documenta11, Kassel (2002).

Ute Meta Bauer

Ute Meta Bauer is a curator of contemporary art, film, video and sound that connect artistic work with other disciplines. Since 2013, Bauer has served as Founding Director of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art (NTU CCA) Singapore and as a professor in the NTU School of Art, Design and Media. At the NTU CCA Singapore, Bauer has curated and co-curated The Posthuman City: Climates. Habitats. Environments (2019–2020), Siah Armajani: Spaces for the Public. Spaces for Democracy (2019) and Trees of Life: Knowledge in Material (2018) among many others. She was also co-curator of documenta11, Kassel (2002).

She is a member of various advisory boards, including the International Board of the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai; Bergen Assembly, Bergen, Norway and the documenta commission, Kassel.

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Global Conversations Series: The Biennial and its Others

The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) presents the third episode in the Global Conversations Series entitled The Biennial and its Others on Friday, April 30 2021 at 12 noon. Moderated by Amanda Coulson, the panellists will include Bonaventure Ndikung, Zak Ové and David Scott. The discussion will be held live on the NGJ’s YouTube channel and will include a 30 minute segment for audience participation. 

The Biennial and its Others

The venerable biennial model has become and remained de rigeur for transnational exhibitions of art. But are other models emerging in the 21st century? This conversation will be a frank discussion of the pros and cons of large-scale art spectacles in an era when audiences are far-flung and socially distanced.

Amanda Coulson

Amanda Coulson is the outgoing Executive Director of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB). She has worked as a scholar, critic, curator and cultural producer, having collaborated with artists and institutions, as well as private and corporate colleagues both regionally and internationally. Prior to her post at NAGB, Coulson was a co-founder of the VOLTA contemporary art fairs where she focused on increasing international awareness of the contemporary Caribbean art scene, expanding the scope of the institution and building strong inter-island and international networks. She served on the Davidoff Art Initiative (now the Caribbean Art Initiative) Board from 2012-2018 and currently serves on the Board of the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC).

Bonaventure Ndikung

Dr. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung is an independent curator, author and biotechnologist. He is founder and artistic director of SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin and the artistic director of sonsbeek 20–24, a quadrennial contemporary art exhibition in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Ndikung was the curator-at-large for Adam Szymczyk’s Documenta 14 in Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany (2017); a guest curator of the Dak’Art biennale in Dakar, Senegal (2018); and the artistic director of the 12th Bamako Encounters photography biennial in Mali (2019). Alongside the Miracle Workers Collective, he curated the Finland Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2019). He is currently a professor in the Spatial Strategies MA program at the Weissensee Academy of Art, Berlin and is a recipient of the first OCAD University International Curators Residency fellowship in Toronto, 2020. 

Zak Ové

Zak Ové is a London based multi-disciplinary artist working in film, sculpture and photography to reclaim old world mythologies in new world source materials and technologies. His fascination with the interplay between antiquity and the future is inspired by masking rituals and traditions of Trinidadian carnival that is itself rooted in a struggle for emancipation. His use of non-traditional materials: copper, wood, Victoriana and other found materials, situates the work in the metropoles of Europe and the Americas where they merge and mutate into endless possibilities and unexpected identities.

David Scott

David Scott is the Ruth and William Lubic Professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. He is the author of Formations of Ritual: Colonial and Anthropological Discourses on the Sinhala Yaktovil (1994), Refashioning Futures: Criticism after Postcoloniality (1999), Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment (2004), Omens of Adversity: Tragedy, Time, Memory, Justice (2014), and Stuart Hall’s Voice: Intimations of an Ethics of Receptive Generosity (2017). Scott is also the founder and editor of the journal Small Axe, and director of the Small Axe Project. He is also the curatorial director of the exhibition, the Visual Life of Social Affliction, and the forthcoming Kingston Biennial, 2021.

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Last Sundays to Screen Short Film “Proscenium”

This Sunday April 25, 2021 the National Gallery of Jamaica’s virtual Last Sundays will feature a one-time screening of the Factory75 short film Proscenium followed by a discussion with the filmmaker Allison Harrison. The screening will take place on our YouTube channel at 1:30 pm and the discussion will be made available for future viewing.

The award winning 2015 short film Proscenium is a Jamaican thriller that follows a young violinist, Melissa, whose boyfriend Greg surprises her for her birthday with a trip to the long abandoned and iconic Ward Theatre in Downtown, Kingston. It was produced by Factory75 and has received the Audience Award for ‘Best Short Film’ at the first Jamaica Film Festival in 2015, was part of the selection for the 2015 Aruba Film Festival and was featured by the University of Missouri and RagTag Cinema in 2016.

Allison Harrison is a filmmaker and the Chief Creative at the video, motion picture and entertainment company Factory75. She attended Miami International University of Art and Design where she attained a BFA in Film and Digital Production Summa Cum Laude. Harrison was regularly featured on the President’s List and the Dean’s List and was awarded the Outstanding Acheivement Award in Film and Digital Production for 2010-2011.

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